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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

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Anna Maria Citizens of the Year
Islander Photos: Rick Catlin

Elizabeth and Gene Moss were honored Nov. 20 as the Anna Maria Citizens of the Year.

Mosses are top Anna Maria citizens

Anna Maria's top citizens for 2003 are Elizabeth and Gene Moss, who have been residents of Anna Maria since the 1950s.

According to the selection committee, the couple have been "actively involved in all aspects of Island life: religion, education and government in Anna Maria City" since the 1950s.

Elizabeth first came from Bartow to the Island in the 1920s on vacations with her family.

In the 1940s, her family bought a house on Willow Avenue, and she moved here permanently in 1954 and became a teacher at the Anna Maria School.

She and Gene were married in 1956 and raised twin sons and a daughter.

Eddie is now a Baptist minister while Jim is an insurance agent. Daughter Beth is married to Alan Waters and the couple are Baptist missionaries in India.

Gene and Elizabeth have nine grandchildren.

Elizabeth is an outspoken environmentalist and once stood in front of a city bulldozer to stop it from destroying some rare buttonwood trees.

She was the assistant city clerk in Anna Maria for a number of years and planted peanuts on city hall grounds during Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign.

Both Gene and Elizabeth are charter members of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. Elizabeth started "Footprints in the Sand," which is a series of scrapbooks depicting Island life dating back to 1893 when the first homesteader, George Emerson Bean, arrived.

The couple are also active at the Roser Memorial Community Church as Sunday School teachers and as singers in the choir. Gene is a church deacon, a liturgist and served as head of transportation for many years at the church.

Gene is also a member of the Island Rotary Club.

"The Mosses are a close-knit family," who often share their home and large Gulfront yard with friends and family, said the award.

The couple often have 40 to 50 people under the pines at their home enjoying a picnic and have had entire scout troops camp out in the yard on occasion.

One of the couple's hobbies is dancing and they are expert ballroom and square dancers, which keeps them in shape.

"In our estimation, the Mosses represent the ideal Anna Maria Island family," concluded the award.

In addition to plaques, the Mosses received gifts donated by Mama Lo's, Chapae, Two Sides of Nature, the White Egret, AMI West, Bistro IslandŐs End, the Waterfront Restaurant, Nantucket Bay, BeachStyle Boutique and Sandy Rich Realty.