FISH hosts annual meeting, elects board members, officers

by Robert Anderson

Parrish resident Alex Garner speaks to FISH members April 17 before being elected to serve on the nonprofit board of directors. Islander Photos: Robert Anderson

Cindy Rodgers talks about her connection to the village of Cortez April 17, during a FISH meeting at Fishermen’s Hall.

Two new faces joined the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board of directors in Cortez.

FISH members elected Cortez resident Cindy Rodgers and Parrish resident Alex Garner to the board of directors April 17, during their annual meeting at Fishermen’s Hall in the village.

Rodgers, who also serves as president of the Cortez Village Historical Society, will succeed Kaye Bell, who stepped down from the board.

“I love Cortez,” Rodgers said. “It is thoroughly in my blood. I love this community. It’s a very special place.”

Both newcomers to FISH have family histories tied to the village.

Garner’s father, Allen Garner, was FISH president for many years and owned Star Fish Co. fish house before selling the business to Karen Bell.

Alex Garner will fill the seat held by Karen Carpenter, who moved from the area in February.

Three incumbent board members — David Cadmus, Tim Caniff and Steve Baker— were reelected without opposition.

All five will serve three-year terms.

The 12-member FISH board includes Bell, Angela Collins, Kim McVey, Nathan Meschelle, Lance Plowman, Pat Potts and Jane von Hahmann.

Members also elected FISH officers: Kim McVey is president; David Cadmus, vice president; and Jane von Hahmann, treasurer.

About FISH

FISH is a volunteer organization that manages several properties in Cortez, including a 98-acre preserve, a boat shop, Fishermen’s Hall and the old Cortez fire station. The nonprofit, formed in 1991, is dedicated to the promotion, education and preservation of commercial fishing and other traditional maritime cultures.

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Carl “Trigger” Mora

Carl Daniel “Trigger” Mora passed away on March 17, 2023 with his loving wife and family by his side. Born and raised in the Cortez Fishing Village, Trigger was a fourth generation Commercial Fisherman who followed in his father’s footsteps.

He graduated from Manatee High School Class of 1962, Bradenton, Florida. He worked at Smiths Radiator shop in Bradenton for several years until the sea called

Him back. Trigger also owned the Shell Station on Cortez Rd. but once again the sea called Him back. As he continued Commercial Fishing, he decided to start his business Cortez Boat and Davit. Trigger was a skilled, clever, versatile, hardworking man who could Build, fix or design anything.

He was considered “A one of a kind man”, met no stranger and would help someone in need. Trigger leaves behind many wonderful stories and memories. Trigger was predeceased by his mother Elsie S. Mora, father Daniel C. Mora and his son, Walter Daniel “Danny” Mora.

Trigger is survived by his wife, Jennifer; stepdaughter, Jackie Medvitz; son, Carl “Shayne” Mora (Rosemary); granddaughters; Savannah Mora; Kara Lou Mora, grandsons, Cameron “Scout” Mora and Liam Mora. son, Quinn Mora; granddaughters, Coral Mora, Danika Mora and Kessie Mora.sisters, Kay Lundy and Rita Jordan; many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews and lifelong best friend and cousin Wally Lewis along with a multitude of family and friends.

Visitation will be Saturday, March 25, 2023, from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. followed by the Service at 10:00 A.M. at Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory, 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West Bradenton, FL 34209. Condolences may be made to:

In lieu of flowers and in honor of Trigger’s name, donations can be made to: F.I.S.H., PO Box 606, Cortez, Fl. 34215-0607.

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John Luther McDonald

Retired Naval Lieutenant Commander John L. McDonald, Jr., also known to many as “Mac”, age 89 of Bradenton, FL, and Cannon Falls, MN, died peacefully at his Cannon Falls home on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

John was born on January 31, 1933 in Cortez, FL, a fishing village, the son of John Sr. and Mamie “Ruth” (Bonnell) McDonald. He graduated from Manatee County High School in Bradenton, FL in 1951, later serving with the US Navy during the Korean and Vietnam wars, retiring after 25 years.

He married Rosalie Wachtler on January 4, 1958 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Mendota, MN.

While living in Florida, he was a founding member of the Manatee County Maritime Museum and the Cortez Cultural Center. A lifelong land and sea conservationist, John converted fields to a tree farm, planting conifer, walnut, and oak trees, planting shade for future generations. He was a life-long learner with sustained interest, curiosity, and the innovative ideas of self and others.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Rosalie “Robin”; children, Kathleen McDonald of Red Wing, Susan McDonald-Conroy (Kevin Conroy) of Trempealeau, WI, Cynthia (Todd) Sutherland of Windsor, CO, and John J. (Amy) McDonald of Wanamingo; 9 grandchildren, Dan, Ellen, and Jen Conroy, Clifton, Eve, and Hugh Sutherland, McKayla, Kiara, and Tyson Johnston; sisters, Jane Treglown of Port Saint Joe, FL and Joyce (Leslie “Sonny”) Davis of Morehead City, NC; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Joseph; and sisters, Jacqueline Mofield and Judith Augsburger.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, May 30 at 10am, with visitation from 9-10am, at St. Pius V Catholic Church, Cannon Falls. Interment with military honors will follow at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at 1:30pm.

In lieu of flowers, gifts to Brighton Hospice, 2010 Jefferson Rd., Suite D, Northfield, MN 55057.

Arrangements by Lundberg Funeral Home, Cannon Falls. Online condolences may be left at

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2023 Festival – Food Vendor Application

Attached is the 2023 Fishing Festival application for Food Vendors.

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2023 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

Attached is the Artist Application for the 2023 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

41st_annual_fishing_festival_artist_application_for _2023.pdf

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Irene Taylor

Mildred Irene Taylor, age 90, passed away on Saturday June 25, 2022 at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton after an extended illness. She was born August 12, 1931 in Cortez, FL to Walton “Tink” and Edith Wilson Fulford.

She graduated from high school in Bradenton, attended college in Florida and Tennessee and was then trained as a medical technologist at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee. She married another Cortez native, Hardy Taylor in 1954 after he returned home from the Korean War.

She and Hardy lived in St. Petersburg, FL where she worked as a medical technologist. They had three children, Darrell Alan, Timothy Leroy and Cynthia Irene. They were long time members of the Northside Church of Christ in St. Petersburg. Irene loved children, her large extended family and always warmly opened her home to all.

She was predeceased by her parents; her husband of 36 years Hardy Leroy Taylor; sons; Darrell and Timothy; brother; Ralph Fulford; and sisters; Mary Fulford Green and Belinda Porterfield.

She is survived by her daughter; Cynthia Irene Taylor; three grandchildren; Kailey Nicole Taylor, Brandon Cole Taylor and Carson Taylor; Sister; Ann Dean Riddick of Searcy, AR; brothers; Wayne (Betty) Fulford of Stanley, NC and Gary Fulford of Bradenton; and many nieces and nephews.

There will be no local services. Burial will be at Skyway Memorial Cemetery in Palmetto.

Memorial donations may be made to St Jude Children’s Hospital, Memorial Giving 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105. 

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Mary Fulford Green

19FB86F3-179E-4F92-ACBF-7DC746E53624 Continue reading

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John M. Stevely

John McCullum Stevely, 72, of Bradenton, died May 27.

He died while taking a walk at Robinson Preserve.

He and his beloved wife of 40 years, Dr. Theresa Bert, both marine biologists, had just returned from Cape Canaveral, where they witnessed a rocket launch and landing with their son, John Bert Stevely. A fitting last act for a scientist who treasured the seas and skies.

He was born April 10, 1950, to John Petrie Stevely and Dorothy McCollum Stevely in New York City, where he graduated from Bronx High School of Science. He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in biology from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in marine science from the University of South Florida. He would go on to be selected as a Smithsonian Research Fellow and a member of USF’s Outstanding Alumni.

During his long career as a Marine Extension Agent, he served as a University of Florida Sea Grant scientist and co-authored 15 scientific research publications. Following retirement, he became an agent emeritus.

Among the nearly 20 awards and commendations he received was a Gulf Coast Guardian Award and, in 2015, he was inducted into the Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

He is best known for his passionate efforts to preserve and protect the local environment and fishing industry.

He was a founder of the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival and served on the planning committee since its inception in 1981. He also assisted in the development of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, the establishment of the FISH Preserve in Cortez and in other efforts to restore coastal habitats.

He was an international expert in sponge ecology and sponge fishery management. His accomplishments also include the introduction of the fish venting tool, the development of best management practices for catch and release of deep-water reef fish and the study of the economic impact of artificial reefs and red tides.

Accolades aside, Mr. Stevely would argue his proudest accomplishment was his family. He was a hands-on father who relished taking his wife and son to acclaimed dive spots all over the world. He was a friend to all and his patient and kind demeanor will be missed by everyone who knew him. He would like to thank all his cherished family and friends for being a part of his earthly life.

Visitation will be held 5-8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Brown & Sons Funeral Home, 604 43rd St. W., Bradenton. A service will be at 11 a.m. at Brown & Sons Funeral Home. A short graveside service will immediately follow at Skyway Memorial Gardens. A luncheon and gathering for funeral attendees and other invited guests will be held at 2:15 p.m. at Swordfish Grill in Cortez. Memorial donations may be made to FISH, P.O. Box 606, Cortez, FL 34215. And, please, take time to enjoy and protect the great outdoors.

Mr. Stevely is survived by wife Theresa Bert, son John B., sister, Dorothy Soulé, and her sons, Kenny and David.

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Chester Bell

Chester H. Bell, 89, passed away May 1, 2022 at Manatee Memorial Hospital. He was born October 23, 1932 to Aaron Parx and Jessie (Fulford) Bell in Cortez, Florida.

Chester graduated from Manatee County High School in 1950, and began his life-long career in commercial fishing in Cortez, interrupted by two years of service in the U.S. Army. Afterward, he attended the University of Florida, but soon was called home to work at his family’s A.P Bell Fish Company. He later became a partner in the Capo Fish Company.

In 1957, Chester married Ellen Hay Bell. They had three children, Warren Aaron, II, Louise Bell Shuman and Brooks Jesse. Chester is preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Warren, Walter, Jesse (Buster) and Calvin; his only sister, Betty Alice; his daughter, Louise Shuman and his grandson, Jared.

Surviving are his wife of 65 years, Ellen; his brother, Doug Bell; his nieces, Karen and Lisa Bell as well as his son, Warren and wife, Deb Gamsky Bell; son, Brooks and wife, Sheri Benghiat Bell; his grandchildren, Lindsey Bell Peacock, Warren Aaron Bell III (Beau), Haley Rose Bell and step-granddaughter, Jaclyn Benghiat. He has four great grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5-7 PM, Friday, May 6, 2022 at Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34209. Burial will be 10AM, Saturday, May 7 at Manasota Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, PO Box 280, Bradenton, FL 34206 or the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH), PO Box 606, Cortez, FL 34215. Condolences may be made to

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(If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 941-301-4000)

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