from Sarasota Magazine:
Few of us realized it, but that million-dollar listing was a sign that the Sarasota we knew was about to disappear forever.
What was it like, that old Sarasota? Fortunately, we had a great writer who explained it to us. And if the death of John D. MacDonald in 1986 marked the end of the old Sarasota, it also laid out the parameters of the city’s soul, and that has never changed.
MacDonald was a best-selling mystery novelist, the guy who invented the Travis McGee series. He was an astute observer of human nature, the good and the bad, and working from what he saw every day in Sarasota, he created a universal world that rings true with readers, generation after generation.
It’s a beautiful world, but a fragile one, and it has to be protected. Protection was the key theme of MacDonald’s work—brave men protect weaker men, men protect women, and all good people protect the environment. Protection is needed because evil exists, and its most prominent marker is greed and power-seeking.
Aside from his skill as a writer and his pre-eminence as one of the founders of the ecology movement, MacDonald was the ultimate Sarasotan. He was fiercely intelligent, at the top of his profession, a smart businessman, active in the community, a loyal and generous friend. He lived in a big house on Big Pass; it was designed to function without air-conditioning yet also withstand 100-mile-an-hour winds. His wife, Dorothy, was a painter, and they were active in the creation of New College. But as congenial as MacDonald was, there was always that reserve that great artists have, that self-imposed distance from the rest of humanity.