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Bertossa honored for historic contributions to city

By Staff | Oct 12, 2011

Deborah Gleason, right, reads a proclamation honoring longtime Historical Preservation Committee member Harry Bertossa, who recently retired from his post.

During his tenure with the City of Sanibel’s Historical Preservation Committee, longtime resident Harry Bertossa was known for his dedication to preserving and protecting the island’s historic structures as well as his sharp memory in recalling the events of years past.

But when the committee took time last week to honor Bertossa, who recently retired from the nine-member panel, it was his tradition to “suggest” an adjournment at the end of each meeting that might be remembered most.

Deborah Gleason, chairperson of the Historical Preservation Committee, read a proclamation lauding Bertossa’s accomplishments and hard work as a volunteer with the committee, The Hammerheads and the Lions Club of Sanibel and Captiva.

“Harry Bertossa was the right-hand man for Sam Bailey in remembering special historic events and activities on Sanibel,” the proclamation read, in part.

“We’ve missed you,” added Gleason. “I know you’ve been busy with your work with The Hammerheads.”

Bertossa, smiling as he accepted the proclamation, quipped, “I’ll go back to my painting detail… it’s a job nobody likes. When you do something wrong, they put you on painting detail.”

Fellow committee member Roy Gibson, who also thanked Bertossa for his years of service to the citizens of Sanibel, recalled something that his mother used to tell him: “Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful.”

Councilman Marty Harrity added, “You’re on my list of guys who helped make Sanibel what it is.”

Asked which historic project he made contributions towards that he was most proud of, Bertossa paused for a moment before answering.

“I think the Old Bailey Store and the Schoolhouse,” he said. “There are such fascinating things at both of those buildings. When you see them and step inside, you feel like you’re back in the good old days.”

At the end of their Oct. 6 meeting, Gleason again asked Bertossa to do the honors.

“I move that we adjourn!” Harry said, with a wide grin on his face.

“The history of this island is so sacred,” he later added. “I think that it’s important to remember and see how people used to live here.”