‘Family secrets’ from Vero’s legendary Sextons topic of Emerson Center program

VERO BEACH – Considering that Waldo Sexton is perhaps the most notable patriarch of Vero Beach and his descendants are some of our most interesting and engaging neighbors, a special “public” family round-table is being convened on the stage of The Emerson Center and everyone is invited to attend.

This fast-paced, free-wheeling discussion will happen on Thursday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.  Admission is free and is offered on a first-come basis.

This event is presented as part of the venue’s popular Florida Humanities Series in cooperation with the Treasure Coast History Festival. Descendants of the legendary Waldo Sexton will share the family’s favorite recollections of their enigmatic grandfather and update us on the family whose name has become synonymous with “Vero Beach.”

Featured family members will include Sexton grandchildren Sean Sexton, Mark Tripson, Logan Tripson Geeslin, Jenz Tripson, Bonnie Schwey, Randy Sexton and many others.

The evening promises up-close insights into their legendary family with a focus on the iconoclastic, visionary grandfather who gave our community such unique landmarks as McKee Botanical Gardens, the Driftwood Inn, the Ocean Grill, the Patio Restaurant, and the Szechuan Palace Restaurant.

In addition, the presentation will reveal the diverse and creative entrepreneurial paths the family has taken in art, agriculture, real estate, and historic preservation.

This Thursday evening presentation kicks off The Treasure Coast History Festival, a two-day event presented free to the public. The Festival continues on Saturday, Jan. 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of downtown Fort Pierce’s Sunrise Theatre.

The Saturday event features historical re-enactors, trolley tours, ghost tours, an early Florida cattle camp exhibition, primitive crafts, and an Authors Alley showcasing Treasure Coast writers and their books.

An authentic Summerlin Family Fish Fry, offered at $12 a plate, will be held at 11 a.m.

The History Festival also features two presentations in the Sunrise Theatre Black Box. A session at 10:30 a.m. highlights the history of the Adams Ranch and features brothers Mike, Lee, and Robbie Adams. At 12:30 p.m., students from Indian River Charter High School will present excerpts from “American Jazz,’’ a musical based on the discovery of recent letters between Waldo Sexton and author Zora Neale Hurston. A session at 1:30 p.m. will explore the establishment of Fort Pierce as a military base in 1848 during the Second Seminole War.

The Florida Humanities Series programs are presented by The Emerson Center at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Vero Beach and offers presentations relating to Florida history, people, and culture.

All performances begin at 7 p.m. Admission to each event is free, although a goodwill offering is solicited.

Upcoming Humanities Series’ programs include actor Ersula Knox-Odom performing “The Voice of Mary McLeod Bethune” on Feb. 1 and local journalist Janie Gould speaking on “Global Events That Touched Florida: Great Depression Through Cold War” on March 29.


This series is sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, www.FloridaHumanities.org, with funds from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs. Marine Bank and Trust Company provides additional funding.

Free admission is available on a first-come first-served basis. The Emerson Center is handicap accessible and is conveniently located at 1590 27th Avenue, on the SE corner of 16th Street and 27th Avenue in Vero Beach. For more information, contact the Emerson box office at 772-778-5249.

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