He Wore Many Hats

Author, Lila Zuck

Seventy-three percent of Naples’ voting residents, or 5,060 persons, elected Edwin “Ned” J. Putzell, Jr.

Edwin J. Putzell, Jr., Mayor of the City of Naples, 1986-1990.

Mayor of Naples in February 1986. He was the first mayor to serve the new four-year mayoral term.

Ned Putzell was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1913. When he was six months old, his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was raised. His father was an electrical engineer who built most of the electrical plants in the South. Ned Putzell attended Tulane University before obtaining a Law Degree from Harvard Law School in 1938.

In 1939, he joined the New York City law firm of William Donovan, the highly decorated World War I veteran known as “Wild Bill Donovan,” head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the precursor to the CIA). During World War II, Lieutenant Putzell was an OSS intelligence officer until 1946, working from the White House basement.

After World War II, Putzell became vice-chairman of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, and was a member of the board of St. Luke’s Hospital, only two of the many boards on which he served before moving to Florida.

Intending to retire at age 66 when he relocated to Naples in 1979 from St. Louis, Missouri, Ned Putzell accepted appointment that year by City Council to a four-year term as Commissioner of the Naples Airport Authority. In 1984, he embarked on the first of two consecutive four-year terms as Chairman of the Board of Provincetown-Boston Airlines, and in 1993 was reappointed commissioner of the Naples Airport Authority. In 1995 he received the Naples Daily News Outstanding Citizen Award. His wife, Dorothy Putzell, was one of the founders in 1982 of the Community School of Naples.

Putzell volunteered at the Collier County Conservancy for four years, eight hours a day, five days a week, and in 1982 succeeded Willard V. Merrihue as President and Chief Executive Officer, serving in that capacity until 1984. He consolidated and streamlined operations at the Conservancy and organized the Conservancy’s volunteer program. When he stepped down as president of the Conservancy, he became Conservancy Board Chairman and Interim Chairman of Provincetown-Boston Airlines during its reorganization.

Encouraged by residents to run for Mayor of Naples, he admitted openly that he had never been in or was inspired to get involved in public affairs. His legacy reveals otherwise. His secretary, Mae Davis, called him “a locomotive” and Bonnie Mackenzie, Mayor of Naples in 2000, affirmed that “when he talked about the City of Naples, his whole face would light up.”

Mayor Putzell inaugurated the age old practice of holding town hall meetings. They were held twice a year in two different neighborhoods to encourage and improve communication between residents and the City. He also inaugurated the publication of a quarterly newsletter called “City Hall Brief.” Mailed to residents, it informed them of the City’s 3-Ps: Programs, Problems and Progress.

Pursuant to the 2,104-acre, Pelican Bay annexation request by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which ultimately dragged on through six administrations including his, Mayor Putzel felt it was important for the public to both understand the annexation procedure and also understand that the city did not pursue annexations.

In order to accomplish this, Mayor Putzel enlisted the assistance of the Collier County Commissioners. Over lunch at City Hall, in November 1986, Naples City Council and the Commissioners began drafting the first City of Naples Annexation Policy. The final copy was ready in 1987.