Every death is tragic in its way and sad for someone. But here are some passings that were particularly painful in a particularly painful year.
Pascal Weisberger, of Islamorada, passed away on May 7, 2020 at the age of 14.
A student at Treasure Village Montessori, Pascal excelled in his characteristically modest, soft-spoken way. In a year, he overcame a fear of putting his face in the water, and became “a little fish,” said Arie Poholek, Pascal’s dad. Weisberger took up running and proudly represented his school in the Special Olympics. He rose through the ranks in both the Boy Scouts and tae kwon do, putting in dedicated time and effort in both beloved activities. When he passed, Weisberger was on the cusp of earning his Eagle Scout rank and his black belt.
“Pascal always amazed me so much. I was proud of him all the time,” said Poholek.
John S. Ely of North Brunswick, New Jersey and Marathon, Florida passed away on July 17, 2020 at the age of 79. John is survived by his loving wife, Maria Arvelo Ely, of Marathon.
John started out owning a cabinet shop and then began to design and build homes in the New Jersey area as well as purchase real estate for investments.
In the late ’80s, on a vacation, he instantly fell in love with the pristine aqua water and low-key Keys lifestyle. Within a month, he purchased a home for his family and then began to purchase additional real estate in the Marathon and Key Colony Beach areas to build homes. In the late ’90s, he decided to try his hand as a restaurateur, which was a completely new venture for him. He started the Florida Keys Steak & Lobster House in Marathon, which continues to operate.
Larry Kahn, former editor of the Keynoter, passed away on July 18, 2020.
Kahn was born on Sept. 26, 1963 in Smithtown, New York to Charlotte and Arnold Kahn who have predeceased him.
He moved to Marathon in the early ’90s and worked his way up the ranks at the Keynoter to become editor. He left the paper in 2018 to become the public information officer for State Attorney Dennis Ward.
“His family was down there; he had so many friends,” said his sister, Deborah.
Paul Worthington looked the way a hard-living and accomplished sailor should, and he had the requisite seafaring cred to back up any stories told around a bar. And there were plenty of those.
Worthington, who held the title of Minister of Piracy in the Conch Republic Navy, died Aug. 23, taking many people by surprise. He was 72.
Known in Key West as co-owner of the legendary Schooner Wharf Bar with his wife, Evalena, Worthington had already lived a full life on the water in his native New England before arriving in the Florida Keys in the mid-’80s. He and Evalena started Schooner Wharf Bar aboard an old schooner docked in Key West Harbor before expanding and moving into its familiar space at the foot of William Street.
“Paul was the love of my life, my guiding light, my greatest supporter, collaborator, cheerleader and my best friend,” his wife Evalena said upon his passing. “He and his spirit will be with me forever. There was nothing too crazy for us to pursue, and the two of us did it all together, from beginning to end.”
Jerry Greenberg passed away in Key Largo on Sept. 1, 2020 at the age of 93. The dive legend from Key Largo changed the game in underwater photography and diving, with the first underwater color photograph cover for National Geographic in 1962. Right to the end, he was still taking pictures and mentoring a select few on the value of hard work, integrity, love of country and protecting our reefs.
Together with his wife, Idaz, they created marine life publications that were scientifically correct, vibrantly beautiful, and were affordable for anyone to buy. He invented the underwater “kiss of flash” and shared his groundbreaking methods in his 1956 book “Underwater Photography Simplified.” When his equipment couldn’t do what he needed, he innovated the parts needed. He captured entire scenes that no one else could. How did he do this? Sometimes Jerry would first devise the story, then previsualize the images it would contain — sketching underwater scenes, complete with cropping and point of view.
Charles “Sonny” McCoy
Charles “Sonny” McCoy was born on Jan. 16, 1928, on Bahama Street in Key West, Florida. He died Sept. 10, 2020.
McCoy and his soulmate, Merili Hilton McCoy, were married for 50 years and together raised six children. McCoy was an U.S. Army-Air Force veteran, flying multiple types of aircraft to numerous destinations around the world. He was a graduate of the University of Florida and traveled from Key West to Gainesville on an Indian motorcycle with a dresser strapped to the back.
He was mayor of Key West from 1971-1981, the first mayor to serve five terms. He saved the town from being taken over by the State of Florida and brought Key West’s economy out of the red and into the black. He later became a commissioner and mayor of Monroe County from 2000-2008 — at Merili’s insistence.
He water-skied to Cuba on Sept. 10, 1978, when he was 50 years old, on one ski in six hours, 10 minutes non-stop. National Geographic printed the story and he was recognized in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. The story went worldwide after it was picked up by the Associated Press.
Ken Davis, father, husband, brother, friend and son, passed away peacefully Sept. 12, 2020 at Baptist Hospital in Miami. He was 64.
His career began in Islamorada 40 years ago. In 1980, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard as a member of Coast Guard Intelligence. For six years, he worked as a special agent conducting criminal investigations while tracking deserters.
In 1986, he was recruited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), beginning his distinguished 22-year career where he earned numerous exceptional performance and service awards from the DEA and other law enforcement agencies.
In 2008, Ken retired from his esteemed career with DEA. Soon after, he was on a plane to Baghdad to work as a private contractor.
He was elected as a member of the village council and vice mayor of Islamorada, a position he has held since 2018. During that time, he strived to always do what he thought was best in order to preserve the village and what made it so special to him and so many others.
On Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, Cheryl Cates, loving wife, mother and grandmother, passed away at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Cheryl was born on Sept. 19, 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida. She moved to Key West at the age of 2. On Sept. 11, 1971, she married the love of her life, Craig Cates. They raised three daughters, Tammy, Nicole and Crystal. They also shared four beautiful grandchildren, Taylor, Riley, Trevor and Andrew. Cheryl owned several businesses in Key West during her lifetime with her husband, Craig, including Cates Automotive and NAPA Auto Parts. Cheryl was also a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Knight Gardner Realty.
Her pride for her family and adoration for her husband were evident to everyone who knew her. She loved live music and was an avid supporter of the local musicians in Key West and was often found singing around town herself. Cheryl was a fierce champion and advocate for those in need on her beloved island. She was involved in many organizations and spearheaded numerous fundraisers for people and causes. She served on the boards for the Wesley House, Samuel’s House and Kids Come First. She cherished her nine years as The First Lady of Key West and used all her influence and connections to make her island home a better place.
Cheryl also shared a passion for the water and boating with her husband Craig. They enjoyed long weekends at Boca Grande together and exploring the Bahamian islands on their boat, Craig’s Girls. She left her mark on many small towns all around the Bahamas.