Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Winter Neighbor Ending Migration; Fernandina: Trip from Vermont Taxing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Winter Neighbor Ending Migration; Fernandina: Trip from Vermont Taxing

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Bob Warner's climb up the corporate ladder was long and hard, but he's learned a life's worth of lessons, he said. And for the last nine years, he's shared those lessons with hundreds of kids in Fernandina Beach.

This year will be his last.

Warner, 84, is a retired paper salesman from Vermont who has spent his winters in Fernandina Beach for the last 15 years. He and his wife, Mary, have closed their antique shop, packed up their minivan and driven about 19 hours toward the promise of a warmer winter each year.

In the last three years, the two have hosted antique appraisal days at the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center. Warner also has counseled four Fernandina Beach High School classes each year about career choices.

"In a small community like this, there are a lot of opportunities to become involved," Warner said. "When I was down here, I was dying for something to do."

But now it's time to rest closer to home, Warner said. This will be the Warners' last year in Fernandina Beach.

"I'm getting too old to drive. It's too far. We started out doing this as something fun, but as you get older . . . it's a big job," he said.

Warner's story is that of a self-made man. He moved 11 times before he graduated from high school at 20 years old.

"I decided I had to do something if I wanted to make it," he said.

After high school, Warner worked in New York City selling Muzak. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and was stationed in the South Pacific for four years. When he returned home, he started selling Gregg-ruled spiral notebooks. He worked in the paper industry for 31 years, advancing from a salesman to the general manager of a 1,000-employee company. He then spent eight years as a marketing consultant for several paper companies before he retired.

In 1968, Mary Warner opened an antique shop adjacent to their home. …

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