Alumna Endows Scholarship to Honor Musician Sister

Bobbie Lou Kaminis (1964) and Jan Kaminis Platt (1958), yearbook photos courtesy of Heritage Protocol

Gentle. Artistic. Perfectionist. This is how Florida State University alumna Jan Kaminis Platt (B.A., ‘58) describes her younger sister, Bobbie Lou Kaminis (B.A., ’64). Raised in Tampa, Florida, Bobbie Lou excelled in the arts and went on to attend Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. However, her distaste for the cold weather lead her to transfer to Florida State University where she continued her studies.

At Florida State, Bobbie Lou majored in languages and was an active member of the FSU community, performing in the University Symphony as well as joining various honor societies, sororities and leadership councils. She was praised for her performance as female lead in the University’s production of “Kismet,” selected as part of “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges” and honored as one of 10 students to be inducted into the 1964 Florida State University Hall of Fame. Bobbie Lou was also selected as a Fulbright Scholar as well as a Phi Beta Kappa member.

Bobbie Lou traveled extensively after college, singing and playing the violin on musical tours—the inauguration tour of Governor Reubin O’D. Askew and throughout the United States and Europe as well as for soldiers overseas. She was also a poet, publishing a book in 1968 entitled “To Leave the World Too Felt,” in which one of the poems was later put to music by fellow Florida State alumna Mary Carroll Warwick.

However, throughout all of this, Bobbie Lou was fighting breast cancer after being diagnosed when she was 23-years-old. After a long, eight-year battle with the disease, she passed away on March, 3 1974. Seeing her sister’s tenacity and love for life, Jan was inspired to follow her own passion.

Two days after Bobbie Lou’s passing, Tampa Mayor Dick Greco resigned from office, resulting in three empty seats on the Tampa City Council. Jan, a political science graduate and history teacher at Plant and Hillsborough High Schools, then made a decision that would launch her 28-year career in politics.

“I had a responsibility to do what I had been trained to do and I declared my candidacy for the city council seat,” said Jan. “I dedicated my political career to my sister because she taught me that life is short and you have a responsibility to do the best you can.”

After four years on the Tampa City Council, Jan was elected to the Hillsborough County Commission. There, she served for 24 years before retiring in 2004. Throughout her career, Jan was known to be a leader for the environment, creating The Agency on Bay Management, The Tampa Bay Estuary Program and the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program. She has also been an avid supporter of education and libraries, leading to the naming of the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in 2000 for her leadership in the merging of city and county libraries in Tampa and Hillsborough County.

With the hope that others will be also be inspired by Bobbie Lou’s life as a talented musician and exceptional student, Jan created an endowed scholarship for FSU College of Music students. The Bobbie Lou Kaminis Endowed Scholarship in Music serves as a lasting tribute to Bobbie Lou and will carry on her legacy for generations of students.

“I want my sister to be remembered, and I hope students will be inspired to excel in music and explore the various options of careers in music, much like Bobbie Lou did,” Jan said. “If they apply themselves, become proficient and nurture their musical talent, they can share it with the world. Music is to be shared, and my sister shared it. Hopefully the recipients can share it too.”

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