Unless you were there, you probably never will know. Bob knows, though, and the short amount of time he spent there was life-changing. He has been able to capture more of what the “Studio” feeling was really about than most, quite possibly because he is more of an observer than a “doer.” His unassuming presence and quiet demeanor belie the party animal that hides beneath the surface, it seems.

PROFILE: Deputy Nicholas Garber

Garber has been in Boca Grande just a couple of months but is already fully enmeshed in the island vibe. Some of that just comes naturally to him, and some is because he had served on Captiva Island for a considerable time before being assigned here. This experience has made him a perfect fit for the job in Boca Grande.


Gina Thomsen has a passion for life…the life of every creature she encounters. Thomsen is sometimes known as “the bird lady,” but she is really the “every living creature” lady. If you want evidence of that, go swimming or paddleboarding with her in the Gulf sometime. The dolphins and manatees know her board and honor her presence by seeking her out. She is known by some as the dolphin and manatee whisperer.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Pastor Matthew Williams

It was 10:30 p.m. and the end of a long day of moving for Matthew Williams, the new pastor at the Lighthouse United Methodist Church of Boca Grande. He was grimy and exhausted. He sat on the steps leading to the church office, contemplating the new life he and his young wife, Joy, were facing. Would this be the paradise it seemed when they crossed the bridge onto Gasparilla Island for the first time weeks earlier? Or something else? 

PROFILE: Jorge Matos

The municipality of Sabana Grande is located in the western coastal valleys of Puerto Rico some 1,144 miles from Boca Grande. This small town is surrounded by public forest land and packed with history and architectural gems. It has been nicknamed the Town of Petateros in honor of the multigenerational artisans who make petate, a mat woven from a specific type of palm leaf. The most famous petate weaver of the town is Doña Monserrate Montalvo, but its most famous chef is perhaps Jorge Matos. 

PROFILE: Betsy Fugate Joiner

To put the timeline into perspective, by the time Betsy’s father built their home in 1940, their family had been on the island for 32 years. “When the train moved to Boca Grande, my grandfather, Jerome, Sr., was offered a job and eventually opened up his own business, Fugate’s Drug Store,” she said. Fugate’s opened in 1916, in the same building where it operates today. A few years earlier, Jerome married Betsy’s grandmother in 1911 and in 1912, Betsy’s father was born on Banyan Street. “My grandfather Jerome passed away in 1955, when I was pretty young, but he was a big fisherman. He was involved with the very beginning days with the tarpon fishing,” Betsy said. When he passed away, Betsy’s uncle took over the family business.

PROFILE: Kacy Joiner Cheske

“That lifestyle was my norm and is a family tradition,” she said. “My granddaddy was a lobsterman. He lived down in the Keys, and he would catch crab and lobster, so we had a full supply of that, as well as fresh fish and fresh shrimp from the shrimp boat. I don’t think I’ve ever had a piece of store-bought seafood.”

‘A win for Boca Grande!’ proclaims resident after prestigious placement in Sanibel shell contest

When island resident Sam Hobbs entered one of his shell works of art in the 85th Sanibel Shell Festival in the first weekend of March, he didn’t really think he would walk away a winner. After all, he had never entered a piece before in any contest, much less one as prestigious as the longest-running shell show in the world. But he did … and he won big.

PROFILE: John Lynch

From kayaking each day on Charlotte Harbor with his lovely wife, Debbie, to biking through the streets of Boca Grande, to overseeing the fundraising efforts of A Better Shot at Lemon Bay Golf Club, John Lynch is a man of vision and a man of action. “I’m a bike rider, I’m an exerciser, so I have to keep moving,” John explained. “I enjoy keeping busy. And could you find a better place than Boca Grande to be an outdoorsman?”

PROFILE: Mary Anne Hooker

There’s a familiar quote, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Mary Anne Hooker is one of those busy people who knows how to get things done. “I had a houseguest here last week who I love her to death, but she’s one of those people that likes to put on pajamas and watch a movie. She loves to sit around in her bathrobe in the morning and drink coffee. I don’t even have a bathrobe,” laughed Mary Anne. Mary Anne’s morning routine is active and bathrobe-free. “I get up in the morning. I walk my dogs, and I get busy. I like staying busy. It’s important to me.”