Named for iconic Marathon families and residents, the Best of Marathon Community Awards began in 2008 and are gestures of gratitude for those who inspire us to do better by our fellow man. They are now a fitting tribute to the Rotary Club’s mission to “unite dedicated people to exchange ideas, build relationships and take action.”
The Marathon Rotary Club’s presence can be felt at the new Rotary Children’s Park, at the 4th of July celebration on Sombrero Beach and other community activities. Its membership consists of business leaders, elected officials, executives and essential and high-ranking personnel in the public and private sectors. The club is currently meeting at the Florida Keys Country Club every Wednesday for lunch. Contact a member to learn more or find the club on Facebook.
PHILANTHROPIST OF THE YEAR: LYNN VOIT
Our Philanthropist of the Year is a woman who tirelessly gives her time, money and talent to so many of Marathon’s most cherished institutions. She is an incredibly gifted artist who, in addition to beautifying many areas in our community with donated art, never shies away from using the sale of her pieces to benefit causes she believes in. She has helped to develop Pigeon Key’s art show, as well as donating both art and funding to rebuild and beautify Fishermen’s Community Hospital. She was instrumental in the rehabilitation of Crane Point’s train car, gardens and Crane House. In early 2022, she established an art exhibition at Marathon Community Theatre, the proceeds of which were donated entirely to furthering the theater’s mission of providing a central hub for arts and entertainment in Marathon. She has donated to countless wide-reaching causes, including many organizations we ourselves don’t even know about. For these reasons, and many more, our 2022 Philanthropist of the Year is Lynn Voit.
ROBIN TANNER PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD: HAMMER RUNYON
This award is presented to the outstanding public servant who continually goes above and beyond. It’s only fitting that our 2022 recipient is the longest-running continuous city employee since Marathon’s incorporation in 1999. A Keys resident since 1995, this gentleman joined the Marathon Public Works Department in 2003 after stints with the Monroe County recycling and parks and beaches departments, eventually serving the city in the fire department and his current post with the Parks and Recreation department. He quickly became known as half of a “Dynamic Duo” with Jamie Faircloth and has long embodied the philosophy of doing anything that needed to be done, regardless of whether it was technically his job. He has an incredible sense of humor, and he has been a constant presence at Marathon’s 4th of July celebration, the Seafood Festival and most other events, not to mention his legendary Christmas decorations at the community park. This year’s Robin Tanner Public Service Award goes to Hammer Runyon.
MOST COMMUNITY-MINDED BUSINESS: MARATHON LUMBER
The owner of our Most Community Minded Business, Dale Baker, is a born-and-raised Marathon resident who opened his business here in 1977 after serving his country with the Army in Vietnam. He has been heavily involved for years with numerous community organizations including the Marathon Jaycees, the Chamber of Commerce, the Masonic Lodge/Shriners, the Elks and the Moose Lodge. In the past year, this business has been instrumental in both the Rotary Park rebuild and Habitat for Humanity, donating thousands of dollars in materials and supplies to ensure that our children have a safe place to play and the hardworking families that form the backbone of our community have a secure and affordable place to live. We know that Marathon Lumber will continue to exemplify community commitment for years to come, and we are proud to recognize 2022’s Most Community Minded Business.
HENRY FLAGLER SETTLER AWARD: KELLY MCKINNON
The Henry Flagler Settler Award is presented to a resident whose vision and determination have made Marathon a better place to live. This year’s recipient grew up in Rochester Hills, Michigan before moving to Key West in 1999 to attend the then-Florida Keys Community College. He would later be recognized as the college’s distinguished alumnus of 2014. He eventually graduated from Wayne State University, focusing on marine science education and history. For the past 15 years, this individual has lived on the island of Pigeon Key, serving as its executive director since 2008. As he tells it, his years on his family farm best prepared him for his early years on the island, but under his leadership, one of the Florida Keys’ richest historical sites has blossomed into a phenomenal historical site, a highly regarded education center, and a wonderful place to spend the day (or night). His accomplishments leading Pigeon Key are too numerous to list here, and his work has not gone unnoticed by the county, which showed its faith in his vision for the island’s future by renewing the Pigeon Key Foundation’s lease early for another 10 years. The 2022 Henry Flagler Settler Award is presented to self-described “amateur beauty pageant judge” Kelly McKinnon.
KAY GRADICK WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD: DENISE PANKOW
Our 2022 Woman of the Year is a hometown girl, arriving in Marathon in 1968 and graduating from Marathon High School in 1974. She would ride her bicycle, a gift from her parents, to school, and continues to ride the same bike in Marathon’s annual 4th of July parade. Of her many accomplishments, the most noteworthy is her involvement in the Seven Mile Bridge Run. She is a charter member of the run, having volunteered for all 42 races while serving as the race director for 26 years. She has been active in the historic Dolphin Scramble, the annual Pride Walk and the Sombrero Beach Run. She has co-chaired the Pigeon Key Art Festival and has been instrumental in countless Seafood Festivals. Denise Pankow’s hand is always in the air when help is needed for a good cause, and for this reason she is our 2022 Kay Gradick Woman of the Year.
MIKE PUTO MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD: RICK RAMSAY
Our 2022 Man of the Year is one of the most visible and involved public officials Monroe County could ever ask for, as he is always a friendly face lending a hand at events from award ceremonies to small local beach cleanups. This man has served for 35 years with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office after graduating from the Florida Keys Institute of Criminal Justice in 1987. Since 2012, he has served as the county’s sheriff, serving our citizens so well that he ran unopposed for the position in 2016 and 2020. In addition to serving for 15 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marathon, the most decorated deputy in the history of MCSO has received 93 commendations of merit across every category bestowed by the office. Today, he leads an office that maintains constant contact with the citizens it serves. Under his leadership, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was one of only 38 agencies to attain the “Triple Crown” status with the National Sheriff’s Association. We are honored to present the 2022 Mike Puto Man of the Year Award to Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
Photos by Barry Gaukel