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BEST OF BEACH: Goodacre to receive Humanitarian Award

June 17, 2015
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Betty Goodacre's name is synonymous with giving, as she has given her time and tireless effort to the betterment of this community for most of her adult life.

For nearly 60 years, the Windsor, Ontario native has blessed many people with her presence on Fort Myers Beach and San Carlos Island.

For all her efforts within a lifetime of achievements, Goodacre is being honored on Tuesday (June 23) as the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year at the Best of the Beach Awards, presented by the Beach Observer/Beach Bulletin of Breeze Newspapers at South Beach Grille.

Article Photos

Beach resident Betty Goodacre is seen volunteering her time at Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center. She was selected 2015 Humanitarian of the Year and will be honored during a ceremony at South Beach Grille next week.

Unfortunately, Goodacre's recent health issues has her recovering at Page Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Fort Myers, and she is not expected to attend the event unless she is able.

"I am going to make that," she said, looking straight into this reporter's eyes with conviction.

Goodacre has a laundry list of volunteer work and community service in the Beach community that would make anyone's jaw drop in amazement.

To start, in no particular order, Goodacre is a recently retired Beach Fire Commissioner. She served from 1996 to 2015 (on the urging of Beach resident Betty Simpson) and won each election. On a side note, Betty had to gain her U.S. Citizenship prior to running the first time.

Goodacre is also vice president of Ostego Bay Foundation, a 22-year stint so far. She has been involved since the inception of the nonprofit organization and has given waterfront tours for several years.

"I have always been interested in plants, sea life and wildlife," she said. "When we started, we only had a couple of tanks for fish."

The SCI resident also is a member of the San Carlos Island Lighting District board (after being nominated by then-Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah); vice president of the San Carlos Island Redevelopment Corporation (formerly the San Carlos Island Redevelopment Agency); and board member of AMIkids Southwest Florida (formerly known as the Southwest Florida Marine Institute). To show her caring level, she has attended many graduations of the nonprofit organizations' troubled students.

"It's a school for kids that are too bad to stay in school but too good to put in jail," she said. "Some of them go on to college and we still try to help them. I was always interested in education."

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Daughter Cathy is a teacher at Beach Elementary and is being honored as co-Teacher of the Year at the same Best of the Beach event.

Betty is also an original member of the Fort Myers Beach Tarpon Hunters Club - a membership that goes way back to the late 1950s - and was one of original members of Fort Myers Beach Community Emergency Response Team.

"I was in the first class. It's another service where I wanted to help people," she said.

Goodacre has been a faithful member of St. Raphael Church, both with the original Episcopal faith then the offshoot Anglican faith, and served as choir director for both churches. Singing came naturally for her. Besides singing in church, the accomplished singer sang soprano as an original member of Southwest Florida Symphony Chorus that dates back to the 1960s. She also volunteered her voice at many local events that included "The Star Spangled Banner" at baseball games and fire department station dedications to "America the Beautiful" and church hymns at the Blessing of the Fleet, an event she was heavily involved in.

"One year, we did 600 pounds of shrimp," she recalled. "I sang at everybody's wedding."

If that is not enough, Goodacre was a girl scout leader for 17 years.

"What gets me is that, over the past few years, all my girls who were girl scouts, have babies of their own," she said.

In addition, Goodacre was the first woman commodore of Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society, a distinction she held in 1980 and again in 1988. She was also a sailing instructor who started a club on the Beach when her daughters were children.

When asked if there was something missing from her long-scrolled resume, she quipped, "I don't know what else I would have time for."

Goodacre history

While most people discover the tropical paradise we all reside in and visit by driving a vehicle from northern territories, Goodacre took a path less taken.

In 1956, Betty, her husband Norman (who passed in 1990) daughters Cathy and Pam and a cat took a sailboat from Sarnia, Ontario to Fort Myers Beach. The trip began in Lake Huron and went through the Erie Canal, down the Hudson River and the inland waterway to the St. Lucie inlet to Lake Okeechobee and down the Caloosahatchee River to Southwest Florida.

"It took us two months to get here. We left Sarnia on the Sept. 17 and arrived in Fort Myers on Nov. 17," Betty said.

The Goodacres moved to the Beach due to a health issue that inflicted Pam (severe asthma).

"The doctor told us that we had to get her to a warmer place," she said.

Doctor recommendations involved either Florida or Arizona.

"You can't take a sailboat to Arizona," joked Betty. "We knew we could take a sailboat into here. But, we were the only sailboat in the area. Everybody else had shrimp boats and fishing boats."

The Goodacres first stayed in beachfront accommodations -the former Dream Port Motel that was situated where Crescent State Family Park currently sits- when they first came down and eventually bought a trailer and land on Oak Street on San Carlos Island. Betty's parents moved down to the area in 1963 and, with the help from Betty and Norman and the kids, built a house on the same property. Her father, who was a sailor, actually wrote a fire report called the "Sounds of Sirens" for the Beach Bulletin. He was a welder and also an instructor for a local U.S. Power Squadron station.

Betty and Norman first owned a "fish camp" called Pelican Harbor, a business that was housed in the former Dock O' The Bay Bar & Grill near Hurricane Pass Bridge. They rented boats and sold provisions like beer, snacks, soda, ice cream, hamburgers and bait. Before the trailer, the Goodacres lived on their sailboat that was docked at the business.

During their trailer days, Hurricane Donna swept by in 1960 and caused much damage to the area. Cathy recalls how the trailer stayed upright for the most part.

"My father took a telephone pole and sunk it into the ground next to the trailer and tied the trailer to the pole," she said. "We were the only one standing on the street when Hurricane Donna came. It was smashed up pretty good, but we moved back into it eventually."

In 1965, Betty's parents passed, and the Goodacres moved into the house. That is when they started an upholstery business at the Oak Street residence (zoned commercial). Betty still resides in that home at the end of the street.

What really stands out is that many of the aforementioned extracurricular activities that Goodacre performed was in between tending the family business and working nights (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.) as a special duty nursing job. (Back in Canada, Goodacre went to school to become a registered nurse.)

Besides Cathy and Pam, the Goodacres also welcomed another daughter (Norma) into the world while living on Fort Myers Beach. Oh, and Betty was president of the Parent Teacher Association at Cypress Lake High School (vice president when the school was built) when the kids were in school.

"She was always involved in everything we did," said Cathy. "She has done it all."

Betty hopes to recover soon from her illness so that she can again contribute to all the factions she has been involved in. The sedentary lifestyle with the rehabilitation center is not for her.

"I've been around the world twice, to 55 countries and on four different safaris," she said. "I've been busy."

Being carted around in a wheelchair is not for her. Betty was anxious to get to physical therapy.

"I gotta get walking again," she said.



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