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True Rotonda West pioneers mark 70 years of marriage

Introducing the first and second generations of the Brower family. Front, from left: Darlene Lindsey, Rotonda West;  Mark Brower, Bradenton; and Melodie Palmer, Sarasota. Back row: Sharon Winzen, Dallas, Texas; Jean and Joe, and Dianna Hedges, Rotonda West. Jean holds a red rose in memory of their late son, Stephen, who passed from a brain tumor.

Intro­duc­ing the first and sec­ond gen­er­a­tions of the Brower fam­ily. Front, from left: Dar­lene Lind­sey, Rotonda West; Mark Brower, Braden­ton; and Melodie Palmer, Sara­sota. Back row: Sharon Winzen, Dal­las, Texas; Jean and Joe, and Dianna Hedges, Rotonda West. Jean holds a red rose in mem­ory of their late son, Stephen, who passed from a brain tumor.

By Don Mahon

ROTONDA WEST, Fla. – Joe and Jean Brower of Rotonda West were the guests of honor to cel­e­brate their 70th wed­ding anniver­sary and Joe’s 90th birth­day May 16.

More than 60 guests joined in the cel­e­bra­tion at The Hills Coun­try Club in Rotonda West.

Joe and Jean met at George Wash­ing­ton High School in Indi­anapo­lis. Joe was a senior and Jean a sopho­more and they became high school sweet­hearts. They were mar­ried on May 4, 1945, 70 years ago.

Joe and Jean in the 1940s.

Joe and Jean in the 1940s.

The war years sep­a­rated them. Joe served in the Air Force in New Guinea in the Pacific The­ater. He was in an Air Force Res­cue Squad. When U.S. air­craft were shot down, a B-17 with Joe aboard would go to res­cue the crew. They would lower a 30-foot boat by para­chute and were pro­vided a com­pass so they could find their way to the near­est land. Joe esti­mates that his squadron was part of the res­cue of 700 airmen.

When Joe was serv­ing in the Air Force, Jean started her own beauty salon in Indi­anapo­lis and main­tained it for many years.

In indus­try, Joe was a much-sought after screw machine engi­neer who spent 22 years with Union Car­bide before being pur­sued by Delaware Screw Machine Com­pany to cap off his career.

Today: Joe is 90 and Jean is 88.

Today: Joe is 90 and Jean is 88.

How the Brow­ers dis­cov­ered Rotonda West is a story in itself. They were trav­el­ing in cen­tral Ohio some 40 years ago and stopped for the night at a motel. In the foyer was a 3-dimentional ren­der­ing of Rotonda West with pho­tos and mar­ket­ing infor­ma­tion. They were plan­ning to move to Florida in sev­eral years, so the dis­play inter­ested them. The first 100 buy­ers would be the recip­i­ents of a free swim­ming pool. Despite the sight-unseen risk, they bought a lot in the Oak­land Hills sub­di­vi­sion and built a home and have lived in Rotonda West ever since.

We love it here,” Jean said.

Once they moved to Rotonda West, Joe was instru­men­tal in the build­ing of the Rotonda West Com­mu­nity Church. The church opened in 1980 while Joe was serv­ing as chair­man of the Board.

Joe also served on the RWA Elec­tion Com­mit­tee for sev­eral years.

Joe and Jean were vol­un­teers help­ing out in the mid-1970s at “Super­stars” events that jump-started the devel­op­ment of the com­mu­nity. They also were spec­ta­tors at a good many events.

The ath­letes loved it here,’ Jean said, “because the res­i­dents were so welcoming.”

Joe and Jean raised six chil­dren and have 16 grand­chil­dren and 11 great grand­chil­dren. They trag­i­cally lost a son to an inop­er­a­ble brain tumor when he was 40.

Even at the ripe young age of 90, Joe is out on the Links Golf Club, often com­pet­ing in a Best Ball match with his foursome.

At their cel­e­bra­tion party attended by their fam­ily and many friends, Joe and Jean received an all-expenses-paid trip back to their native Indi­ana, some­thing they had long wished for.

It was an unfor­get­table time for them and the trip was the icing on the cake.

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