Endurance Test

A look back at the first 50 Most Powerful issue.

This issue features our 12th annual 50 Most Powerful People list, and it’s always interesting to go back in time and see how some of the city’s movers and shakers have moved on, while others have endured.

So here’s our blast from the past: In July 2004, the top five 50 Most Powerful were Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty; Walt Disney World President Al Weiss; hotelier Harris Rosen; Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings; and Darden Restaurants CEO Joe Lee. Today, all have cycled out because of retirement, new jobs or changing administrations—except for Rosen. He has remained a fixture on our list every year for the past decade because of his contributions to the economy and his philanthropy.

Besides Rosen, the other notables from 2004 who also appear on the 2015 list are UCF President John Hitt (who was No. 6 in 2004); and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (who came in at No. 11, having been elected to his first term the previous year). Also, Universal’s Tom Williams; U.S. Rep. John Mica, state Sen. Dan Webster (now a U.S. congressman); attorney David Brown; consultant Dick Batchelor; Judge Belvin Perry Jr. (now a private attorney); the Orlando Chamber’s Jacob Stuart; developer Craig Ustler; and Seminole State College President E. Ann McGee.

Dyer, of course, didn’t stay outside the Top 10 for long. The 2015 issue is the third consecutive year we’ve selected him as Orlando’s most powerful person. He also led the list in 2008 and 2010, which means the Orlando mayor has been tops for five of the 50 Most’s dozen years in existence. Read Jim Leusner’s profile of Dyer here, and you’ll see why. The 50 Most Powerful compendium also includes extended features on several other individuals who have fascinating stories to tell.

But to get the real scoop on power and endurance, check out Michael McLeod’s essay on Orlando’s most majestic residents: live oaks. McLeod focuses on five giants that have survived everything man and nature has thrown at them for a century or more. Roberto Gonzalez’s marvelous photos accompany the piece.

Elsewhere, dining critic Joseph Hayes chats up Alexia and Rhys Gawlak at Swine & Sons, while writer Nancy Moreland takes us on a journey to peaceful Blue Ridge, Georgia. And columnist Greg Dawson, in honor of the new movie Ant-Man, wonders if the most powerful beings around us are actually members of that massive familiar social network scurrying around underfoot.

Finally, a special thanks to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for allowing us access to photograph our 50 Most Powerful subjects. The dazzling venue was a perfect setting. 

Categories: Column