MIAAOR installs new leaders: Island realtors gather and hand out awards at Hideaway Beach Club

Lance Shearer

Marco’s real estate professionals gathered for the changing of the guard on Tuesday, empaneling a new slate of officers and directors during a luncheon at the Hideaway Beach Club.

The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors (MIAAOR) installed Gary Elliott as president, Steve Josselyn as president-elect, and Ken Bennett as secretary/treasurer.

Tiffany Homuth rises to accept the Affiliate of the Year award. The Marco Island Area Assn. of Realtors installed new officers and gave out awards during a luncheon Tuesday at Hideaway Beach Club.

Outgoing president Michael O’Rourke passed the gavel to Elliott, local attorney Bill Morris swore in the new board, and Marv Needles, who was the association’s second-ever president in 1979 (and again in 1989), acted as master of ceremonies for the event.

Ileana Bogaert, Stefan Bolsen, Ken Gandy, and Bob Holm were installed as directors for a one-year term. Rosemary Langkawel and Stacy Witthoff were named two-year directors, and Litha Berger and Jack Winnik became three-year directors.

On a day when the front page headline in the Naples Daily News proclaimed “$8.5 million sale tops Marco’s red-hot market,” the assembled Realtors were feeling good about the island, and happy to put the turmoil of Hurricane Irma behind them. Some of the recognition would have been awarded earlier, but Irma forced cancellation of the originally scheduled September meeting.

Dawn Norgren of Island Title, who provided the table’s centerpieces, utilized Norfolk Island pines growing in containers and decorated as Christmas trees, with the suggestion that they be planted and help replace all the trees lost during the storm.

Before getting down to the business of handing out awards, the group feasted on tenderloin and Florida grouper, and turned dessert into performance art, with Hideaway chef William Drake producing applause and gouts of fire as he flambéed the Bananas Foster.

Susan Ackerson was named Realtor of the Year, with Elliott, who won the award last year, doing the presentation honors. Ackerson has served twice as association president. O’Rourke presented the Affiliate of the Year award to Tiffany Homuth of Florida Community Bank.

Bill Filbin won the Unsung Hero award, which was a little ironic as he was “sung” to a great degree during the ceremony, also being named winner of the inaugural Richard Shanahan Service Award, presented by Debra Shanahan in honor of her late husband, always known as Dick Shanahan. Filbin also intoned the invocation to begin the ceremony, and won additional awards and recognition, causing some on hand to express concern he would be worn out from multiple trips to the podium from his seat in the far corner of the dining room.

In his remarks, incoming president Elliott lauded the community contributions that local Realtors provide.

“Many of our members are active in all parts of the community. I see Bill Filbin once again collected 78 trays of food for a St. Matthews House Thanksgiving. Wanda Burson works tirelessly for Christmas Island Style and other fundraisers as an active Rotarian. Linda and Alan Sandlin were instrumental in the founding of the Historical Society. We have dozens of Realtors who contribute their time, talent and resources to the island to keep it an outstanding place to work, live and play.”

New president Gary Elliott presents the Realtor of the Year award to Susan Ackerson. The Marco Island Area Assn. of Realtors installed new officers and gave out awards during a luncheon Tuesday at Hideaway Beach Club.

Thanking everyone for their past efforts, Elliott nevertheless urged his audience to “take it up a notch” in the coming year, in what has become something between a catchphrase and a personal mantra.

Shirley English, MIAAOR CEO, and the association staff of Linda Johns Carroll, Alice Jobe, Kandy Sweeney, and Pattie Ziesig, were also singled out for special appreciation by O’Rourke.