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Bruce Paid it Forward

August 9, 2016
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the Editor:

Last week there was a Celebration of Life for a very special beach business man and our friend, Bruce Cermak. I wasn't able to attend and I've decided to share with you some of what I knew about the man that others wouldn't know. His generosity is legendary and has been well documented in this newspaper. However, the extent to which it reached is beyond what has been written. His yearly donations of "beverages" to the Pilot Club for example created profits from our fundraisers that enabled our club to donate large print books to the Beach Library and dollars to Habitat for Humanity -- and on and on. That has been written.

I'll add two examples of qualities that only my husband and I know. His love of family was shown when he came to our new home in 2000. We'd bought the house with everything in it, which created five weekends of estate sales. Bruce bought five musical instruments that were the appropriate quality for any school band. He purchased the trumpet, clarinet, guitars and even my high school flute. He told us he planned to ship them to his nieces and nephews in Chicago. How thoughtful he was to give his young loved ones opportunities to explore music and express themselves creatively. That brings a smile.

My last thought defines one aspect of his zest for life. My husband and I owned the Caf du Monde, when Bruce came to the island. He found us right away. We served croissant sandwiches, homemade soups, quiches and desserts. He was by far our most appreciative of patrons. He frequented us and he always ate two or three sandwiches, a slice of quiche or two, a bowl or more of soup of the day and would sample every dessert. We would all laugh with him and just wonder and be bewildered at his appetite. He'd just smile and order something else. In my personal opinion Bruce loved food and I see that as a fabulous ability to enjoy one of the finest pleasures of life!

My husband and Bruce came from nearby small towns outside of Chicago. When Eddie came home from Bruce's special event, he brought the pin with Bruce's picture. It made me sad, but my husband wanted to keep it on his office desk. I thought back over the years and my warm feelings about the man. So, I decided to add this small tribute to him with my happy memories. I feel good about Bruce; because in my personal belief system, he is in Heaven. You see, Bruce Cermak lived a life that "Paid it Forward."

Georgia Shakti-Hill

Fort Myers Beach



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