The year 2010 is now concluded, and as one looks back, it is sad to reflect on the incredible loss of so many of Marco’s leaders, community and business titans. We are closing not only another decade, but also closing a chapter on Marco’s recent history, and it leaves one to wonder if the large void left by these larger-than-life leaders can really be adequately filled?
Looking back, we review a group of citizens who left a legacy here, each in their own way, making our island a better place to live.
The most recent to pass, on December 29th, was Don Condee, Sr. who first came to Marco Island from Illinois in 1964, saw the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new and exciting community and through many years of toil and business savvy, was able to build up what is Marco’s oldest and longest family business, over 40 years in existence – Condee Cooling and Electric, Inc. As many Islanders who have founded businesses can tell you, it is no small task to build a strong and healthy business from nothing, but also to dominate your field and be able to blend family members into key company positions while continually keeping the business focused and evolving. Anyone who sees the numerous Condee trucks around the Island with their slogan “The Condee Man Can” knows that Don exceeded his goals.
Tom Owens passed away on November 23rd and set an example for those of us who made our fortune elsewhereand came to Marco to retire. Instead of golfing or fishing, Tom devoted himself and his energy to making the Island a better place to live, using his free time in countless hours with the YMCA, the San Marco Catholic Church, Marco Police Foundation, The Charter Middle School and Rotary – volunteering for fundraising and providing his leadership, financial and management skills. Not one to sit on the sidelines and toss criticism, Tom could always be counted on to be deeply involved and be a positive force for change.
On November 14 Leonard Llewellyn passed away. Again we reflect on a business leader who saw incredible opportunities in the 1970s and 80s with a new community of Marco Island coming out of the ground and the void created by the financial and legal problems of The Deltona Corporation. Leonard created Marco Beach Realty at that time, by far the largest most powerful marketing company on the Island, and positioned himself in the epicenter of a boom time of numerous condominium projects, land acquisitions, and development activity. His ability to communicate his enthusiasm for the Island and sell customers on our lifestyle and paradise has never been exceeded. Leonard, also, was very much into Marco history and its preservation.
On August 1st we saw the passing of Mike Minozzi who, like Tom Owens, chose to not simply spend his well deserved retirement years focused on Marco’s pleasures but, instead, spent eight years on Marco’s City Council taking the weekly volley of disgruntled citizens for Council decisions. Those ofus who have attended Council meetings lasting until the late hours, only got a glimpse of the time spent by Mike, who was extremely conscientious in reading through the large packets of information, meeting with City staff and others involved in each agenda item. No matter what the issue of the day, Mike could be counted on to have done his research, have a well reasoned approach, be kind and respectful to all sides, and to be steadfast, focused and clear in staying with his principles. Many decisions of which he was a part, are now part of the fabric of the Island and are taken for granted like parks, police protection, etc., but the one that we see rising daily, and will be finished soon, is the second span of the Marco Bridge.
Bill Rose came to Marco for the first time in 1956, fell in love with the Island and continued to invest here for many years. His philanthropy is what he will be known for, major gifts like $750,000 for the Rose History Auditorium at the Museum, $500,000 for Rose Hall at the Library, but also countless smaller donations over the years to civic and charity groups of cruises on his boat, the Rambling Rose, use of his property on Keewaydin Island, etc. It was his idea to have built and brought down to Marco a stern paddle boat – the Rosie O’Shea – which was an institution for years on the Island, as well as his over-the-top birthday parties with aerialflying down the Marco River, circus performers in a big top, themed safari with camels, all of which set a style and tone that will never be equaled. Like Don Condee, Bill was able to build a strong family business for his future generations which includes one of Marco’s key assets, Rose’s Marco River Marina. Bill was bigger than life and we are fortunate he left his mark on our island before his death on April 9th.
There were many other prominent citizens who passed away in 2010 and devoted time and energy, like John Pistor (August 28th) – County Commissioner and a public advocate for Marco long before Cityhood, Harry Cowin (January 8th) instrumental in Cityhood who served on the City’s first City Council, Kappy Kirk (October 16th) Tommie Barfield’s niece, early Marco pioneer, and the long term Postmistress in Goodland, but the single factor that ties all of these Islanders together was their deep love of Marco Island and their open willingness and unselfish devotion of time, money and efforts to making it a better place. The Island we know today and take for granted was, in many ways, a result of their vision and efforts. I hope we can take a moment to pause and remember them and reach out to thank their families for the passion their loved ones felt for this Island as well as for their many accomplishments.
Craig Woodward moved to Marco Island in 1968 and has practiced law in Collier County since 1980. Craig is the President of the Marco Island Historical Society.