If you want a feel for the “old Orlando,” go spend some time with Bob Geller at Village on the Green. At 101 years old, he spent 70 of those years spent living and working in Central Florida. He’s seen a tremendous amount of change.
“I never thought it would get that big,” Bob says.
He came to Central Florida in 1953 from New York City. To put that in perspective, that was before:
- Lockheed Martin opened its Orlando facility in 1956.
- Alan Shepard Jr. piloted the first manned space launch from Cape Canaveral in 1961.
- The University of Central Florida opened in 1963.
- Interstate 4 opened in 1965.
- Walt Disney World opened in 1971.
“Nobody had heard of Orlando when I answered an advertisement looking for a CPA,” Bob says. “They took me in as a partner after two years and then I became the senior partner of the largest accounting firm in the area with 35 accountants at one point.
“It turned out to be a good move for me,” he adds.
For many years, Bob and his partner, Joseph Wittenstein, at the firm were quite the team. Bob focused on providing the clients with their accounting work while his partner spent time in the community building the business.
“I was lucky to join the right fellow because he had such a wonderful personality,” Bob says. “We could go to lunch together every day and he would always walk out of that lunch with a new client.”
The firm, GellerRagans, is still a leading accounting firm in Central Florida today. However, Bob has been retired from the firm for nearly as long as he worked there.
He still looks back fondly to those days. He was a devoted family man and father to three children. And he was very active in the Jewish community. He belonged to three temples in Orlando over the years.
When his wife developed Parkinson’s disease 20 years ago, the couple moved into Village on the Green. He was immediately recruited to be on the finance committee almost as soon as he moved in. He’s been on the healthcare committee and the resident council at Village on the Green.
He won a silver medal at the senior games as a swimmer. He played ping pong. He goes to ballroom dancing, which he became involved in ballroom dancing after a Sadie Hawkings dance at Village on the Green after someone asked him to dance. He had never danced before but found out he liked it.
At 101, it’s not easy to get around. “I’m just glad to be breathing every day,” Bob says. “I’ve lived a good life with no smoking, no drugs and just alcohol in moderation. Plus, I had good genes. My mother lived to 98 and her mother lived to 95. Plus, living here at Village on the Green in this worry-free and care-free environment has added years to my life.”
While he’s been unable to get to services as much as he used to, the services offered by The Jewish Pavilion helped him stay connected to his Judaism over the years.
“I used to be involved in everything here, which certainly added to my years,” Bob says. “Even to this day, I am never bored, I stay busy.”