Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

History and holiday

Estero Island Historic Society holds annual fundraiser.

December 27, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

As is tradition, everyone made sure to buy a bag of rum balls at the Estero Island Historic Society's annual holiday party and bake sale.

Society members gathered Dec. 16 to catch up and to invite the public to visit the historic cottage and the wealth of knowledge within it.

Much of the island's history isn't set to paper, though: it's within the minds of the historic society's oldest members.

Article Photos

Jo and Mark List and Peter Sheridan played holiday tunes.

Ted Reckwerdt lived on Fort Myers Beach for 64 years, and used to own the only plumbing business out on the island. He used to give tours at the society to show and tell people what the island was like 50 years ago.

The biggest change on the island was the rise of condominiums, Reckwerdt said. He came to the beach in 1949. Then, there were still plenty of part time residents, but they all owned beach cottages. In the 70s, the beach skyline began to change.

"People figured out it was paradise here," he said.

Penny Brown, another long-time islander, agreed with Reckwerdt: condos changed the island.

"There's always been traffic woes," Brown said. "But you used to be able to see out to the Gulf between the cottages."

Brown's second husband, Bob Brodhecker, was once a principal at the Beach School. He was responsible for getting air conditioning for the students, and also for commissioning the patriotic mural during America's 200th birthday in 1976.

She's moved off-island now, but Brown remembers living on the back bay and catching dinner off the dock.

During the holiday party, members also hung a plaque in honor of Pauline Onyx, whom the society awarded the group's first Philanthropy Award. Reckwerdt said Onyx owned a home on Gulf Beach Drive, but often traveled, and then moved near the fire station on Voorhis Drive. She joined the historic society, but only attended a few meetings. At some point she moved away, and then died, but no one on the beach knew that. Then, two or three years later, the historic society began leaving checks from her estate, and Fran Santini and Reckwedt were the only two who knew who Onyx was. The woman had left a sizeable donation to the society in her will.

"We didn't have to do a lot of fundraising in recent years because of her donation," he said. "Before, we were working hand to mouth. Without her, we would be in dire needs."



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web