'She was involved in all of it': Sarasota philanthropist Elizabeth Lindsay dies at 96

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Elizabeth “Liz” Lindsay, a long-time pillar in Sarasota's art community passed away at 96-year-old on Tuesday, Jan 18.
Elizabeth “Liz” Lindsay, a long-time pillar in Sarasota's art community passed away at 96-year-old on Tuesday, Jan 18.

Elizabeth “Liz” Lindsay, a long-time pillar in Sarasota's art community, died Tuesday from natural causes at 96 years old.

Originally from Derby, Connecticut, Lindsay moved to Sarasota in 1947, when her husband and father-in-law owned the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Shortly after moving, Lindsay's footprint in the community began to grow. She’s well known for her philanthropic endeavors and impact on arts and education.

“She moved here and immediately became involved in many of the cultural and charitable institutions in the community,” said her son Robert Lindsay. “If you go look around today at those institutions that make Sarasota different from other cities, arts, cultural, and to some extent medical, she was involved in all of it.”

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Lindsay's involvement in the community extends across decades. She served as Chair of the Florida Board of Regents (now the Florida Board of Governors) after being appointed by former Gov. Lawton Chiles. She would oversee 10 of Florida’s public universities.

Lindsay is the co-founder of the Exchange, formally known as the Women’s Exchange, a nonprofit consignment shop supporting the arts of Sarasota. Lindsay actively served on the Exchange's board for 60 years.

Karen Koblenz, executive director and CEO of the Exchange, says Lindsay was a remarkable woman who still stands as a pillar in the community.

“She was looking to form a self-sustaining nonprofit organization that would be run like a business to support other nonprofit arts organizations and students pursuing a higher education,” Koblenz said.

Among her many accomplishments, Lindsay was the former campus board chair for the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

“Her biggest passion was education,” said Robert Lindsay. “Her parents were college professors, and that's something that's always been important to her all her life.”

She began her studies at Purdue, where her father taught, and then transferred to Thomas Edison University in Trenton, N.J., and earned a bachelor’s degree in construction. She went back to school as a non-traditional student and joined the first class of graduates ever produced by the University of South Florida’s Executive MBA program. That's when Lindsay's relationship with USF began.

Lindsay also chaired the fundraising drive to purchase the Dunfermline opera house that is now the home of the Asolo Repertory Theatre, served on the boards of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Selby Botanical Gardens, Ringling College, New College Foundation, Florida West Coast Symphony Association, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Ringling Museum of Art, and Florida and National Trusts for Historic Preservation.

“I worked with her on the Bank of America Client Foundation where she brought her extensive community knowledge and passion for excellence to every discussion,” said Debra Jacobs, president, and CEO of the Patterson Foundation. “Her facial expressions often were as meaningful as her words; with one look you knew her perspective.”

Wherever she went, Lindsay gave it her all and her passion shines through even today. Friends say she was a remarkable woman who cared with all of her heart.

Lindsay leaves behind four children, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are being made by her family.

“She was extremely wise,” Koblenz said. “She was forward-thinking and to be honest with you, she was years before her time.”

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota philanthropist Elizabeth “Liz” Lindsay dies at 96

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