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Council offers praise for Bob Janes’ work

By Staff | Mar 17, 2010

To begin their regular meeting on Tuesday, the City Council observed a moment of silence in honor of the late Bob Janes, a Lee County Commissioner and former Sanibel mayor. Janes passed away at his island residence last Wednesday morning at age 78.

“Bob helped bring Sanibel back together with Lee County at a time when we were having some issues with them,” stated councilman Jim Jennings. “He will be missed.”

As a county commissioner, Janes represented the residents of District 1, which includes Sanibel, Captiva, Upper Captiva, Cape Coral, Matlacha, Pine Island, St. James City, Bokeelia and Boca Grande; however, he served the entire community and his impact will be felt county-wide for years to come.

“I will always remember him welcoming me into his office,” added Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane. “I just really enjoyed the brief time I had to work with him. He was an excellent public servant.”

Janes was first elected into public service in the 1960s as a Minneapolis city alderman and then as a Hennepin County (Minn.) commissioner, where he served five years as board chairman.

From Minnesota, he moved to Washington, D.C. and served as the deputy director of the White House Intergovernmental Affairs, where he worked as liaison between the White House and state governments, counties and cities. Among other issues, he tackled key health care policies.

In 1975, he and his family moved to Sanibel.

Janes was a successful businessman in the local community, including a banker and owner of a real estate school, hotel and restaurant. He stayed true to his parents’ example and became a dedicated community volunteer and public servant for Lee County.

In addition, he served as a member of the Sanibel Planning Commission, where he was instrumental in passing stringent building codes on the island to protect our environment.

Janes was elected to the Sanibel City Council and then was elected mayor, where he served from 1997 to 1999. In 2000, he was elected to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners and re-elected in both 2004 and 2008.

“He certainly was a wonderful public servant and served his community right until the very end,” said Mayor Mick Denham. “It is a sad time. He will sorely be missed in Lee County.

Denham also suggested to City Manager Judie Zimomra that, in the near future, the city remember Janes by planting a memorial tree – along with a commemorative marker – in his honor on the grounds of City Hall. The council unanimously supported the idea.

Zimomra also informed the council and public in attendance that all Sanibel residents are invited to attend a memorial service being held in Bob Janes’ honor on Monday, March 26 at the Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the service will start at 4 p.m.

Denham will be among the guests scheduled to speak at the event.

In addition, a memorial fund to collect donations for the Bob Janes Preserve has been established through the Conservation 20/20 Program. Donations may be sent in care of Cathy Olson, Conservation 20/20 Program, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33916. Checks should be made out to “Lee County Board of County Commissioners,” and “Bob Janes Memorial Fund” should be written in the memo.

Janes is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Lynda Janes, and their three daughters, Susie (Janes) and Colin Flinn, Sandy and Mary.