Obituaries – 09-19-2012

Russell Lee Cripe

Russell Lee Cripe, 63, of Holmes Beach, died Sept. 8. He was born Aug. 31, 1949, in Mansfield, Ohio.

He started a family in Pennsylvania, and eventually moved with his family to Holmes Beach. He was a long-time restaurateur, known locally for his cooking skills, especially his potato leek soup and chicken salad.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness, 3915 26th St. W., Bradenton. Memorials may be made to the Kingdom Hall. Condolences may be made online at

Mr. Cripe is survived by his children, Marc, Matthew, Meagen Jones, Seth and Micolaus; sisters Lynda Stricker and Jennifer Little; and five grandchildren.


Former Holmes Beach Mayor Van Wagoner dies in Sarasota

Robert E. “Bob” Van Wagoner, 89, of Sarasota, former mayor of Holmes Beach, died Wednesday, Sept. 12, after a brief illness. He was born Oct. 24, 1922, in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger commented on Van Wagoner’s time in office, saying, “Bob served as mayor from March 1996 to March 1998. It was a time of much controversy, as the cell tower was coming. The population was divided, was it a good thing or would ruin our community? Time has passed and the tower has been accepted, not only by our residents, but also by nesting ospreys.”

Mr. Van Wagoner grew up in Niagara Falls, spending summers on Lake Ontario. He loved living near water, was an avid swimmer, and relished the sunsets over Sarasota Bay. He was an avid runner, and completed the New York marathon on his 60th birthday.

He was a 1940 honor graduate of DeVeaux Military School in Niagara Falls, and a political science honor graduate in 1944 from Princeton University. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps 1942-45.

He was a newspaper reporter in New York City for almost 30 years, representing press and public relations for numerous private and public businesses. He had a column on the joys and challenges of aging in the Sarasota Herald- Tribune, and frequently had opinion letters published in other newspapers, including the New York Times.

He managed political campaigns, ran for several offices successfully, negotiated labor contracts as a newspaper union leader, and headed a number of civic campaigns.

He moved in the early 1990s to Longboat Key and became active in community affairs. He served as mayor of Holmes Beach 1996-98 and worked diligently to protect the integrity and charm of the island.

He was instrumental in the fight to block the proposed Anna Maria high-bridge, as well as other environmental issues, including hurricane preparedness.

Bob lived 2003-06 in Morehead City, N.C., and then Yorktown, VA., to be close to his children and then returned to Sarasota.

His daughter said he will be remembered for his love of jazz, the ocean, and writing, but most importantly for the impact he had on so many lives.

The family plans to hold a private memorial ceremony on Oct. 27 to honor Mr. Van Wagoner’s 90th birthday. Memorial donations may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Mr. Van Wagoner is survived by his children, John and wife Wendy of Bluffton, S.C., Lauren and husband Frank Rotella of Bluffton, S.C., and David and wife Theresa Lally of Yorktown, Va.; grandchildren Kenny, Paul, Amy, David, Carolyn, and Jenny; and great-grandchildren Aiden, Emily, Kaitlin, and Ellie..


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One thought on “Obituaries – 09-19-2012

  1. Betsy Mitchell

    As a Buffalo native and Sarasota transplant, I enjoyed hearing Bob’s stories of working for the Buffalo Evening News and of his summer at Camp Pathfinder where my brothers and son attended in Canada. Bob’s wonderful letters and column were always lively and thoughtful and always had a dash of his wonderful sense of humor.


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