ANNA MARIA ISLAND – At the celebration of Suzi Fox’s life, local dignitaries, family and friends painted a picture of a dedicated advocate for Island turtles, a fun-loving and funny friend, and a caring mother, sister and grandmother.
Fox, longtime executive director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, died on Sept. 30 after a fall.
More than 150 people attended the event at the Center of Anna Maria Island on Saturday to pay tribute to Fox.
Nanci Banman, Fox’s sister, described Suzi as a force to be reckoned with.
“If you met her, it was like you’ve known her all your life,” Banman said.
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said it was clear that Fox loved the turtles, the seabirds and the community.
“She believed strongly in what she was doing,” he said.
Turtle Watch board member Diane McCausey said Suzi would be humbled by the turnout.
“The board is working hard with the county and the FWC,” McCausey said. “Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch will continue to grow. It won’t be the same, but we will make her proud.”
Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department, worked with Fox since 1992.
“The turtles that were born on this beach will return again and again,” Hunsicker said. “Think of that continuity and the role Suzi played.”
Hunsicker presented an environmental award from the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association to Fox’s sisters, Kendra Fox and Nanci Banman, and her son, Dereck Norfleet.
“Suzi was very well known across the state of Florida,” Norfleet said, describing her as determined and fearless, and issuing a request to her friends and family: “I ask you all today when you see a beautiful sunset, have a delicious a cup of coffee, hear a good Steely Dan song, think about putting ketchup on steak (don’t do it), walk along the beach and see sea turtle tracks of nests, see something the color periwinkle, her favorite, take the path less traveled, that you think of Suzi and smile.”