A former Eli Lilly chemist who decoded messages revealing Japan’s plans to attack Pearl Harbor, the late W. Brooks Fortune was a part-time resident of Bonita Springs who first became involved with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in 1994. After members of the Fortune family took a boat tour of Rookery Bay in 2000, the Foundation donated $60,000 so the Conservancy could purchase a new boat for its tours. In recognition of the Fortune family’s gift, the Conservancy named the boat, the Good Fortune, honoring the Fortune family’s love and commitment to bringing guests to the beauty of Rookery Bay.
“Following his service to the military, my grandfather was involved in pioneering the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine that helped curtail the polio epidemic of the 1950’s, as well as the development of Darvocet pain medication,” said Len Zaiser, IV, grandson of the late W. Brooks Fortune who spoke on behalf of the Fortune family and the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation.“However, despite all of his accomplishments, he was a humble man and very honored toprovide the opportunity for the public to experience the beauty of this fragile environment and to learn how to help protect it for generations to come.”
Over the years, the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation has given more than $170,000 to support environmental education at the Conservancy, as well as the Good Fortune program. Recently, the Conservancy received a three-year, $90,000 grant from the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation to help fund the Good Fortune II.
During the ceremonial christening and launch event, Conservancy of Southwest Florida President and CEO Andrew McElwaine thanked Zaiser, the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation andMagic Under the Mangrove™ committee member Judy Hushon for their continued support of theGood Fortune program.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Fortune family, as well as our ‘Magic Under the Mangroves’ patrons, we are able to continue to offer a unique opportunity for Conservancy members, local residents and visitors to explore Rookery Bay,” said McElwaine.
“The Good Fortune II offers residents and visitors a very intimate and personal way to learn about Southwest Florida’s environment,” said Hushon. “Taking a ride through the mangroves, you might spot a dolphin, manatee or a bobcat. It’s agreat adventure and you really gain an entirely new appreciation for our water, land and wildlife.”
During the ceremonial christening, one of Good Fortune II’s Coast Guard certified boat captains, Meade Sommers, read an “Ode to the Good Fortune” to commemorate the event: “The Good Fortune II is a mighty fine boat, In Rookery Bay, it’s the very best afloat; the passengers love the wide, friendly layout, with plenty of room to move about; the Conservancy loves the new passenger count, which can mean a nice additional dollar amount; the naturalists have more people to tell, of the wonders that hold us all in their spell; the captains love the new controls and power, we can run it with pleasure, hour after hour; The Coast Guard likes that there is less rock, and that in an emergency, we can quickly get back to the dock; so to all who are responsible for this great feat, the Good Fortune captains and crew think you’re really quite neat.”
Following the poem, Coast Guard certified boat captain Jim Pittman poured sparkling cider on the bow of the boat to officially christen the Good Fortune II while Captain Sommers rang a ceremonial bell, signally the close of the ceremony and the vessel’s official launch.
Aboard the Good Fortune II, Coast Guard certified boat captains and a trained guide offer a variety of eco-leisurely cruises through the mangrove-lined channels of Rookery Bay – one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. Assorted wildlife, including hundreds of species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals thrive in this unique environment.
Good Fortune II adventures include private charters and the following daily cruise adventures:
- Early Morning Wildlife Adventure: 8:30-10:30 a.m. daily
- Leisurely Lunch Cruise: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
- Classic Sunset Adventure: call for times
In addition to these regular, daily cruises, special cruise events and private charters are available. To make a reservation or for more information call 239-403-4236.
About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida began in 1964 when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profitgrassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of environmental education, science and research, policy and advocacy and wildlife rehabilitation. The Wildlife RehabilitationClinic treats more than 2,400 injured, sick and orphaned animals each year and releases about half of them back into their native habitats. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Nature Center is located in Naples, Fla. at 1450 Merrihue Dr., off Goodlette-Frank Road at 14th Avenue North. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visitwww.conservancy.org.