The Fort Myers Beach and San Carlos Island community lost one of their brightest lights on January 1, when Betty Goodacre passed away at the age of 88. She had been a resident of our area for over 60 years since sailing here with her family in 1955.
Her age surprised some, as she was a fireball of energy, always ready to wade in and get things done. Prior to illness slowing her down last year, Betty was involved in more activities and causes than you can count. If you have taken the Working Waterfront Tour with the Marine Science Center, Betty probably led the tour, amazing you with her knowledge of the people and the process of shrimping and our local area. If you’ve attended a Fire Board meeting in the past 19 years, you saw Betty serving as a commissioner, many of those years as treasurer. She was a founding member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Fort Myers Beach Tarpon Hunters Club.
Betty became the first female commodore of the Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society in 1980 and taught sailing to children in a club she started when her children were young. Ostego Bay Foundation benefited from Betty’s devotion to the environment as she served on the board as vice-president for 22 years, volunteering in the Marine Science Center and leading tours. She also was devoted to helping children, serving as a Girl Scout leader for 17 years and as a trustee at AMIkids Southwest Florida.
Devoted to improving her community, Betty served on the San Carlos Island Lighting District Board and the San Carlos Island Redevelopment Corporation.
A devoted member of St. Raphael’s Church for many years, both with the Episcopal and later the Anglican faiths, Betty sang with the choir for many years, also serving as choir director at both churches. Her lovely soprano voice was also heard with the Southwest Florida Symphony Chorus as a founding member beginning over 50 years ago. You may have heard her sing the National Anthem at baseball games or hymns at the Blessing of the Fleet each year. It is an understatement to say that Betty was generous with her time and her talent.
She and her husband Norman came to Fort Myers Beach in 1955, after sailing their boat carrying their two daughters, Cathy and Pam, plus a cat, from Sarnia, Ontario through the inland waterway. They would settle on San Carlos Island, buying property on Oak Street where Betty would live in a home she and her husband built with her parents, until entering the rehabilitation center last year. The Goodacre’s owned and ran the Pelican Harbor fish camp near Hurricane Pass bridge where Boot Kicken Sports Bar is now, supplying boaters and fishermen for several years. In 1965 they opened an upholstery business that would serve the community for 50 years.
Whilst serving her community and running a family business, Betty and Norm would add a third daughter, Norma, to their family. Betty also worked as a special duty nurse.
Never one to talk about herself, many people were unaware of the depth and breadth of Betty’s service and accomplishments. She just saw a need and filled it. If you were lucky enough to have met her, even once, you knew of her kindness and compassion. She radiated it.
In the last year, as Betty has been recognized with awards including the Humanitarian Award from Breeze Newspapers and a Fire District Award recognizing her 19 years of service to the Fort Myers Beach Fire District.
At the Fire District award ceremony, we asked Betty what she wanted the people of Fort Myers Beach who had elected her year after year to represent them on the Fire Board to know. She answered without any hesitation.
“It’s the best place in the world to live. Lovely people.”
Betty was one of the reasons it’s the “best place.” Would that we each inherit just a tiny sliver of her dedication and commitment to serving our community – we would indeed honor her memory.
A Memorial Service for Betty Goodacre will be held at St. Raphael’s Church. 5601 Williams Drive, Fort Myers Beach on Saturday, January 16 at 11am. The family has requested that any donations in Betty’s memory be made to AMIkids or Ostego Bay Marine Science Foundation.
Photos by Mallory Schindler