Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Englewood Elder Left Big Impression

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Englewood Elder Left Big Impression

Article excerpt

I didn't know Don Platt that well, but I'm sure going to miss him.

He died last week at 91, most of those years spent in Englewood - - the town he loved.

A few years ago, the Hermitage on Manasota Key commissioned artists to paint murals that captured the spirit of Englewood.

One of them chose Platt. So, on a building at Elm and Dearborn streets, among the depictions of beaches, fish and historic icons, a larger-than-life face with twinkling eyes looks out at the town. The inscription reads: "Englewood's esteemed elder."

It is noteworthy that the artist would select a guy who ran a junkyard and built a small marina from scratch.

Few would argue with the choice, however. For years, Platt has been the town's ambassador from the past, a tie to the hardscrabble settlers who eked out a living on the Gulf Coast before the days of tourism and retirement.

Young Don and his peers seized opportunity where it presented itself. While boys in the rest of the country earned money from newspaper routes, Don delivered shellfish door to door.

"Everyone was waiting on me to bring 'em scallops. I sold all I could," Platt once said.

That was part of Platt's charm; he had a terrific memory. And he loved to share stories, not about great events, but about the day- to-day life that shaped Englewood's history and people.

Ruth Tate, 86, met Platt soon after her family moved to town in 1934. She couldn't help but know him. "There were only about 100 people in Englewood at the time," she says.

After World War II, Platt and Tate's husband, Roy, started selling Army surplus materials. One time they came back with a load of well-used desks. They rented a hangar at the former Venice air base and filled it almost to the ceiling.

"In those days you could sell almost anything because for five years, things had been so scarce," Tate says. "The desks sold like hotcakes. I couldn't believe it."

Platt eventually opened a junk/surplus center off River Road near what is now the Post Office.

Midge Platt Orren says her father used to concoct merry-go- rounds from old wheels and cables, or string nets across the backyard for climbing. Those were good days growing up; Platt raised two daughters, a son and the younger sister of his former wife after she left. …

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