CLEARWATER — Nadine Carlisle met her husband on a blind date.
It was 1941, her freshman year at the University of Missouri. She was a Pi Beta Phi sorority pledge. Daniel Carlisle, also a freshman, had decided to pledge Sigma Nu.
On their Monday night date, set up by their respective fraternal organizations during rush week, the would-be couple drank beer and talked. The following nights organizers paired them with different partners. But by Thursday, they had found each other again. It was, her husband jokes, love at second sight.
"We feel in love right away," Daniel Carlisle said.
Theirs was a love that lasted. The couple made it to their 64th wedding anniversary, though this year, they marked the milestone in a hospital room. Nadine Carlisle was continuing a long battle with cancer.
Still, the sterile environs did not stifle the couple's joy.
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Nadine James Carlisle, wife, mother, golfer, philanthropist and socialite, died Aug. 21. She was 84.
Born to a banker and a homemaker in Kansas City, Mo., Mrs. Carlisle entered college with dreams of graduation. But her father's death and economic realities cut short her college career after only one year. She went to work as a secretary for an attorney and an engineer.
She kept in touch with her beau through letters and by phone. The couple married in 1944.
Although the Carlisles would eventually own one of the most successful Lincoln/Mercury car dealerships in the country and become power brokers and philanthropists in Clearwater, they had humble beginnings. When she got ready to marry Daniel, who was by then an Army officer, he asked her to find him an official uniform for the ceremony.
She did not let him down.
"Turns out the only place she could get a uniform was the streetcar conductor," Carlisle said. "That's what we were married in."
The couple and their three sons moved to Clearwater from Princeton, Mo., in 1956. While her husband worked to grow his car dealership, Carlisle Motors, she turned her attention to her sons and community work. She became a staple on PTA boards and began a steady climb up the ranks as a socialite. She modeled for charity events, opened her home to fundraising parties and participated in several women's clubs.
Gregarious and friendly, Mrs. Carlisle also found time to be the kind of quiet, insightful friend who offered comfort when a spouse died or the type of mother who urged her children to be self-reliant but gently guided them when they went astray.
About a decade ago, Mrs. Carlisle decided to start a chapter of the Red Hat Society in Belleair. Jane Phillips, her friend of 35 years, was skeptical at first. Mrs. Carlisle reassured her.
She said "you just meet and have fun, have a few drinks and dress up crazy," Phillips said. "We met once a month with a group of gals, and we had a great time. She was what we called our queen mother."
Much of Mrs. Carlisle's free time was spent on the golf course, where she won several tournaments. She was also fond of exotic trips. Her passport has stamps from countries such as New Zealand, China, India and South Africa.
Although her name adorns everything from a scholarship fund at St. Petersburg College to buildings, including the Carlisle Imaging Center at Morton Plant Hospital, family members said Mrs. Carlisle never felt that she was wealthy.
"She was very frugal and never put on airs or spent money extravagantly," said John Carlisle, one of her sons. "As soon as they sold their business, and got a lot of money, they gave a lot away. She really valued being a part of the community more than being wealthy and having special status."
Sherri Day can be reached at email@example.com or (813)226-3405.