By JIM LINETTE
Services for city pioneer and historian Paul Sanborn are set for 10 a.m., Friday, at Faith Presbyterian Church with burial to follow at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens in Fort Myers.
Sanborn passed away at the age of 93 on July 14 a few days after suffering a severe stroke. Family and friends are invited to the visitation from 5-8 p.m., Thursday, at Fuller Metz Cremation & Funeral Services, 3740 Del Prado Blvd. A family reception will follow the graveside service with Military Honors on Friday at the Faith Presbyterian Church, at 4544 Coronado Parkway.
“It was a privilege to know Mr. Sanborn,” said Cape Coral Fire Chief Donald Cochran. “I want to personally thank him for everything he has done for the community and express my gratitude for his staunch support of public safety.”
The city’s official historian, Sanborn came to Cape Coral in 1962 to work with the Rosen brothers and Gulf American Land Corporation, the developer of the city. He also managed the Cape Coral Yacht & Country Club and served as director of industrial development and community relations.
“Paul was such a visionary,” said fellow longtime resident and historian Elmer Tabor. “When he saw a need for the city he went after it with a vengeance. Going forward will be tough.”
Some years back, Tabor was asked to join Sanborn on the city history presentation tour he established at least three decades ago because Sanborn told him, “One day I won’t be around” and would he go do it with him.
“He said I eventually will take it over anyway,” said Tabor. “I’m going to continue on and dedicate it to his memory. He always was my mentor and I will keep doing it because it was Paul’s wishes.”
After leaving Gulf American, Sanborn entered the banking business at Cape Coral Bank and went on to work at several others before he retired in 1993. Always active in the community, Sanborn was a founding member of the Rotary Club of Cape Coral, a board member for the Historical Society/Museum, and Chamber of Commerce among others.
“I got to spend time with Paul and enjoyed meeting him and listening to what he had to say,” said Historical Museum executive director Shalla Ashworth. “It’s like losing a grandparent. One time I gave a talk on Cape Coral history to the Rotary Club and didn’t know he was a member. There he was in front of me, which made me nervous, but he gave me ideas to add to my talk. He always had time to talk to you and give you advice.”
Sanborn was deeply engaged in all things Cape Coral, including city government. He worked with elected officials for the benefit of the community.
“There is a big hole in Cape Coral now that he’s gone,” said Realtor and former City Councilmember Gloria Tate. “It’s up to the next generation to hold onto the history of this city and continue to grow it as he would want. That’s the best way we can honor his memory.”
Tate said Sanborn reminded her of her dad, always ready to give you a big hug.
“(Sanborn) gave a lot to the city,” said current City Councilmember Marilyn Stout. “There is always sadness for the family and everybody whether it was expected or not because of his health. He was very respected in the city as he should be.”
Current City Councilmember Jim Burch met Sanborn through the Rotary Club of Cape Coral and worked side by side for the city when Burch was mayor (2009).
“We go back a long time,” Burch said. “We went up in a helicopter all over creation doing business for the city when I was mayor. Paul was one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. We probably will talk about him some on council coming up. Many people don’t know who Paul is, but we are in a transitional era in the city and should look back to Paul to see where we came from.”
Sanborn was one of the first residents of Cape Coral, outside of the mayor, City Council and city staff, that City Manager John Szerlag met when he first arrived in the Cape.
“He was gracious in providing me a tour of the city along with his unique perspective in having played an integral part in Cape Coral’s growth,” said Szerlag. “I have always enjoyed talking to Paul and will certainly miss our conversations.”
Former Mayor Eric Feichthaler led the move to name a new city neighborhood park after Sanborn.
“Regardless if you were in city government or not, Paul was involved around the city,” said Feichthaler. “He was the most upstanding person. I called him a true gentleman. He was very respected and anyone who ever had an opportunity to speak with him found that out.”
As a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps, Sanborn assisted in the formation of the Invest in America Veterans Foundation and the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library.
“Paul was part of our original veterans that formed the foundation nine years ago,” said founder and president Ralph Santillo. “He was very active with us for a good while. He was a good visitor and participated in things that we do. He was a nice guy with a lot of great history and was heavily invested in the city as a founder.”
Survivors include three daughters, Carol Weniger, Donna Sanborn and Mary (David) Rieser; five grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Faith Presbyterian Church, Rotary International Foundation or the Cape Coral Historical Museum. Expressions of sympathy may be made online at www.fullermetz.com.