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CAROLINE VISITS FLORIDA

In March of 2013 Caroline Adair Dimmers visited Florida and participated in a luncheon of the Welcome to Florida international Club. There she took part in a skit put together by Barbara Roy, one of the members of the club. All Board members represented historical figures from Naples, Florida beginnings. Caroline portrayed her mother Marian Wood Adair. That gave the members (especially the ones that never met Marian) the wonderful opportunity to learn about their Founder in an intimate way. It was a great success!

This is the speech Barbara Roy wrote for Caroline to read. My name is Marian Wood Adair. I was born in Ann Harbor, Michigan in 1908. When I was 3, we moved to Hillsdale, Michigan. I graduated from Hillsdale College. That’s where I met Ross, my husband. When Ross first called for a date, I asked, “How do I know you?” He responded, “I pass you every day on East College steps.” Then I asked, “What do you look like?” he responded, “I’m tall, dark and handsome.” What an egotist, I thought, and said, “No.” When my friends heard that I had turned down a date with Ross Adair, they said, “Did you know that he is a Big Man on campus? He is editor of the yearbook, president of his fraternity and on the debate team.” I had made a huge mistake. When we again met on East College steps, I asked him to be my date for the Sorority Dance. He said, “I will think about it and let you know tomorrow.” At the dance, he confessed that he had a friend call me for the first date – the friend said “tall, dark and handsome!” Our romance took off after that rocky start. Ross and I married a few years later. Ross ran for Congress in 1950 and won! Our lives changed forever. We were deeply involved in politics and government throughout the rest of our lives. Who would have imagined that after being in Congress for 20 years, Ross would be appointed Ambassador to Ethiopia? We lived there for three years and loved the people and the culture. When we moved to Washington, our horizons to the world opened. People were in Washington from all over the world. Meeting those internationals whose views were different from ours was interesting and stimulating.

I was privileged to hear and to meet some very special people. I heard Winston Churchill speak – privately I will say he was a little boring during his speech. I met Princess Elizabeth who was charming. I was in the audience when General MacArthur was released from his position by President Truman. I also met Queen Julianna and her husband, Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands. What an exciting life it was for this woman from the small town of Hillsdale as I met and got to know Presidents and First Ladies. I wanted others to have the opportunity to make friends with women from around the world. In 1953 I asked 8 other women to help form a small club for Ambassador’s wives, Congressmen’s wives and local leaders’ wives. Most of the husbands dealt with international matters. When my husband and I acquired property in Bonita Springs, I had a growing desire to start another Welcome Club. A very good friend living in Naples, Helen Paret, agreed to work with me. That’s the beginning inspiration of Welcome to Florida in 1986. This group focuses less on governmental or cultural affairs and more on specific interests and hobbies of its members. This group has been open for Americans and Internationals. In 1998, Welcome to Florida hosted the WCI International Conference with women from around the world attending. I am delighted to say that today this is a vibrant group of 200 ladies. And, I am proud to say, that Marian Wood Adair was my mother.

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