Beloved GOP Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert dead at 78, replacement to be named by Gov. DeSantis

 April 8, 2023

A prominent and well-regarded Republican official in Sarasota County, Florida has passed away and is now being mourned by her many colleagues and friends in her community and across the state.

Nancy Detert, the vice chair of the Sarasota County Commission, reportedly passed away peacefully at her Venice home on Wednesday at the age of 78, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Detert was first elected to the commission in 2016 and then re-elected in 2020, and a replacement to serve out the remainder of her term that expires in 2024 will be appointed in the coming days by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Death announced by county commission

"It is with deepest regret and sadness that Sarasota County and the Board of County Commissioners must acknowledge the death of our dear friend and colleague Sarasota County Commission Vice Chair Nancy C. Detert," the Sarasota County Commission said in a statement Wednesday evening. "Commissioner Detert passed away peacefully in her home on April 5, and no foul play is suspected, according to the Sarasota County (FL) Sheriff's Office."

"Our focus right now is on supporting Nancy’s family and ensuring the continuity of government," the statement added. "Details regarding forthcoming memorial services will be made public as information becomes available. We ask that the community respects the privacy of Nancy’s family and friends at this time."

According to the Herald-Tribune, there will be a funeral service for Detert at the Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on an unspecified date that will be announced after Easter. Following that, there will also be a memorial celebration at the Venice Community Center that is tentatively scheduled for April 21 or 22.

Involved in Florida politics since the 1980s

The Herald-Tribune reported that Nancy Detert was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Siena Heights University in Michigan before eventually moving to Florida in 1978 with her husband and three sons, where she had lived ever since.

Her political career began in 1988 when she was elected to serve on the Sarasota County School Board until 1992. Detert was then elected to the Florida House in 1998 and served until 2006, when she launched a failed bid for Congress.

After that, she was elected to the Florida Senate in 2008 and served there until 2016 when she ran for and won a seat on the county commission.

Condolences and mourning

Florida Politics reported that statements of grief at her loss and high praise for her accomplishments poured in from many of her fellow Florida Republicans following her death.

"The Republican Party of Sarasota County deeply mourns the loss of friend and longtime community leader Nancy Detert, who has been a stalwart working on behalf of the people of Sarasota County for 30 years, as a member of the Sarasota County School Board, the Florida Legislature and the Sarasota County Commission," county party chairman Jack Brill said in a statement.

"She is well-known and respected by people in both parties who agreed and disagreed with her. Nancy did her homework, knew the issues, and knew the people in her community. She was always an honest broker, doing what she believed was right, even if it hurt her politically," he added. "She was a beloved mother, grandmother, and friend to so many. Nancy leaves a legacy of caring, fighting for the people in her community, and being a quiet friend to countless people. Her passing on Tuesday leaves a huge hole, not just in the Republican Party or in politics, but in our community."

Members of Congress express how "saddened" they are at Detert's death

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), who defeated Detert in her 2006 congressional bid, said in a tweet, "Saddened by the death of Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert. She was a beloved public servant, a worthy primary opponent with a quick wit, and a friend. She will be missed by her constituents, colleagues, family and friends."

Likewise, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), who had replaced Detert in her state Senate seat, tweeted, "I am saddened to hear about the passing of Nancy Detert. As one of Sarasota’s most dedicated public servants, she fought tirelessly for what she believed in and will be greatly missed. Jen and I are praying for her family, friends, and all who knew her."

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