She put her personality into her professions

By Marty Clear
Published May 11, 2007

SOUTH TAMPA - Libby Guyer-Rettig never graduated from college, and had little formal career training.

What she had instead was limitless energy and a genuine affection for people and her community. She parlayed those attributes, along with her magnetic personality, into successful careers locally in hospital administration and real estate.

Mrs. Guyer-Rettig died May 5 at age 70. The cause of her death is unknown.

"We're waiting to find out, " said her son, Britt Guyer. "She started feeling like she was having the symptoms of a stroke while she was sitting at dinner, and she had to be rushed to the hospital."

She died before her condition could be diagnosed, Guyer said.

Mrs. Guyer-Rettig grew up in Palm Beach. She was a student at Bradford College in Haverhill, Mass., when she met a West Point man named Jim Guyer. They married when she was 19. Within four years, the couple had their first two children. Her husband's work brought him to Tampa, and the family settled in Beach Park, where their youngest child, Britt, was born.

One thing Britt Guyer remembers about his childhood is that his mother always went out of her way to make her kids feel that they were cherished.

"Christmas, birthdays holidays, she always did something special, " he said. "It wasn't just inviting a few people over. It was always special."

Her habit of extravagant celebrations didn't end when her children were grown, Guyer said. At the time of her death, she was planning a lavish surprise party for her son Jimmy's 50th birthday.

She stayed active through work with the Junior League and other community organizations, but she didn't begin her career until she was in her 30s.

By that time she and her first husband were divorced. She took a job at a downtown bank and later became a patient representative at Tampa General Hospital. It was her job to make sure patients and their families had everything they needed, that nothing fell through bureaucratic cracks.

She proved so good at the job that she soon became the director of patient services at TGH.

She spent 13 years at the hospital. In the mid 1980s, she left Tampa to take care of her father in Palm Beach. She stayed there about five years, then returned to Tampa for good in 1992. She lived at Monte Carlo Towers with her father until his death.

She had dabbled in real estate sales during her first stint in Tampa, and she became an expert in selling luxury homes while living in Palm Beach. When she returned to Tampa, she became an agent for Smith and Associates and specialized in selling million-dollar homes in South Tampa.

Ten years ago, she met her second husband, Jim Rettig.

"They were best friends, and they were soulmates, " her son said. "They were always on the go, and they were very social. But every Friday you knew where they'd be. They were at Palma Ceia Country Club, and they'd be dancing. That was their favorite thing."

Mrs. Guyer-Rettig stopped working about a year ago, but retirement didn't slow her down. She took the opportunity to refresh some old skills.

"We never knew it but she was a wonderful painter, and she did these wonderful watercolor landscapes, " Guyer said. "And she wrote beautiful poems. She had all these talents that she never had time to exploit. She was just a wonderful person with a beautiful heart."

Besides her sons and her husband, Mrs. Guyer-Rettig is survived by her daughter Kathy, three grandchildren and four stepchildren.