Two Sanibel Women Honored For Leaving Their Mark on the Island

by SC Reporter Reese Holiday

By definition, a Grande Dame is a woman with great prestige and ability. For Naomi Bloom, Mariel Goss and Robin Krivanek, they displayed prestige and ability throughout their lives and were given the status of Grande Dame on March 11.

However, because of the women before that were awarded the same title, Goss, a Sanibel resident, didn’t think she was worthy of such an honor, despite her accomplishments.

“I was very honored because I had seen the women that had been previous to me,” Goss said. “They were all wonderful. I did not think I was worthy of some of that honor.”

Krivanek, another Sanibel resident, had similar sentiments as she was originally going to turn down the award. But the Pace Center for Girls, Lee County didn’t agree as they honored all three women for their significant impact on the community during its 13th annual Grande Dames Tea event last Thursday.

A part of that community is the island of Sanibel, a place where Goss and Krivanek left their mark as both residents and public servants.

Goss’ history on the island runs deep as her husband Porter Goss became the first mayor of Sanibel when the island was incorporated as a city in 1974.

Mariel Goss

There, she and her husband went to work with Mariel forming the Sanibel Bike Path Committee which was dedicated to the creation of a paved bike path on the island, a path that is still used today.

“I think the incorporation of the island was the biggest moment,” Goss said about her time on Sanibel. “My proudest time is watching all of the people now on the bike path.”

For Krivanek, her family has been coming to Sanibel since the early 1950s. When she retired, she moved to Sanibel in 1993 and, like Goss, started to make an impact on the island’s community.

Krivanek said she enjoys the outdoors and showed it by joining the board of directors for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation as well as the City of Sanibel’s Vegetation Committee. She said she’s the type of person to get dirt under her fingernails and enjoys planting native plants on her Sanibel property.

“I do a lot of gardening,” Krivanek said. “I keep my property as native as possible. Right now, at this time of year, there’s a lot of picking up of dead palm fronds and getting things in shape, so I do spend more time outside.”

In addition to spending time outside, Krivanek, and the other Grande Dames, spent time during their Thursday ceremony answering questions from girls involved with the Pace Center.

Since 2007, the not-for-profit center has been providing young girls, like those involved in the ceremony, with opportunities to better themselves through education, counseling, training and advocacy. On Thursday, the questions asked mainly pertained to them theme of the event, which was “The Wisdom of Time – Honoring the Female Spirit.”

Robin Krivanek

Krivanek said the answers she gave to those questions were reflected by meaningful experiences throughout her life. Her answers pertained to the event’s theme as well.

“I tried to share with them some of the things that had been important to me in growing up,” Krivanek said about her responses to the Pace girls. “I tried to respond to the motivation behind the questions they were asking.”

Although both Krivanek and Goss felt they didn’t deserve the honor of Grande Dame, they were recognized as such. They were able to take that honor and pass down their life’s knowledge to young woman that will succeed them.

They were also able to reflect on the accomplishments they have achieved throughout their life. Most of those accomplishments occurred on the island of Sanibel, a place that Krivanek said she holds dear. A place that can’t be compared to anywhere else.

“Most unique place to be, not just the vegetation and everything, but the kind of people that attracts,” Krivanek said. “It’s been a wonderful community to be a part of.”

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