Boca Festival co-founder Charles Siemon dead at 74
By Dale King
Boca Raton and South Florida have lost a knowledgeable member of the legal community, a land planner of considerable note and a lover of books, film, history and music who co-founded the Festival of the Arts Boca with his law partner, Wendy U. Larsen, in 2007.
Charles L. Siemon, who would have turned 75 on Sunday, Sept. 27, died Sept. 24. “It is with profound sadness that we share news that Charles Siemon, co-founder of Festival of the Arts Boca, passed away earlier this week in Marathon, Florida, surrounded by his family,” among them daughters Laura and Lisa, says an email sent from the Festival.
For decades, Mr. Siemon has appeared before the Boca Raton City Council and the city’s Planning and Zoning Board to explain construction projects planned within the city. Within the development community, he was considered the go-to guy for his expertise and ease of explaining what were often complex proposals.
His biography in a recent Festival program says Siemon was “a planning and planning law consultant who has provided professional services to public and private sector clients in more than 25 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in regard to land use planning, environmental planning, open space preservation, downtown revitalization, new community development, facilities financing and growth management.”
“Mr. Siemon has prepared comprehensive or special purpose plans and implementing regulations for local and regional governments and has assisted in the drafting of state legislation in a number of states.”
He was also responsible for developing and implementing a master plan for downtown redevelopment in Boca Raton. This resulted in a $50 million infrastructure and beautification program. Mizner Park, the city’s award-winning redevelopment project, was a direct result of this.
In addition, Mr. Siemon was involved in a beach and downtown redevelopment project in the city of Clearwater and also led the preparation of a downtown master plan, including the design of a new downtown from scratch, and a community redevelopment plan for the City of Oviedo.
He grew up in West Palm Beach where his family owned the familiar office supply company, Halsey and Griffith.
Ms. Larsen and Mr. Siemon were long-time partners in the law firm, Siemon & Larsen, which joined in partnership with the Orlando-based law firm, GrayRobinson, in 2013.
Mr. Siemon’s civic contributions include chair of and membership on the Boca Raton Community Hospital’s (now Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s) Board of Directors; member of the Boca Raton Community Hospital’s Finance and Outreach Committees and founding chairman of the non-profit organization entitled Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park, Inc., implementing and designing a cultural facilities center at the north end of Mizner Park.
He served on the Festival of the Arts Boca steering committee and as chair since the commencement of the Festival in 2007.
“Festival Boca was a crowning achievement in Charlie’s lifelong mission and passion to energize communities through the arts,” says the email from the Festival.
“As he said in a talk in 2015: ‘It’s our responsibility. We the people can make a difference in preserving the traditions of culture and community…Community is more than just a place…. It’s a place where people share. A place where we talk, where we experience…we need to be the stewards and the custodians of those important values — community and culture. And we can do it.”
No funeral arrangements had been announced at press time. Arrangements are by the Allen-Beyer Funeral Home in Key Largo. Donations, comments or tributes in his honor can by made via the home’s web site, beyerfuneral.net and by celebrating and supporting arts and culture wherever you are.
In memory of Charles, donations may be made to The Festival of the Arts Boca (www.festivalboca.org/donate).