Profile Beverly Furtado

July 21, 2017
By Marcy Shortuse

■ BY SUE ERWIN
Beverly Furtado was first introduced to Boca Grande 38 years ago, when she was vacationing with her late husband Jack. They were exploring the Florida Keys and the west side of the state.
During their travels they looked at properties in Marco Island in 1979, and they ended up visiting some friends from New Jersey who lived in Cape Coral at the time.
Their friend Buddy wanted to go visit his parents, who were staying at the campground in Boca Grande at the north end of the island.
“I fell in love with the island right away,” Beverly said. “We’re water people – we like boating and fishing, so we thought this would be a great place to live.”
Beverly was amazed at the unique lifestyle people were living at the campground. She said she didn’t even realize there was a town here until months later.
“There was an abundance of oysters and clams, and you could catch all the fish you wanted from the railroad trestle,” she said. “A lady came by every week to sell fresh produce, so we had everything we needed.”
They returned to their home in Massachusetts with plans of surely coming back.
During the drive home, they noticed a camper and truck that was for sale in a field, and they asked Buddy to check it out.
“He said it was in great condition and everything worked, and we asked him to secure it for us. We flew down the next week to get it.”
They brought it back up north and built a platform and used it as a guest bedroom during the summer months. Then they camped in Boca Grande the next winter.
Bev said there was nothing where the homes are now in Boca Grande North, just a sand dune that led to the Gulf of Mexico. There were a few condos in existence, with more planned to be added soon.
“We were having the most wonderful time of our lives – the people were great, and it was a beautiful, affordable place to stay. Then we were told we couldn’t come back the next year because the property was being sold.”
Bev recalls the people were so disappointed. They had been coming to the island for years and now had no place to go.
One day Bev and Jack rode their bikes to town, and they were surprised to find Hudson’s, Fugates, The Temptation Restaurant and a post office.
So they ended up going into the Temp for a drink and talking with some of the locals.
Bev and Jack spent many evenings at Whidden’s, where she would play Pac-Man and he would play pool.
After speaking with some of the locals, they found out that someone in town owned a small apartment complex and was looking to sell it.
Jack immediately requested to speak with the owners, Jack and Mabel Oller.
They met at Loons On A Limb to talk, and the Ollers said they had potential buyers in Chicago who were interested in the property.
Bev wrote down their names and phone number on a napkin and left it with the Ollers in case the other buyers fell through.
Six weeks later the phone rang. After a quick discussion and phone calls to lawyers, they had purchased an apartment complex known as The Palmetto Inn.
Bev said that at the time, the building was comparable to the town: a desolate, unpainted village with weathered structures, an old railway and very little life.
“I loved how peaceful the island was – it was just paradise,” she said.
For the next several years, Bev and Jack worked hard making additions and improvements to the Palmetto Inn.
They lived in one apartment and rented out the other seven.
Bev and Jack previously worked for an apartment complex in Massachusetts, where they did painting and maintenance and learned how to do home repairs.
“We did anything and everything that came along to make a buck,” she said. “If you want something bad enough, sometimes you gotta work for it.”
Palmetto Inn patrons became very familiar with Dixie, a talking parrot that Bev owned for years.
“You had to be careful what you said, she knew some very foul language … She was a fun bird,” Bev remembered.
Bev painted the wall that runs along the Inn property that houses a handful of businesses just off 4th Street. Using books that featured pictures of ocean reefs, she started in 1995 using a light turquoise background and worked her way to fill the wall with different colorful species of fish, sea turtles and other marine life. She named it “Tranquilo,” after a tour boat she had once been on.
“I did it out of necessity,” she said with a laugh. “I needed to look at something different than just a stone wall.”
Bev said Jack was always thinking about business opportunities and how he could serve people as well as make some extra cash.
In 1989, Bev and Jack opened Island Limousine to offer transportation for guests who visited each winter but didn’t want to bring their vehicles.
“Jack was the kind of person who was always looking for something to do .. and he was a very likeable, friendly man.”
They purchased three cars. Jack and Bev each drove one and Artie Brooks drove the other, so with the three of them they had the business covered.
Beverly started dating Jack when she was 16 years old. She knew him from the neighborhood, and he asked her to go for a ride on his motorcycle. One day while she was on the back of the bike, Jack handed her a box with a ring and proposed to her.
“I thought I was going to drop it because he was still driving,” she said.
After getting permission from her father, they were married on a beautiful spring day a year later.
Bev met her partner, Len Tatko, in 2001 at the Gasparilla Marina docks.
“I had recently lost my husband, and I decided to sell my boat because it was too much for me to handle,” she said. “And Len was at the dock next to me, scrubbing his boat. He said he had recently lost his wife.”
Len lived in Venice at that time. One day Bev gave Len a tour of Boca Grande. They had lunch, and their story continues to grow from there.
Bev and Len are currently in the process of packing up The Palmetto Inn, and they’ll be moving to their new home in Cape Haze in August.
Bev’s hobbies include crocheting and being crafty. She and Len used to do quite a bit of boating and fishing, but they sold the boat when they realized they weren’t using it much these days.
Beverly has one son, David, a grandson, Jeremy, and three great-grandsons, the oldest of whom recently graduated from high school in Massachusetts.
David and his wife currently live in Mississippi on ten acres of land where they raises goats, chickens, dogs and cats.
Bev has a younger brother in Plymouth, Mass. but hasn’t had a chance to visit him in almost five years. Hopefully, with more free time on her hands now, she’ll be able to travel and visit family more often.
Bev said she doesn’t really have a favorite book, but she thoroughly enjoys reading articles about UFOs.
“I am a firm believer that there is something going on out there and a higher intelligence exists. I’ve read many things about it,” she said, noting that she’s had a couple of personal experiences including one while she was sitting on the porch at The Palmetto Inn.
When asked who she admires most in life, Bev said she couldn’t pick just one person.
“All of my family and friends have played a very important part in my life, and I am very thankful for each and every one of them.”
Bev and Len both have many friends here, and they plan to come back and visit the island regularly to have lunch and attend events at the Boca Grande Community Center.
“We’ll be back for the shows and the plays and other events,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to enjoy the beaches whenever I want and leisurely time with family and friends.”