Former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, a longtime public servant in the region, died Thursday, Feb. 8. She was 79.
Patterson had spent more than 20 years serving the public, according to a statement put out by Sarasota County government.
Patterson was first elected as Sarasota County commissioner in 1998 and served until November 2014, serving three terms as chair. Before her tenure with Sarasota County government, Patterson served eight years on the Sarasota City Commission, including a term as mayor.
Prior to politics, Patterson was a former teacher, small business owner and real estate agent.
Patterson grew up in New York City and obtained a bachelor's degree in psychology from Duke University. Later, she earned a master's degree in education from the University of Florida, with a focus on educational psychology, the release from the county states.
Patterson had lived in Sarasota County since 1970 with her husband, John.
Sarasota County officials say Patterson was an "integral part" of the county's history, representing the county on regional boards that work on the water supply for a four-county area. Patterson was also involved with MPO, the transportation planning organization advisory to the Florida Department of Transportation regarding Manatee and Sarasota counties. And Patterson oversaw the maintenance of the Intracoastal Waterway in a four-county area.
Patterson served on numerous boards including Teen Court of Sarasota, Jewish Family and Children's Services and the Plymouth Harbor Board of Trustees. The Bay Island Park was renamed in honor of Patterson in 2015.
The park, known as Nora Patterson Bay Island Park, had significant park improvements completed in 2022, the county officials say.
"Nora had a servant's heart and a reputation for dedicated service to the residents and visitors of Sarasota County," says Sarasota County Commissioner Mike Moran, with District 1. "This is a significant loss for our community, but Nora's legacy will live on through her decades of service and contributions to our community."
Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis, in the statement, says Patterson stepped up and served Sarasota County citizens "with the mindset of making sure what was decided was in the best interest of our community."
"Her dedication and service will continue to shine throughout Sarasota County because of the relationships that were formed throughout her decades of public service," says Lewis.
Jim Stinson is the Business Observer's Tampa Bay business reporter and editor, having previously written about business and policy in Washington, D.C.; Rochester, New York; Gary, Indiana; and Daytona Beach. He attended Boston University for business and Indiana University for journalism.