Meet the

Meet the Board of Directors of Peace River Wildlife Center

Norine Walker – President

Norine Walker

Norine was a gifted runner during high school growing up Ridgewood, NJ (some of her records still stand!) and was recruited to the United States Military Academy at West Point (Class of 1991 – Systems Engineering) for Track and Cross Country. Norine was in just the 11th class of women to graduate West Point and became the first female S2 Military Intelligence Officer assigned to the 3/101 Attack Apache Helicopter Battalion. She was also the 1st Female Infantry MI Liaison Officer to the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Air Assault Division (also known as the RAKASSAN Brigade.)

After retiring from the military as a captain, Norine then focused her considerable talents on raising three children and supervising numerous moves around the country. She was active in coaching girls’ softball and track, and was a valued volunteer for the neighborhood school district.  Norine remarried in 2008 and inherited three more children! During this time, she discovered SW Florida and purchased a home in Punta Gorda in 2010. There she discovered the Peace River Wildlife Center. It became and is one of the “go to” places to bring family and friends. Norine continues to support West Point as an active Filed Force Representative helping new high school hopefuls with their mission to attend the Academy both in western New York and here in SW Fla. In 2020, Norine obtained her real estate license primarily to help military personnel find new homes in the area and networking with other Academy grads around the country. Since then, she also helps others via personal referrals. 

Fun Fact: Norine can’t sing a lick but isn’t afraid to demonstrate this unique ability!

Fun Fact: Norine ran the Boston Marathon in 2002 receiving a race bib as a thank you from the BAA after helping establish the Jay Lyons Scholarship Fund and Chairing a Road Race in his name, Jay who was a local fallen fire fighter. She is excited to join the board and work towards the next new chapter in the center’s growth.

Cary LiphartTreasurer

Cary Liphart

Cary is a native Floridian, originally from Jacksonville. He met his wife, Lyn, at Florida Southern College where he received a degree in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations and a minor in Psychology. He applied both degrees to a 23-year career in sales and sales management in a family business. In 1996, he sold the business to Sunbelt Marketing Investment Corp., the largest plumbing manufacturing rep in the US. Cary and Lyn then moved to Atlanta, where he transitioned to accounting. He oversaw accounts payable, insurance, telecommunications, rebates, taxes and special projects.

In 2019, his wife told him she was moving back to Florida, and that he was welcome to come, so Cary retired. Cary and Lyn currently reside in Punta Gorda and have two children and three grandsons.

Cary’s interest in PRWC stems from the dedication he sees from the staff and volunteers day in and day out. He believes that building the new facility is vital to helping the staff and volunteers do the wonderful work they do for the wildlife of SW Florida.

Lois CroftSecretary

Lois Croft

Lois Croft joined the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau as their Public Relations Manager in February 2023. In this role, Lois builds and strengthens relationships with travel editors, writers, and other journalists to facilitate media awareness to promote Charlotte County’s tourism opportunities as a premier vacation destination. Lois also coordinates press and familiarization tour trips as well as facilitates ongoing engagement opportunities with our local industry partners.

Lois’s previous position was with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) for eleven years and most recently here in Southwest Florida as the Regional Director where she built and managed chapters in Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties.

Lois is originally from Minnesota where she worked 23 years as a School District Administrator in Community Education Departments managing early childhood through adult education programs, facility and group reservations and a variety of student programs before moving to Florida in 2010. Lois also coached high school volleyball, basketball, and track for 10 years. She has one adult son who also lives in SW Florida.

John Benande Member at Large

John and his wife Bonnie retired to Punta Gorda in 2001. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he spent 32 years with AT&T Network Systems, Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies in Finance, Product Management, Marketing and Sales. Since coming to Punta Gorda, John has been active in the community as past President of the Arts and Humanities Council of Charlotte County, Beautification Program Leader for TEAM Punta Gorda, Board member at St, Andrews South Golf Club and now member at larger on the PRWC Board. When John found out the PRWC would remain and rebuild in Ponce Park, he knew he wanted to help. Also, John and Bonnie recently established The Peace River Wildlife Center Endowment Fund to provide a vehicle for donors to provide lasting contributions to the Center.

Fun Fact: Early in his career, John realized he loved cooking and used this as a means of managing stress. For many years now, he has done most of the grocery shopping and cooking in the family and often shares recipes with friends.

Paul Clark – Member at Large

Paul Clark

A retired military veteran, Paul served in a total of thirty years in three branches of the armed forces.He also served six years in law enforcement as a New Jersey Park Ranger and Maine State Forest Ranger, and was instrumental in the development of the Maine Emergency Services Paramedic and EMT training. As a nurse, he worked in a variety of hospitals throughout Maine and supervised an Emergency Room. Since 1976, Paul has been affiliated with the Red Cross in Maine and as a disaster volunteer deployed on many national disaster assignments. Most recently he was the Disaster Director at the Southern Maine Red Cross Chapter. Paul and his wife, Jane, with their cat Hidalgo moved to Florida from Portland, Maine.

Fun Fact: Hobbies range from leather work to beaded jewelry. Paul has always loved being around animals and was volunteering at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine before moving to Florida.

Fred Cort

Fred CortMember at Large

Fred grew up in New Jersey and then headed to Muhlenberg College where he graduated as a history major. Like many history majors, he found himself qualified for a wide variety of things, but nothing in particular. The college environment beckoned, so he spent ten plus years in college admissions and development work. He attended Ohio University for a masters in counseling and then finished all but the dissertation for a PH.D. in organizational behavior. That led to opportunities teaching a number of undergraduate courses as well as conducting various management workshops. He went on to join a local bank in need of human resource recruiting and management development. He held positions as director of corporate planning, head of retail banking and eventually regional president. Taking early retirement, he continued in management consulting. This included working with his wife, Carol, who worked for an international not-for-profit as head of human resources and facilities.

Fred and Carol lived on a trawler in New York harbor and spent much of their time travelling around the world which included Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East. A former banking colleague coaxed him out of retirement to help start a new bank. His job started as “other duties as assigned” and ranged from human resources to operations and technology, marketing, and facilities development. As the bank grew, he became chief administrative officer and the corporate secretary. In 2014, a major regional bank bought the start-up, so Fred and Carol, along with their three cats, retired to Punta Gorda. Dogs Boo and Charlee soon joined their family. Unfortunately, their cats have since passed, but Boo and Charlee are looking forward to seeing the wildlife center from a safe distance during their daily play time at Hounds on Henry.

Fred also volunteers with the United Way and the local chapter of Score which provides mentoring to small businesses. He served on the Punta Gorda Historic Preservation Advisory Board as an alternate and on the Punta Gorda Isles Canal Advisory Committee.

After graduating with a master degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Jay, and his artist wife Vicki, moved to Charlotte County in 1980 for Jay to work as a counselor at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care. His career in mental health required many hats including treatment, program development, fiscal management, and a great deal of lobby work at the state level. Jay retired in 2016 after serving his last ten years as the C.E.O. of Charlotte Behavioral Health care.

Jay GlynnMember at Large

Jay has always loved animals and nature. Since 1980 he and his wife have enjoyed many hours of boating on Charlotte Harbor. Most of their vacations have been to our National Parks hiking and enjoying nature and wildlife.

Fun Fact: After working all his career with people Jay wanted to work with animals and the environment. So, just a few months after retirement, he was pleased to be asked to join the Peace River Wildlife Center board.

Deb McCartyMember at Large

Deb McCarty

During my 39-year career in nursing, I was privileged to volunteer with numerous organizations. 
Starting small, I chaired several events at my son’s school, University Liggett located in Grosse Pointe Woods. Collaborating with connected people, I was convinced to join the “Fontbonne Auxiliary” of St. John Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. After a couple of years of helping with different fundraisers, I was ready to join the board of directors and chair my own events.

My first event was the “Holiday Spree,” a live and silent auction. For multiple years I chaired the “Holiday Gift Boutique,” touring the clubs of the Detroit area to sell fabulous items from the hospital gift shop. My largest event was the 2006 “White Christmas Ball” to finance the completion of the Sister Verenice McQuade Corridor of the hospital’s new pavilion. The Ritz Carleton in Dearborn, Mich. was transformed into a New York supper club for 460 guests to the theme, “Sparkle of the Big Apple.” We contacted Roxie Munro, an award-winning illustrator of twenty-seven books for children, as well as fourteen “New Yorker” magazine covers, who donated her cityscape artwork for the invitations and program book. The next year, Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit contacted me to help with seating for their first “Comedy Dinner.” I was then offered a position on the “Grosse Pointe Shores Improvement Foundation” to help with the annual picnic fundraiser. We raised monies to improve the aesthetics of our community.

Dr. Joseph ParrMember at Large

Dr. Joe Parr

Dr. Parr is originally from Michigan and attended Michigan State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in microbiology as well as his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. Dr. Parr practiced large animal medicine and surgery in Michigan for 30 years, concentrating his career on treating cattle and horses. He purchased his first veterinary practice in 1998 and soon realized that the practice management side of Veterinary Medicine also appealed to him. Dr. Parr retired from clinical practice in 2023 and still owns a portion of his Michigan veterinary practice where he is managing partner and is lucky to be able to carry out those duties from Florida.

Joe and his wife Carol have owned their home in Punta Gorda since 2015 and Carol was fortunate to retire here full time in 2021. Carol is a fantastic cook and in 2022 she started a personal chef business here in Punta Gorda. The couple enjoys boating and fishing as well as keeping fit. Joe is an avid runner and cyclist, and Carol has participated in local triathlons. Joe and Carol have three children who are spread across the South and Midwest.

After falling in love with Florida and its native wildlife population, Dr. Parr acquired his Florida Veterinary License in 2023 with the goal of using his degree to benefit the diverse and astounding wildlife here. Becoming a board member of the Peace River Wildlife Center was a perfect first step in this process.

Gary Wein

Gary WeinMember at Large

I was born in Chicago, in the Wrigleyville neighborhood (Go Cubs Go!) Having a public education, I graduated from Lane Tech High School with a “College Prep Tech Diploma”. I continued on to Eastern Illinois University obtaining a Zoology/Chemistry degree while working as a motorcycle mechanic.

Upon graduation I entered industry as a tech sales rep as an industrial and municipal water treatment specialist. I continued on in this industry my whole career through management and field engineering positions. I have traveled around the world during this endeavor.

I came to Punta Gorda in 2000, participating in several community organizations, serving as Vice Mayor of Punta Gorda and nonprofit organizations.

Russ Weston Member at Large

For the past 48 years I have been proud to call Alaska my home. Anyone who has spent that many winters in an arctic environment, knows the dream of one day finding and living in a warmer climate. While filming a project on Palm Island in 2013, my wife and I decided to purchase a home here with the intention of becoming “snowbirds.” It was not long after our closing that we realized, this is where we want to be.

Now, three years later it is with a smile on our faces that we call Punta Gorda home and have been fully enjoying our retirement.My career has always been that of a Photojournalist. Twenty five years with the United States Air Force as Director of their still and motion picture division. My military career has taken me to every corner of the world.

Upon my retirement from the military in 1993, Weston Productions was formed, focusing on Television with Documentary and News Magazine content. As a multiple winner of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences coveted EMMY Award, my work as been a part of such shows as HGTV’s House Hunters, Buying Beachfront, Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, Travel Channel, A&E, the History Channel, and National Geographic programming, to name just a few. My work was also a regular part of content on ABC’s World News Tonight, Good Morning America, NBC’s Nightly News, Dateline and CBS 60 Minutes. It is the desire of every journalist to have his or her work leave an impact on the world around them. I feel grateful and fulfilled that my work has accomplished that. It was always apparent to me how fortunate I was to have a career doing something I truly loved. Something that I would have done for nothing, if I could have supported my family.

Fun Fact:

Shop the PRWC Store – Help SAVE a “WILD” Life!

Bob WhiteMember at Large

Bob White

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I have been in Charlotte County for eleven years and I love being a part of the Charlotte County community.  I am the Executive Director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce and a graduate of Leadership Charlotte Class of 2015 (served as class president).  I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Charlotte County, Economic Development Partnership and now proudly serve as a Board of Director for the Peace River Wildlife Center.  I am married to my beautiful wife, Lori, have three grown sons, and seven grand-nuggets.