Jack and Beverly Circle bake fruitcakes to raise money for the Boca Raton
Museum of Art and its school.Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Paula Detwiller
He had a men’s clothing business in St. Louis. She had an antiques shop.
They raised two daughters and retired to Florida in 1985. But Jack and Beverly Circle of coastal Boca Raton never really retired.
“People up North think that you come down to Florida and you sit at the pool all day and do nothing,” says Beverly.
Not the Circles. They plunged into volunteer work and never looked back.
For the first few years, they took puppies and kittens from the Humane Society on visits to nursing homes.
Then Beverly read a story in a newspaper about people with AIDS being shunned by friends and family.
“So I said to Jack, ‘Honey, how would you like to cook and donate food to people with AIDS?’ He said, ‘I don’t know how to cook.’ I said, ‘I’ll teach you.’ ”
For the next 11 years, they cooked and packaged meals that were distributed to AIDS patients by a West Palm Beach food pantry.
“We ended up making as many as 500 packaged meals at one time, with an army of friends, in our small kitchen,” says Jack, 90. “This was a big project. It took two days to shop, one day to cook, and one day to prepare it all for distribution.”
“Everybody in our building got to know us, because we asked to use their freezers,” Beverly says. “Eventually we bought a big freezer and put it in a closet.”
As they got older, Beverly, 82, taught Jack the fine art of baking.
Together they bake crowd-pleasing fruitcake — yes, fruitcake — and sell it at various fundraising events for the Boca Raton Museum of Art and its affiliated art school.
“Jack and I said, ‘if you give us a table in a corner, we will bake and sell fruitcakes and give you all the money,’ ” Beverly said. “People came to our table and said, we don’t like fruitcake. So we gave them a sample. First time we did that, we made $950, in three hours.”
She won’t reveal the recipe, but says her fruitcakes contain 10 different fruits and no fat.
The Circles also bake nine kinds of biscotti. When Beverly volunteers each Wednesday evening at the museum’s front desk, she brings along a bag of her homemade biscotti to give to someone deserving.
Jack says Beverly’s biscotti are so good, they open doors.
The Circles once got a room in a booked-up Montreal hotel by offering the manager a bag of their cookies.
On another trip, they avoided paying duty on a trunkful of merchandise by giving Canadian customs agents a similar biscotti “bribe.”
Through all of their adventures, Jack and Beverly have stuck together. They’ve been a team for 62 years now. And they greatly enjoy giving their time, talent, and treasure to the Boca Museum of Art.
“Whenever they need someone, all they have to do is call us, and we’re available,” Jack said. Ú