By Rich Pollack
HIGHLAND BEACH — Arlin Voress was a former Highland Beach mayor who used his business acumen along with his engineering and mechanical skills to leave an indelible mark as he guided the town through some of its most turbulent times.
A town commissioner and later mayor for three terms in the mid-1990s, Mr. Voress died Dec. 22 after a short illness. He was 93.
“He did an excellent job as mayor,” said John Rand, vice mayor during Mr. Voress’ time in office. “He always provided leadership and did what had to be done.”
In addition to being credited with saving the town more than $30 million by negotiating a legal settlement that led to the development of what is now Toscana, Mr. Voress is known as one of the driving forces behind the building of the town’s reverse osmosis water plant and overseeing the expansion of the Town Hall complex.
“He was very much involved in the affairs of the town,” Rand said.
Born in Charleston, W.Va., Mr. Voress attended West Virginia University, where he received a degree in chemical engineering. During World War II, Mr. Voress served in the U.S. Navy, where he taught radar and sonar while stationed in Newport News, Va.
Following his time in the service, Mr. Voress began a 40-year career with Union Carbide, where he had various roles, including managing plants, before leaving as vice president of environment, health and safety. In the 1980s, Mr. Voress and his wife, Cary Lou, came to Highland Beach, where he soon became involved in town government, first serving on the Water Advisory Board and later running for office. Described by his daughters, Mary Wild, of Colorado, and Louise Voress, of Virginia, as a determined leader in family, government and life, Mr. Voress was known as someone who would listen and absorb information, analyze it, come to a conclusion and then announce his decision.
“He was definite about the things he thought,” Mary Wild said. “He would change his mind but only on his terms.”
Louise Voress remembers her father as someone who was always willing to share his knowledge.
“I think of him as a great teacher but also a great student,” she said. “He was always the source of information but he also recognized there were things he wanted to know.”
The daughters tell of how their father made them prove they knew how to change a tire before he would allow them to take a car to college.
Drawn to South Florida so he and his family could enjoy boating, fishing and the beach, Mr. Voress is also remembered for his love of string ties.
As mayor, Mr. Voress was thrust into the middle of several land-use legal battles that led to a $30 million judgment against the town. Working with a team of lawyers in South Florida and Washington, D.C., Mr. Voress oversaw a compromise that led to the town’s permitting development of a project with only half of the units originally sought in return for the judgment’s dismissal.
“Arlin was very dedicated to the town,” said his longtime next-door neighbor Mayde Weiner. “He was a visionary who was able to foresee the growth that was coming.”
Weiner said that Mr. Voress and Cary Lou were outstanding neighbors, with Mr. Voress always willing to share his expertise.
“He was very wise and fair- minded,” she said.
Mr. Voress is survived by his wife of 68 years, Cary Louise Edgar Voress; daughters, Elisabeth Louise Voress and Mary Ann Voress Wild; grandchildren, Matthew Claude Wild, Taylor Gray Wild, and Laura Elisabeth Wild; brother, Hugh Ellison Voress; sister, Shirley Lee Voress Martin; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services will be held in Charleston at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mr. Voress’ name to the Friends of the Highland Beach Library, 3618 S. Ocean Blvd., Highland Beach.