On Wednesday evening, April 22, the main room of the Crowninshield Community House was packed with friends and family of Mark Shevitski, an island friend who played a vital role in Boca Grande’s history. While many spoke of how Mark’s departure is such a loss, one man never got a chance to speak. The following is a tribute to Mark Shevitski that came to us after his memorial service.
My friend Mark Shevitski, his landscape company employees and I worked together with Misty Nichols for many years to help the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association (GICIA) conduct ecological restoration and landscape improvements on GICIA Land Conservancy sites. This work involved the removal of exotic pest plants and installation of high diversity of plants that are native to the island. Together, we did some very rewarding work that I am very proud of and I know he was, too. We all learned together how to do make these projects better.
To celebrate Mark’s life on Earth Day is very appropriate.
On one island planting project, our group of eight or so workers were lying out and installing native plants on a project. It was hot and hard work. When it got near to noon, I noticed that Mark had gone to his truck and had setup a table, a heavy duty propane stove and was heating cooking oil. Not long after that, he announced it was lunchtime.
All of us working got the treat of fresh caught, fried mullet filets and side dishes for lunch. It was prepared to perfection. It was not expected or discussed, it was a total delightful surprise. After working very hard, to rest in the shade and enjoy that fresh fish lunch was a simple treat we all loved. Mark, always being modest, had a big smile on his face as he said the lunch was nothing, and he was just glad we enjoyed it.
To me this event represented Mark Shevitski. He was always willing to help others, give and be generous. He took pride in his work on the island and for the island association. He was creative with solutions and always willing to make things happen, no matter what the task.
I counted on Mark to be there and he was. We worked hard together, but we had lots of laughs and enjoyment, too.
I will miss his jokes, his smile and partnership on projects … more than words can express. I will never eat a mullet without thinking about that fish he fried that day. He is serving mullet in heaven now.
Thank you Mark Shevitski.
– Rick Joyce