Community History


IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Some of the most legendary captains in Boca Grande Pass

It is fitting that we pay tribute to historical guides as a celebration of their lives in the context of the fishing heritage of Boca Grande. Cappy Joiner, president of the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association, has provided a list of representative historical guides. We admire their unique skills, impressive fortitude and commitment to fishing in the menace of increasing competition and an adversely impacted environment. As Captain Joiner points out, they must master boating and navigation skills, possess specialized knowledge of the weather, the environment, fish identification and their individual peculiarities, likes and dislikes, be able to read the water by the swim patterns on the surface, know about tackle and about seasonal behavior and natural habitats of the fish. Thoughts on guiding by contemporary guides follow.

World’s Richest 2022 honors Capts. Tater Spinks, Cappy Joiner

The Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament honored two more iconic figures in Boca Grande’s fishing history during the Grande Tradition ceremony at the Captain’s Party on Tuesday May 17. Many captains, anglers, community members and tournament officials got up to share their fond memories, retell jokes and recall treasured stories of Capt. John “Tater” Spinks and Capt. Cappy Joiner.


Historical Society elects six new board members at annual meeting

Board President Pam Heilman reported on the success of the 2021-2022 season’s events and thanked the sponsors, including Arcadia Publishing, Bank of America Private Bank, Fergeson Skipper Law Firm, Florida Humanities Council and the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, Hazeltine Nurseries, Italiano Insurance Services, Shively Charitable Foundation as well as Ron and Betsy Drake, Pam and Bob Heilman, Nancy and Martin Lyons, Marty and Gina McFadden, Whitney Ransome and Tom Wilcox. She thanked the Boca Grande Woman’s Club for its grant to purchase the archival display case that preserves the 100-year-old originating documents of Boca Grande at the History Center. She also introduced the Society’s staff – Executive Director Crystal Diff and Administrative Director Kimberly Kyle – and announced that the organization has grown to more than 450 members.  

Historic Preservation Board discusses Journey’s End and possibility of rezoning downtown for multi-use

In other meeting news, board member Becky Paterson asked if it would be all right with the board if she worked with Anthony Rodriguez, the community development manager, to work with her regarding a potential plan for the downtown historic district to have its own special zoning. Paterson said she was concerned about affordable housing needs in town and thought a mixed-use zoning change would be beneficial to many. “I own a contributing commercial building in the district, and there are lots of us who would love to be able to put a second story on and create a mixed use for housing,” she said. “Affordable housing has become an urgent issue here. Almost everyone who works here is commuting, sometimes 20 or 30 minutes to get home. We have lots of examples in contributing and noncontributing that were permitted when it was allowable.”

Catastrophes, accidents and calamaties featured in latest BGHS exhibit

This public exhibit showcased three major hurricanes – unnamed hurricane of 1926, Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Charley in 2004 which caused major damage to the island. It also featured the explosion of the Arthur Albright, a phosphate carrier that blew up at the Port of Boca Grande in 1965 (due to a faulty valve resulting in over pressurization of the fuel tank). Eight men were hospitalized with extensive injuries.

Shake a tree and a Futch will fall out on March 22

BY KAREN GRACE AND THE BOCA GRANDE HISTORY CENTER On Tuesday, March 22, David Futch will return to Boca Grande to speak at the last Historical Society lecture of the season and launch his recently published book, “Historic Tales of Gasparilla Island.” In a recent email, David wrote that “Gasparilla Island’s only town of Boca […]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A Maritime Exposition Honoring the Whidden Sisters’ Legacy

On Saturday, March 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. the board of the Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum will host a “Maritime Exposition Honoring the Whidden Sisters’ Legacy” at the museum and marina. Events will include music, food, local art for sale and more. “The GIMM Board of Directors has changed, and has hit the ground running,” said Board Member (and family member) Kacy Cheske. “As a board, we have been making a lot of positive changes. We wanted to have an event to share the Museum with the community new changes and existing features.”

Saying goodbye to two decades of art and love … HUGHES GALLERY PREPARES TO CLOSE AFTER 20 YEARS 

Hughes Art Gallery, located in the big wooden “Bike n Beach” building on Park Avenue will be closed this summer, as the owner of the building has another use for the space she is in. While Barb is holding out hope against hope she might find another location, the option doesn’t exist right now … at least not one that she’s aware of.

‘Dahling, there’s nothing in life that a little champagne can’t cure’

Eleanor Aherne was the wife of the stage and movie actor, Brian Aherne. Kelli remembers movie posters from Brian’s movies on the walls of the house and a sign on one of the bedroom doors that said “We don’t rent to thespians,” proving that Brian like Eleanor had a sense of humor. Kelli has also seen a photo of the couple in bed where Eleanor has a lampshade on her head. While Brian died before Kelli met Eleanor, she has heard that he was very British and formal but that the couple held hands as they walked in Boca Grande.