Cermak Receives Petro Award
In a surprise tribute to one of our island's most beloved citizens, the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce honored Surf Club owner Bruce Cermak with their highest award - The 'Petro' Award, established last year in memory of Chamber founder D.J. 'Petro' Petrocelli, for Fort Myers Beach residents who 'exemplify what the beach is all about'. The award was given to Cermak at the Chamber's Annual Meeting at Charley's Boat House on Thursday afternoon.
"Last year the Chamber began a program to honor the beach spirit of caring and selflessness,” said Chamber President Bud Nocera. "This is the highest award that this Chamber can give to a citizen on this island.” Chair-Elect David Anderson (Krusty Pete's) then gave the speech that introduced Cermak, who sat at a table with Councilwoman Jo List, Mayor Alan Mandel and Town Manager Terry Stewart, with no idea what was about to happen.
"Today it is a great honor to present the Petro award to one of this beach's most beloved business owners,” Anderson began. "He was one of the founders of the Island Sand Paper. He opened his first establishment (Surf Club) in 1997, and it quickly became the favorite place of many beach residents. 12 years later, he moved locations and it remained a beloved beach hangout. It is beloved, not because of the décor or the food, although both are great. It is beloved because the man who owns it is beloved. He is a regular contributor to island charitable events. He never waivers in giving a helping hand up to someone on the island who needs one. He is the Secret Santa to many. He is loved on this beach and richly deserves to be recognized for his caring and generosity - ladies and gentlemen, the unanimous choice for this year's Petro Award is Bruce Cermak.”
An obviously surprised Bruce then accepted the award, saying in an emotional voice, "This is an honor and I will treasure this always.”
Another emotional moment came when outgoing Chair Norma Jean Pevey announced that she was not only leaving the Chamber Board of Directors, but also the island itself to go follow her lifelong dream of sailing around the Caribbean with her beloved husband, Bill.
"This has meant so much to me, but I'm leaving you in good hands,” she said, praising her fellow board members and Nocera. "So much has changed since I first got here and it's all for the better. Just remember that change is good and don't be afraid of it!”
Pevey concluded her speech by saying, "I literally will be sailing off into the sunset with the love of my life.”
New Chamber Chairman John Gavin (Gavin's ACE Hardware) concluded the meeting by encouraging members to get more involved, volunteer and join committees. Robb Capps (Premier Florida Realty) is the new Vice-Chair.
"This Chamber is really like an extended family,” he said. "Come get involved, and you will find that. I couldn't be prouder to be a member of this community and to have been put in this position.”
Keri Hendry Weeg
New Board Members for 2014:
Bob Layfield of the Island Sand Paper
Fran Podraza of CF Services
Recognized for Their Service:
Retiring Board members: John Armistead of Lee Memorial Health System and Eric Tibbs of Edward Jones
Ambassadors - Terry Luster of Kiwanis FM Gateway to the Islands
Past-Chair - Ann Alsop, Associate Member
Traffic - Tom Myers
Mini Masters Golf - Deborah Regnone of Event Sports
Taste of the Beach - Steve D'Angelis of Nervous Nellie’s
Business Expo - Terry Luster
Tapa Hop and Christmas Boat Parade - Robb Capps of Premier Florida Reality
Ambassador of the Year - Sandra Lepley of Century 21 TriPower
Volunteers of the Year - Robb Capps and Terry Luster
Member of the Year - John Richard of Shipwreck
2013 Chairman of the Board - Norma Jean Pevey