The first and last things that visitors to one special Moorings Park apartment hear are greetings activated by your footsteps
on the doormat. In between, nonstop smiles are generated by the colorful and eclectic gallery of art and keepsakes.
“My walls are full of memories,” says your host, Earle Borman, 89, who delights in sharing as much as he does in collecting. “Life has always been fun for me.” Betsi Jones, administrator of the Moorings Park Foundation, calls Borman a ray of light who brings good cheer as well as serious commitment to causes such as the David Lawrence Center mental health organization and fundraising for scholarships and seniors in need.
“He is particularly fun and everyone here at Moorings Park appreciates him,” she say. “We have a colorful bunch of people and he fits right in.” That good fit is epitomized in an inscription on the campus’ landmark fountain in the Alan and Marilyn Korest Plaza – an oasis for residents and guests to pause and reflect. “It is a happy talent to know how to play” is the quote, from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Speakers at the dedication of the inscription – the 12th and last one to circle the iconic waterworks – remarked how much it suits Borman, its sponsor. Then again, sponsorship comes naturally for Borman, who owned and operated Naples’ Town Hall Distinguished Speaker Series with his son, Rick, for a decade from 2004, before similar forums elsewhere with larger venues and budgets drove up prices for marquee names such as George W. and Jeb Bush, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice.
His knack for engagement showed as early as age 10, when he knocked on Connecticut neighborhood doors for Wendell Willkie.
He earned footnotes in TV advertising history for booking the First commercials for “Shindig,” a pop music show in the 1960s,
“Batman” and “ the Monkees.” The apt client was Clearasil.
When he came aboard, the firm, Sterling, made $25 million a year with products including Lysol. It bloomed into the billions and eventually became Reckitt Benckiser, a global conglomerate featuring Airborne, Air Wick, Mucinex and Calgon – even Durex condoms.
His work took him around the world, and he indulged his passion for live music, theater and sports – from growing up around New York. Some of his artifacts he got himself, like the autographed photo of Dick Clark. Others he bought, like the
guitars signed by The Who, The Eagles, Alice Cooper and Freddie Mercury, alongside a drum head signed by Mick Fleetwood and a replica of the bass drum on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“My two loves as a kid were baseball and jazz,” he recounts. “They were two leaders in breaking the color barrier. Benny Goodman in the late 1930s at Carnegie Hall had Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton. And then Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Hank Thompson and Monte Irvin were with my New York Giants. I was so proud of these two cultures leading the way.”
His homage to rock extends to live shows, lately catching Elton John, The Who, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart and Ringo Starr.
His theater résumé includes co-sponsoring a Gulfshore Playhouse production every year with his special companion Polly Keller, a founder of the David Lawrence Center and champion of community good works. He became a widower in 2017 after 62½ years of marriage.
The sports memorabilia run the gamut – from two seats from Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where his transplanted yet still
beloved Giants played, to caps and baseball and hockey jerseys to photos of great moments in sports, many of which he attended.
He brainstorms how to display more. He does, after all, relish a challenge, such as Navy duty helping pilots identify enemy ships, and making floor wax and other consumer goods environmentally friendly.
“I feel, looking back, I was blessed,” he muses, “and I still thank the Lord for my continued blessings.” To Scott Burgess, President/CEO of the David Lawrence Center, Borman is a gem: “Earle’s long and successful business experience, coupled with his heart of gold, make him an incredible asset for our board, DLC and our community at large!”
Russell Budd, the center’s board chairman, concurs: “Earle acts as an ambassador for DLC and encourages many to support, as he does in so many ways, our efforts to provide life-saving and life-changing services.
Lytle is the retired editorial page editor and TV host at the Naples Daily News. Jeff can be reached by email at Jlytle@comcast.net