Carolyne Norwood was Anna Maria’s preeminent historian

Carolyne Norwood was Anna Maria’s preeminent historian
Written by Carolyne Norwood, these two books are on display and for sale at the AMI Historical Museum. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Carolyne Norwood played a vital role in preserving the history of Anna Maria Island. She also made a lot of friends during her decades on the Island.

Carolyne Norwood was Anna Maria’s preeminent historian
George and Carolyne Norwood loved Anna Maria Island. – The Norwood Family

Norwood, who passed away on Jan. 4, authored two books about the Island: “Anna Maria Island, The Early Days, 1893-1940” and “Anna Maria Island, 1940-1970, Tales of Three Cities, From Bean Point to Bridge Street.”

She and Pat Copeland co-founded the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and the Historical Museum.

Beginning in 1970, Norwood spent many years sharing stories and photographs about the Island while working as a reporter for publisher Don Moore at the original Islander newspaper.

In a “Remember When” column she wrote in 2000, Norwood said her time as a reporter made her realize how many “priceless artifacts from the early days on this island were disappearing,” and that inspired the formation of the Historical Society in 1990.

An Island icon

Historical Society member and museum volunteer Evelyn Hoskins met Norwood after moving to Anna Maria in 2007.

“Carolyn was so knowledgeable about the Island and she was such a wonderful, gracious, pleasant and friendly lady. She will be greatly missed. She was such an asset to this whole Island. She did such a wonderful thing taking the time to write those books and explain the history of the Island. She and Pat started the Historical Society. Without their hard work, we would not have the museum we have now,” Hoskins said.

Carolyne Norwood was Anna Maria’s preeminent historian
Carolyne Norwood co-founded the AMI Historical Society and the Historical Museum. – The Norwood Family | Submitted

Island restaurauteur and businessman Ed Chiles provided the Historical Society with the financial support it needed to get started.

“Carolyne was an unflinching advocate for retaining the character of our Island. The Anna Maria Historical Society would not be what it is today without her passion,” Chiles said.

Seasonal Anna Maria resident Judy Hildman was close friends with Norwood and often visited her at her home in Bradenton.

“Her recording of the history of the Island is what made me fall in love with the Island. When I was reading her first book, I went exploring the places she wrote about, including the estate of ‘Miss Eddy the millionairess,’ which is now Banyan Tree Estates,” Hildman said.

“I had already read her book when I first met her at the museum. I said, ‘Carolyne, you’re my idol on the Island.’ I frequently told her that throughout the years and I was grateful that I was able to tell her that the day before she died. What a gift she left to the Island with the museum and the preservation of our history,” Hildman said.

Norwood and her husband George raised their four children on Anna Maria Island.

“As a mom, she was fun-loving and very adventuresome,” said her daughter, Linda Kinnan.

Carolyne Norwood was Anna Maria’s preeminent historian
Carolyne Norwood, second from left, celebrated her 90th birthday in 2017 with her sons John, Nick and Bill and her daughter Linda. – The Norwood Family | Submitted

“She really came to life once the family moved to Anna Maria back in 1956, when I was seven. My brothers and I all grew up on the Island. She loved the beach and our parents loved the Island lifestyle. They loved to fish, waterski and go boating, and they had a great group of friends. She was very creative, artistic and multi-talented and she always had projects going on,” Kinnan said.

Daryl Van Ostenbridge and her husband, John were close friends with the Norwoods.

“We had so many adventures. She arrived here from the Baltimore area not knowing anybody. We each had four children and Carolyne and I were both stay at home mothers, so we often were on the beach,” Van Ostenbridge said.

“She amazed me. She was a great journalist. She was co-founder of the Historical Society and she wrote two books. She could paint and she took classes all the time. She did calligraphy, art and stained glass. She was very talented. She’s at peace,” Van Ostenbridge said.

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