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.”

PROFILE: Sharon Yonker

Born and raised in Connecticut, later moving to Berwyn, Pennsylvania with her husband Dan, Sharon learned how to play tennis at the local YMCA, where she taught aerobics classes. “I started playing tennis when I was 27. I worked at the local YMCA, so I got free babysitting for my children. They came with me because they were zero and two years old at the time. I also got free classes, so I got to take tennis. I had never picked up a racket, but I thought it would be kind of fun. I fell in love with the game.” Sharon met her husband, Dan, at Denison University in Ohio. After graduation, they traveled through Europe. “When we came back, we said whoever gets a job first, the other will move to that area. Dan found a job in Berwyn, so I moved here, and we’ve been there ever since. “My son Charlie works for a catering company in Orlando, and he loves it,” she said. “My daughter Laine works in Manhattan, but due to the pandemic, she decided to stop paying rent because she could never go to her job. Now she’s a nomad, spending a few weeks in Boston and here in Boca Grande. She says that it’s been the best thing ever for her. She was paying so much money in rent, and now she can live anywhere.”

PROFILE: Kim Newlin

When we first met Kim Newlin back in 2005, she was a wife, a mother of two young children, and a new business owner of Newlin’s Mainely Gourmet. Today, she and Frank are happy and “Newlin’s,” as the islanders fondly call her business, is going strong, and her children are in college. “When we opened, my daughter was at The Island School. I remember looking at Tallulah walking across the street to school, and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m a little bored.’ I was only going to do this business for two years.”

PROFILE: Dr. Bret Kueber

Dr. Bret Kueber always knew that he wanted to semi-retire in Florida; he just didn’t think it would happen this soon. It seems as though while he was waiting for his daughter Katie to finish high school, Boca Grande was suddenly thrust in his path. “We found this place and, wow! It’s perfect.” he said. “I didn’t want anything too touristy and I was looking for something more low-key, more old Florida style. I love to boat, my son David loves to fish and Katie likes being out on the boat. I love being on the water. That’s my happy place.”

PROFILE: Jane Geniesse

Somewhere in the world, there is a photo of a group of laughing diners in a restaurant in Paris, posing with the great Dame Judi Dench. Or so they think. It all came about because Jane Geniesse was being a proper grandmother to her middle grandson, who was attending the American University of Paris. “I went to Paris to see my grandson, which all good grandmothers should do, of course. I met all of his friends and we had an absolutely glorious time. They wanted to eat steak every night.”

PROFILE: Hazel Singletary Presley

When most of us stroll the streets of Boca Grande, we see Fugate’s, golf carts and Hudson’s Grocery. Hazel Singletary sees history.Hazel is a walking, talking Boca Grande history guide, and for good reason. Her family first stepped foot on the island in the 1920s. “You know where Newlin’s is now?” asked Hazel as she […]