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Beach icon, Bruce Cermak, will be missed

July 6, 2016
STAFF REPORT (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Long-time Fort Myers Beach resident, benefactor and businessman Bruce Cermak died Saturday, July 2. He was 62.

During his business years as the owner of the Surf Club, Cermak embodied a "pay it forward" philosophy and he contributed generously to just about every cause since he moved to Fort Myers Beach in 1986.

The Bay Oaks Recreational Campus, Beach Elementary School, Matanzas Pass Preserve, Ostego Bay Foundation, New Church of Southwest Florida, Find A Home Give A Home pet rescue organization and Harry Chapin Food Bank were among the many organizations he supported through donations, gift certificates and fundraising events he put on at his business' two locations over the years before selling in 2014 due to health concerns.

Article Photos

Long-time Fort Myers Beach resident, benefactor and businessman Bruce Cermak died Saturday, July 2. He was 62.

FILE PHOTO

"I've always been raised with the more you give, the more you get," Cermak said when he was told he was named the Fort Myers Beach Observer/Beach Bulletin Humanitarian of the Year for 2012. "The older I get the more I see and feel the meaning of the old hippie karma of the '70s, 'what comes around, goes around.' It feels good to be part of something, have roots and sink your teeth into."

Cermak first came to the island when he was 16 and visited frequently. His half-brother and sister-in-law bought the Surf Club in 1980. He first worked as an employee, then took stock in the establishment, became a partner and then became owner in 1987. He made some changes along the way but always continued to give back to the community he called home, deflecting personal attention by naming groups and people who give time to volunteer and make the island a better place to live.

"If you looked at all the clubs and volunteers of people who give their time on the Beach, it is more than most people realize," he said when named Humanitarian of the Year. "You need to have a good sense of community. It's all a big wheel where everyone contributes how they can to make it all turn."

Cermak was one of those folks who helped spin the island wheel.

From the beginning of his tenure at the Surf Club, and through a relocation and other changes, he found time to do more than 15 years worth of cookout benefits for the Fourth of July fireworks while still contributing annually. He also hosted the judges for the same holiday parade; put on benefits for those who could not pay their hospital bills; and contributed to the yearly Spirit of the Holidays for needy children. He hosted wine dinners for Matanzas Pass Preserve; Kids Can Cook auctions; Putt & Pub Crawl benefits; fish fry events for Ostego Bay Foundation; and the old and always popular pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Testicle Festival that not only served up the golden fried delicacy but also featured chicken bingo and ham and turkey raffles to benefit the food bank.

Cermak served as a director of the Times Square Alliance, was instrumental in bringing the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival to life and was a financial advisor of the former Cardboard Boat Races. If someone was having a benefit or a golf outing on the Beach, they knew they could contact him and he would always give a gift certificate or a prize.

It was for these reasons and more that the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce awarded Cermak its "Petro" Award - the Chamber's highest award that goes to a member of the community "who exemplifies what this Beach is all about" as well as 'the spirit of caring and selflessness" - in January 2014.

A memorial service is being planned for August. Service information will be provided when it becomes available.

 
 

 

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