In Memory of Richard Storm
First Executive Director of Seaside Institute
July 30, 1937 - October 19, 2019
“Richard Storm was the Seaside Institute’s first Executive Director. Prior to Richard’s arrival, Institute programs had been run by Carmel Modica, among her numerous responsibilities as Marketing Director.
When he arrived in Seaside, Richard was in culture shock, having left Italy after quite a few years as an expat. He was fluent in Italian, unlike some expats, and he had become thoroughly acclimated to a culture that was, to put it mildly, a bit different from the Florida Panhandle in the early nineties.
I, myself, was in culture shock, and I had only spent seven months in Italy, much of it at the American Academy in Rome, where American English was the lingua Franca. It was reassuring for both of us italophiles to be able to share espresso and try to acclimate to our new surroundings.
Richard knew a lot about art and music, and he was able to build the Institute’s cultural offerings during his brief tenure. The Institute had already begun to host seminars on urbanism in the mid-eighties, and its annual Columbus Day “Rediscovery of America” gatherings had gathered an impressive group of people working on reviving the techniques of traditional town building, before these techniques and ideas had become a movement called The New Urbanism. Richard, from living in towns that were compact, walkable and beautiful, because they were thousands of years old, intuitively understood the ideas that we were trying to rediscover and revive, and he was able to organize gatherings that were productive and enjoyable.
But Richard’s role as Director of the Seaside Institute was short-lived. He told me that he needed to return to Sarasota to care for an aging parent, but I suspected that he simply could not spend another day in the “House of the Tragic Poet”. Because we had little money, part of Richard’s compensation was free lodging. And the lodging that would have been free much of the time anyway was a penthouse above the Dreamland Heights building that Steven Holl, its designer, had given an apt name. There were also five penthouses for “Boisterous” types, facing west to toast the sunset. And there were two another east-facing penthouses for “Melancholic” types who rose early. These were the “House of the Musician” and the “House of the Mathematician”
Richard loved music, and he might have thrived in the light-filled House of the Musician. He was definitely not the dark and brooding type for whom his tragic and poetical abode had been designed.
But even though his residence in Seaside was short-lived, his engagement with the Institute was deep. He became a board member and a founding member of the group that created and nurtured “Escape to Create” the artist/scholar residency program that was incubated by the Institute and that continues as a separate non-profit with a long and illustrious history.
Richard went back to Sarasota, and he helped Piero Rivolta develop Musica d’Asolo, a chamber music program that is one of Florida’s gems. He introduced Piero and me over a decade ago, when he found out that we would both be in Carmel/Pebble Beach for Car Week, and Piero asked if he could invite his daughter and son-in-law, Marella and Andrea Zagato to the dinner that Mark Gessler and I had invited him to join. And that, in turn, led to Mark’s Mille Miglia Team becoming the Scuderia Sports Zagato and to my visit, as part of the Scuderia, to the Zagato Carrozzeria, one of the last remaining coach building shops in Italy.
As a founder of Escape to Create, Richard exercised his talent for putting people from differing world together, knowing the alchemy of friendship so well that he could usually predict when people would enjoy each other’s company. I will miss Richard, but the lifelong connections he helped inspire will be there for us as long as those of us whose lives he touched continue to be alive, ourselves.”
—Robert & Daryl Davis, Co-Founders