As preparations are under way for celebrating the city of Marathon’s 10th Year of incorporation, Chris Gratton admits it’s one of the best changes to which he’s born witness as a long time resident of the Florida Keys.
“There are always a lot of naysayers, but without progress, a community would just wither away,” he admitted. As an umpire for Marathon Little League, Chris has witnessed his community mature just like the generation of young athletes he seen graduate from t-ball to college and now that his boy, Josh, is off to college, the businessman and booming voice of MHS football games is building quite a resume of his own.
Though Marathon still maintains a small-town feel, he remembers when there was only one two-lane road from Key Largo to Key West.
“I remember driving over the old 7-Mile Bridge and just holding your breath when a car was coming in the opposite direction,” he reminisced.
That small town feel suited this Air Force brat quite well when he found his way to the Florida Keys from Miami some 25 years ago. Gratton was employed as a project manager for the construction team that built Horace O’Bryant Middle School’s gymnasium.
“I was the single guy on the crew, so I was always the one who had to travel for projects and jobs,” he laughed.
He wouldn’t stay single for long.
While working in Key West, he met the lovely Laura Ramsay. Twenty-three years later, he still says the best place to cool off is out on the boat watching a sunset with his wife and their beagle, Roxy.
After studying Building Construction at the University of Florida, Gratton worked under tops guys for other construction companies for several years. He recounts his proudest professional moment that took place four years ago.
“Having the guts to start my own company was definitely the highlight of my career so far,” Gratton said.
He’s currently presiding over the Florida Keys Contractor’s Association (FKCA) while concurrently running his business, Florida Keys Contracting Services. Next weekend the FKCA will host Marathon’s first Boat Poker Run.
And did we mention that this weekend, he’ll officially be appointed to the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors?
Like many of The Weekly’s neighbors, he quickly affirmed the birth of his only son as one of his proudest personal moments.
“He was the only boy in my family,” he laughed.
After working all through his high school career at Sombrero Country Club, Josh, 18, decided to further his education by studying Golf Course Operations and Management.
The son of an Air Force civil engineer who’s lived in every reach of the earth from Japan to Spain and several of the United States, Gratton’s a rare breed who still greets strangers with a genteel respect.
“It was always ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘No M’am’ in my family, and my son learned the same manners,” he said firmly.
As a child that moved a lot, Gratton said his parents often took the family on outdoor camping adventures. Military families, he explained, are often very close.
“I was in to every sport you could be…football, baseball, golf…my dad was always helping coach,” he remembered.
His future working with his hands seemed to be determined long ago. Gratton landed his first job cutting sod at the age of 13.
For years, Gratton presided over the Marathon Youth Club and followed in his father’s footsteps, coaching Little League sports with his own son. He’s chaired the Parks and Recreation board and for years, and Gratton’s served as a mentor with the county’s Take Stock in Children program.
He’s added another item to his long list of community involvement.
This past weekend in Key West, Gratton attended the first session of Leadership Monroe County as a member of Class XVIII. The first session on tourism offered some interesting insight.
“We took a ride on the conch train and realized how embarrassing it is to look like a tourist,” he laughed heartily.
With his gravelly voice perfectly suited to announce Marathon High School’s home football games, Gratton lamented one of the most unfortunate changes he’s seen in two and half decades in Marathon: “the disappearance of the hole-in-the-wall bars that have gone by the wayside.”
Chris Gratton: a man involved
• President Florida Keys Contractor’s Association
• Leadership Monroe County, Class XVIII
• Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors
• Take Stock in Children mentor
• Chief Umpire for Marathon Youth Club Little League
• Marathon High School Football Announce
• Licensed Pilot
• Chairman of Code Enforcement
• Past Chairman for Marathon Parks & Rec Committee
• Member of: Sombrero Country Club, Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce and Marathon Elks Lodge