Former Monroe County Commissioner Mary Kay Reich passed away Tuesday evening in Palm Beach County.

Reich arrived in the Florida Keys in 1954, and long-time friend Karen Wilkinson called her one of the area’s pioneers.

“She was down here when you had to drive all the way to Homestead to do your banking,” Wilkinson recounted. “She would collect all the fishermen’s money and drive it up there.”

Reich served on the county commission from 1992 to 2000. She was a vocal advocate for elderly residents and the youth of the community. Wilkinson called her a “straight shooter” adding that Reich was a firm believer in conservative fiscal policies.

Her tenure on the county commission was marked by her work as a fiscal watchdog. Joe Bell, author of The Oracle, often referred to her as “Madame No” as she was often the lone dissenting vote to spend more taxpayer dollars across the county.

Former Marathon Mayor and Councilman John Bartus said Reich was truly a friend to the city of Marathon after its incorporation.

“She was a person of principle who always remembered why she was in elected office – to put the people’s needs above her own personal political agenda,” Bartus said.

Reich and her husband, Richard, owned and operated a charter boat business until 1978. She also owned Anchor Isle Realty in Islamorada until 1987.

The mother of nine children, Wilkinson said Reich was also a regular vocal proponent and advocate for the youth of Monroe County.

Reich was actively involved with the Florida Keys Association of Realtors, Veterans Council of Monroe County, Vets Council,  Monroe County Council on Aging, Planning Commission, Domestic Abuse Shelter, and Healthy Start Coalition. She was also the first female exalted ruler of the Marathon Elks Club.

Reich passed away Tuesday evening after she reportedly went into respiratory failure and lapsed into a coma following a routine orthopedic surgery procedure.

A memorial service for Mary Key Reich will be held on Saturday, Nov. 28 at San Pablo Catholic Church in Marathon followed by a reception at the Marathon Elks.Mary Kay reich


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