Florida Oceanographic was started in 1964, the year of my birth. When my parents moved to Stuart, I was eight months old. After living with or near my grandparents, the family built a house on Edgewood Drive in St Lucie Estates. As soon as I was old enough to ride my bike, one of the coolest things around was Florida Oceanographic at the mouth of Krueger Creek, where Mr Rand, an eccentric, wealthy businessman lived or had the headquarters to his corporation.
Another part of growing up was going to St Mary’s Church. And as a kid I always looked up to the older kids and two of the most prominent were Mark and Chris Perry. Their parents lived in Snug Harbor and looked like movie stars to me. Mark and Chris were simply “cool,” while I was a little twerp. My mom always told me Mark worked or helped at Florida Oceanographic, this made me pay more attention to the water and research of such.
In time Mark became the head of Florida Oceanographic. I went away to University of Florida and other places for over 17 years and when I returned the new location of the institution on Hutchinson Island was even more compelling. Mark’s leadership had built the institution and given a voice to the Indian River Lagoon and offshore reefs in way never done locally before, inspiring a new generation of people.
To celebrate Florida Oceanographic, is to celebrate the life of Mark Perry. No one has given a lifetime of service to the areas’ lagoon and ocean in the way Mark Perry has. Fifty years later and he remains one of the people I still admire most and feel he has influenced my love and protective attitude towards our local waters; I bet he’s influenced you too. Go visit today and give Mark Perry a bear hug in the name of the Indian River Lagoon!