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Joe St. Cyr

Dec 3, 2008

Well-known architect Joseph St. Cyr of Sanibel Island died on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008. He was 79.

Born in Dearborn, Mich. in 1929, Joe knew at an early age that he wanted to be an architect and began working for one at the age of 13. He became the first student given a high school diploma with a major in architecture and the youngest architect ever registered in the state of Michigan. From there, he completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Architecture degrees from The University of Michigan.

Internationally-famed architect Minori Yamasaki, who designed the World Trade Center in New York City, was a jurist for Joe’s final graduation project and was so impressed that he offered him a job, which Joe accepted. From his mentors, Joe learned the importance of comprehensive design and applied this to all his designs, and also to his thinking and attitude.

Architecture has one common denominator — man.

Yet man is constantly in flux.

His cities, his buildings, his total environment should be sensitively created to accommodate his changing needs.

Creative research is our design approach to the future — our concern for the common denominator — man.

– From a booklet produced by

St. Cyr Architect & Associates, Inc.

in the mid-’60s

Joe established his own business, St. Cyr Architect & Associates in Dearborn in 1955. He designed more than 40 Catholic churches, a number of schools and the St. Louis School for Exceptional Boys in Chelsea, Mich. plus numerous office buildings and other landmark projects. In addition to his architectural firm, Joe was an entrepreneur with several businesses, one of which promoted solar and wind energy.

In 1971, while vacationing in Florida, Joe and his wife, Pat, took a drive across the Sanibel Causeway and, in the same process followed by so many others, “and never left.” Within hours of reaching the four-way stop at Periwinkle and Causeway Road, they had purchased a unit at Sanibel Moorings and taken an option on property in Gulf Pines. They became permanent residents 10 years later.

The St.Cyr family became fixtures in the community, and people and businesses on the island learned that, if Joe St. Cyr designed a structure, it would be the best possible. Over the years, Joe designed many private residences on Sanibel and Captiva, along with buildings for the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), The Sanibel Fire Department, a number of businesses and shopping plazas, including Traders restaurant and the Forever Green Ace Hardware Center. He recently designed the new CROW hospital and education center, which are scheduled to open in early 2009. Whenever Joe worked on a project, it was more than a job. He came to know and befriend those he was working with to ensure a sound, comprehensive structure. It was clear to those who knew Joe that he loved what he did and was working toward the very end of his life with his mind and memory razor sharp.

Most importantly, Joe was the kind of person everyone liked and respected. His curiosity and enthusiasm toward life were contagious. He was a great lover of nature and mankind in general and his values were down-to-earth.

Joe is survived by his loving wife and best friend of 56 years, Pat; their son Joe Jr., a sister, Louise, a brother, George, and several nieces and nephews around the country.

A celebration of Joe’s life will be held on the Sanibel Causeway on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009 at 4 p.m. More details will follow.

Joe loved many organizations, but one of his favorites was CROW. His family asks that gifts made to honor Joe’s memory go to benefit CROW at P.O. Box 150, Sanibel, FL 33957 or to SCCF at 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel, FL 33957.