He came to Anna Maria Island with talent. How he uses it makes him exceptional. He is a career architect, musician, artist and he readily gives his talents for the good of others. He stepped up to serve his city in a time of extreme crisis. He gives his talents readily and reaps little reward beyond self-satisfaction.
He sees the importance of where we are, whether it’s the landscape or the place in time, and has a keen intuition for where we go and how we get there. He sees our potential.
He’s the future. He relishes our past.
He has 20-20 insight and a crystal ball view of the future.
He’s a neighbor. Volunteer. Giver.
He’s everyman. He’s also a renaissance man.
He’s Gene Aubry.
He’s empowered with seemingly limitless knowledge, embracing the sort of great thinking that we so seldom see, so much so that less accomplished people often fail to recognize his significance.
It’s not his job, it’s his life.
If you haven’t seen or heard him play guitar, you may not recognize his range of talent. If you don’t know of his many architectural achievements, you might doubt this quiet man had reached such heights. If you don’t know of his art — the simple, fine lines and subtle colors that capture moments in time like no photograph could — you may not appreciate his refined taste.
He often volunteers his talents. He plays guitar at various venues, most often Beach Bistro — on his own schedule. He blends seamlessly into dinner conversations, adding to the ambiance with his enjoyment, and he never accepts tips or a fee.
He draws instinctively, perfecting perception on paper, putting what he sees — reality — combined with his passion into scale.
He came forward to put his name on the ballot when the city was polarized by ideas from a man named Harry, and he narrowly won election to the Anna Maria City Commission.
He served by offering solutions. He was pragmatic, practical and philosophical in his service to the city. And he put his ideas to work by putting them on paper, demonstrating how improvements don’t have to mean great changes for the less visionary of his contemporaries.
Unfortunately, putting ideas to work can be frustrating when the people are scared of what the future may bring. May bring? It’s only certain that people want improvements but fear change.
Counted among his lasting architectural visions are the Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota, the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, private residences, schools and museums. His hotel credits include the posh Windsor Court in New Orleans and the Ritz-Carlton in Aspen.
Many projects fill the skyline in Houston where he once had an office, and architectural journals refer to him as “the man who rebuilt Houston.”
He may no longer serve Anna Maria on the commission, but he isn’t giving up on this place he loves. Surrender is not in his character.
Aubry holds the course.
He still has vision, hope and a gift to give…
For these reasons, he is our choice for Islander of the Year. — Publisher Bonner Joy