Henry has lived here seventy-one years. Growing up on Marco Island he recounts stories about how there was no electricity and no plumbing there. He moved to Naples for a while from an island of 250 people to the “big” community of thirty-four hundred people in Collier County. He has this infectious smile as he quips, “It was the first time I ever saw flush toilets and electric lights.”
“What was it like growing up as a kid here,” I asked. “Wonderful,” he replies smiling. “There were no rules. Just be in by dark. We didn’t get in trouble. Respect was the underlying theme in everything. Respect yourself, your parents, but more importantly, respect and appreciate the environment, and simply be in awe of this tropical paradise.”
Seventy-one years later, Henry has never lost sight of what life is really all about. Henry is kind, God fearing, and a natural born humorist, who not only goes with the flow, but is part of the flow, like the moon and tides. He truly walksthe walk. Even though he has been in the boat business for more than half a century, he doesn’t consider what he does work. “It’s fun,” smiles Henry.
Henry likes people. He is always there to lend a hand. Years ago, when Civil Air Patrol spotted a capsized boat in the pass, they called Henry. Immediately, Henry rescued two people and saved their lives. However, he is extremely modest. “Glad I could help,” he told me.
Not only is Henry a great listener but he is also a wonderful story teller.
“Have you ever considered writing a book?” I asked.
“Not yet, because there are so many great stories, I wouldn’t know where to begin,” replied Henry.
He told me about when they were shooting the movie, Gone Fishing, with Danny Glover and Joe Pesci. Henry and his wife were extras in the movie. However, the back story is sad, but more interesting. Henry had supplied some of the boats for the shoot. He met the stunt man and recalls, “He may have been a good stunt man, but I could tell he did not understand boats.”Horribly, someone was killed during a stunt.” Henry walked away with only a minor scratch.
Henry’s family worked for the Barfield family, who were bee pollinators. The bees wax was vital to the war effort. After wax or paraffin was manufactured artificially, the bee business died (no pun intended).
Henry showed me the plans and the ship he had built, The Big Dipper, which looked like a floating city. Dan Dilisio, has worked for Henry at both his Isles of Capri location and his Naples location and loves his boss. I actually caught Henry blushing as Dan praised Henry about how greatit is to be a part of his team. Henry sells and brokers boats and yachts all over the world. He tries to educate people on what they are going to purchase. Sometimes people come in thinking that they know what they want.
“I know that it is not the right boat for them. So I talk to them and let it seem like it is their idea to sometimes be more realistic in their goals and expectations. I want people to be happy, not just sell them a boat.”
That is why most of Henry’s business comes from referrals. He is the man to go to that people trust. I asked Henry what it’s like since he moved his business to The Isles of Capri. “Really great,” he says. “Although I loved my location on Marco, it was a lot different. I was in a building with doctors, lawyers, accountants. Nice people, but they were kind of serious. Here on the island everybody is always smiling, waving at each other. Everyone is always happy and having fun. I love it here.”
I had scheduled a half-hour interview with Henry. We spoke for almost two hours. I expect to grab Henry again. I feel I have barely scratched the surface with this fascinating guy. C’mon? Seventy-one years here. Imagine all the stories!
Henry knows where all the skeletons are too. We talked off the record briefly. “If I can’t say something good about someone then I have nothing to say.”
That’s what I call class. Henry can be reached at 239-642-3439 Better yet, stop in and see him at his new location at 278-B Capri Blvd. on The Isles of Capri. Welcome Henry. We are glad you are here.