Obituaries – 02-19-2013

Therese Lillian Johnsen

Therese Lillian Johnsen, of Holmes Beach, died Feb. 7. She was born Feb. 3, 1925, in Staten Island, N.Y.

During World War II, she became engaged to Walter Sverre Johnsen, who returned from combat at Anzio in a body cast. They were married July 7, 1945.

Mrs. Johnsen supported her husband as he co-founded Armel Electronics Inc., a manufacturer of electronic connectors, standoff terminals and relay sockets for the burgeoning aerospace and military markets.

They built a home in Saddle River, N.J., where they raised four children. She worked in high-end residential real estate sales for many years, and was one of the leading brokers in the state.

On retiring, the couple moved to Ridgewood, N.J., and then to Holmes Beach. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She enjoyed animals, the beach and long walks. Her greatest pleasure was spending time with her family.

Burial will be with her husband at Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota. Memorial donations may be made to  Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center Inc., P.O. Box 1449, Anna Maria FL 34216, or on their website at

Mrs. Johnsen is survived by her children, Walter Craig and wife Wendy of New York, N.Y., Karen and husband Michael Smith of Holmes Beach, Edward of Califon, N.J., and Lynn and husband Marcus of Bradenton; grandchildren Walter D., Michael S. Smith, Kristopher Smith, Michelle Sporn, Kristina Huefner, Edward II, Daniel, and Lauren Roundtree; great-grandchildren Landon Sporn, Logan Sporn and Andrew Huefner.


Deborah Kaye Yarbrough Murphree

Deborah Kaye Yarbrough Murphree, 61, of Bradenton, died Feb. 5. She was born Aug. 12, 1952, in Dallas.

She retired after 30 of service at UPS.

She had a contagious smile, laughed often and loved to cook and entertain. She was a member of the Anna Maria Island Privateers, the nonprofit local organization that supports kids and community, with the pirate name of “Stumbles.” She will now enter the ship’s Davey Jones Honor Roll with privileged member status.

Her greatest passion was her family.

A celebration of life will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb 22, at CrossPointe Fellowship Church, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Mrs. Murphree is survived by her husband of 39 years, Roger L.; son Eric; daughter-in-law Elizabeth; six grandchildren; sisters JoAnn, Constance, Jennifer and Rebecca; brothers Doyce III and Jon; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.


Paul Roat, Islander editor-photographerroat-w-camera

Paul M. Roat, 56, a longtime area newsman of Sarasota and formerly of Bradenton Beach, died Saturday, Feb. 15.

He was a lifelong resident of the area who served as a valued source of historical perspective during his tenure as frequent writer and editor for two newspapers on Anna Maria Island from the 1970s to the present day.

He earned a scholarship to the University of Florida from then-publisher of The Islander, Don Moore.

He was the son of a Bradenton Beach postmaster, his mother was familiar to islanders at the Bridge Street hardware store, and later worked at a law firm, and he grew up in Bradenton Beach in an idyllic fashion, while acquiring an early appreciation for news and photo journalism at Manatee High School.

Moore gave Mr. Roat his first job out of college.

And Mr. Roat soon figured in coverage of some of the area’s notable moments.

His work spanned coverage of news for the former Islander newspaper in the 1970s-80s, including photos taken from the top of the remaining span of the Skyway Bridge within moments of the disaster at the bridge in 1980 that sent 35 people to their deaths.

He also took pride in his photos in August 1993 from a small craft shortly after a three-ship collision that resulted in fire aboard one ship and the release of 30,000 gallons of crude oil from another ship into the Tampa shipping channel.

In 1984-87, Mr. Roat served as a legislative aide to state Rep. Jim Lombard. In 1989, he became the first staff member for the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, contributing to the fundraising effort that enabled the program to flourish.

He contributed to numerous SBEP publications and was co-editor of the 1992 SBEP “Framework for Action,” and co-writer and editor of the 1995 SBEP management plan, “Sarasota Bay, the Voyage to Paradise Reclaimed.”

Mr. Roat’s career included work for Clubhouse magazine, later Sarasota magazine, and the Siesta Key Pelican Press. He was a writer for at the time of his death.

He also authored two volumes of “The Insider’s Guide to Sarasota & Bradenton” guide book and various other guide publications over the years.

He was editor of The Islander newspaper for 17 years, starting at its launch date in November 1992, and wrote a column titled “Sandscript,” always seeking to improve environmental conditions for Anna Maria Island and beyond.

Most recently he rallied in a column to derail a developers’ plans for Long Bar Pointe.

He oversaw several Islander projects, stories and features recognized and honored by the Florida Press Association.

He acquired an extensive collection of work by Florida-based authors and was a founding member of Mystery Florida, a nonprofit group that sponsors an annual gathering of mystery writers and aficionados in Sarasota.

“He was a great friend who eagerly shared his love for news, John D. MacDonald’s series of books featuring Travis McGee, and his upbringing in Bradenton Beach. He will be dearly missed and remembered with each night’s flash of green at sunsets on Anna Maria Island,” said Islander publisher Bonner Joy.

“He was raised on the waters of Sarasota Bay and he liked to often write from his perspective as a ‘little Roat.’ One such story recalled harvesting sand dollars and selling them to tourist shops for 3 cents each.”

Mr. Roat was molded into a savior for the environment and a great reader and thinker.

The Islander is planning a memorial for the Tingley Library in Bradenton Beach, where Mr. Roat served many years as a board member, a journalism scholarship and a mystery book sale to benefit the library.

Memorial donations may be made at The Islander, 5604B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach FL 34217.

No services are planned.

Mr. Roat is survived by his aunt Margaret Roat of Ludington, Mich., several cousins in Michigan and Colorado, and his “almost children,” Kendra Presswood of Holmes Beach, and Damon Presswood of Bradenton.

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