Upper Keys community remembers captain who lived big and loved hard - A man holding a fish in the water - Naples
Of her son, Jeff Leonia’s mom Teresa has said, “His heart and soul were big, beautiful and bright. He loved the ocean and life itself.” Leonia would text his dad Keith every day, “Just another day at the office!” with a picture of himself clearing the bridge or of the sunrise. STEPHANIE SIROTZKE/Contributed

The Keys lost a model captain and friend when Jeff Leonia passed away on Nov. 18. Leonia was a local legend for his skills on the water and for his big heart. Tony Young, his best friend and coworker, said, “The community lost someone real. There’s a lot of people who come and go through the Keys, but he was one of the ones who was going to come and change our community. And he did, but he had more work to do. I’m gonna try to continue and do that for him.”

A celebration of Leonia’s life was held on Nov. 24 on Marco Island. As the sun set, 400 guests took seashells with Leonia’s initials and birth and passing dates on them and tossed them back into the ocean he loved so much. They served swordfish made to his favorite Tuscan recipe and celebrated his ability to bring people together; even with his passing. In this week’s paper, we remember a great man with a big heart.

Read more on Leonia in tomorrow’s Upper Keys Weekly.

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