Longtime attorneys shaped the Sarasota of today
Sarasota has lost a trio of legal lions this summer, attorneys whose real estate work over the past four decades decidedly shaped the region’s landscape and set in motion growth that continues to this day.
Robert J. “Bob” Carr, who practiced law at the Kirk Pinkerton firm for 57 years and eventually became its managing partner, passed away in early July. The Rhode Island native, who attended law school at the University of Florida, was 85.
Most recently, Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen partner and former management committee president James L. “Jim” Ritchey passed away on Aug. 21 at age 83.
The Indiana native, who moved to Fort Myers as a child and later attended the University of Florida’s College of Law, practiced at Williams Parker for 55 years. Of that, he spent three decades on the firm’s management committee.
“He was both brilliant and practical,” says Bill Seider, a Williams Parker partner. “He was known as a deal maker.”
During his career, Ritchey worked on Sarasota developments ranging from the Colonial Oaks community to the original Main Plaza retail and office complex downtown.
“All three were very reasoned, kind and thoughtful, but there was also a big-picture aspect to them that’s largely missing in a lot of people today,” says Kathryn Angell Carr, a real estate attorney at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP — the successor firm to Abel Band — who met her future husband when she clerked at Kirk Pinkerton.
All three attorneys were heavily involved in civic groups. Abel was a member of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation board; Carr chaired the board of directors at the world famous John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the city’s now-defunct University Club; and Ritchey worked as a past chairman and board member at the Attorneys Title Insurance Fund, to name one group.
Each had passions away from the law, as well. Ritchey developed a love of sailing at an early age, Abel was a pilot who co-owned an airplane and enjoyed scuba diving, and Carr was an accomplished chef and avid golfer.
But it was their legal work that set the trio apart and for which they will be most remembered.
“They left some large footprints in this community,” Seider says. “If you look at a map and see all the communities, all the developments that they were a part of, it kinda blows one away.”