A longtime business icon on Fort Myers Beach has called it quits in the Realty trade.
Ann Alsop, manager of the vacation rentals department at Century 21 TriPower Realty, has retired, effective roughly one month ago. She worked for the company for 22 years.
"The opportunity came. It's time," she said.
Michelle Robinson (l) and Amy Bessert stand behind the seated Ann Alsop in the rental department at Century 21 TriPower Realty. Ann, who recently retired, still visits her former colleagues who call her a local celebrity due to her long-standing relations in Real Estate on Fort Myers Beach.
Listed as "a walking encyclopedia of the area rental industry" on Century 21 TriPower Realty's website, Alsop will be missed by many, especially Broker Judy Haataja, her good friend and colleague who hired her shortly after the business opened its doors.
"We opened the office in September 1990 and have been together for 22 years," said Haataja. "We grew the business one rental at a time, and we've really built a wonderful rental department. Ann did a great job. We had some great times, put on a lot of parties, and worked hard. She is still representing us at the Beach Chamber, so she's still involved. She's an icon."
Alsop transitioned through Century 21 TriPower Realty's three office moves from Key Estero Shops to Topps Supermarket Mall to their current building that used to house Pirate Pete's at 2001 Estero Blvd.
Alsop still drops by the office where former co-workers Michelle Robinson and Amy Bessert run the office these days.
"She's like a local celebrity. Everybody knows her. She's been here for so many years. She has done a lot for our owners and the community," said Bessert. "She definitely puts others first before herself."
Before joining Haataja at Century 21 TriPower, Alsop worked for C.I. Harby, one of the first real estate agencies on the island, for 18 years. Al in all, she has rented and managed properties on Fort Myers Beach for 42 years.
"I just love the Beach. When we first came down here to vacation, it must have been right after the war," she said. "I was still a kid, maybe 16 or 17 years old. My folks came down just before Christmas time because that was a slow time for them."
At that time, Estero Island was a portion of its 6-1/2 miles -transportation-wise.
"I remember the Beach as it used to be when you couldn't go any further than Connecticut Street. We used to get orange juice at a fruit stand by where Case Rigby used to be. Every morning, we would go down and get a gallon or two and drink it all day long. You couldn't get that up north."
Alsop moved to the Beach in December 1969 with four kids. She moved down because her parents had a home on Washington Court and parental guidance pushed her to join them.
"My father insisted that I moved here, so I bought a lot that was two lots from his. It really worked out nicely because I had small kids, and they'd watch them while I worked," she said.
Alsop eventually remarried and had another child, Eddie, who currently works for MD Electric. Beach resident Nancy Redenius is another one of her children that makes Estero Island their home.
"All of my children went through Beach Elementary School and furthered their education in the Southwest Florida area," she said.
Originally from "the country" portion of New York, about 50 miles east of Scranton, Pa., Alsop learned almost every facet of the hospitality field working at her parents' business.
"We had a resort hotel up there, so the rental business has always been part of my blood," she said. "If you wanted a chamber maid you knew where to find one. If you had to tend bar, you tended bar."
Her career line began when her mother wanted to take a real estate course to become certified. Her father said he would babysit if Ann accompanied her mother to Edison Community College and take the course as well. Upon graduation with an earned real estate license, she went to work at C.I. Harby.
Alsop's favorite Beach properties include 718 Estero Blvd. and 6082 Gulf Rd. -two seasonal rental properties.
"They are just gorgeous. They have a beautiful view of the Gulf," she said.
Alsop is a long-standing Beach Chamber member, who has picked up many awards from the nonprofit organization. She also is a board member of the Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve and used to belong to American Business Women's Association.
"I joined the chamber because of Petro (the late D.J. Petruccelli). I miss him so much," she said.
She listed the Beach Chamber's Outstanding Service Award as her favorite honor. She also served as Beach Chamber chairperson in 1997.
"To me, the one that was so important was the service award. They surprised me with it," she said. "I was just thrilled. It meant you really put the hours in."
Alsop was also a 2012 nominee for the Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Award, known as the E-Awards,
Although she no longer lives on the Beach (she moved off roughly 20 years ago and now resides in San Carlos Park), she is still eager to make the drive over Matanzas Bridge like she first did more than four decades ago.
"To come over the bridge and see the Gulf is still exhilarating," she said.
In her retirement, Alsop plans on reorganizing her home and concentrate on her sewing projects.
"First, I need to straighten up my house, and then I'll go to quilting. I love to quilt," she said. "There are some great grandchildren (three) I need to make some quilts for."