Rarely has the departure of an individual affected so many on the island. A literal Who’s Who of Marco Island came by to say goodbye to Tony DeLucia, the popular Marco YMCA Community Engagement specialist and Marco Police Department Community Relations officer on July 22 in the Y’s front parking lot.
It seems only fitting that the word community is part of DeLucia’s title at both the YMCA and the City of Marco Island. Through a seemingly endless list of functions that Delucia has lent his trademark voice to, he has become affectionately known as The Voice of Marco Island.
City Manager Mike McNees made a special trip to the Marco Y to present DeLucia with an official proclamation honoring his many contributions to the island.
As McNees read the proclamation to the assembled crowd, the list of functions DeLucia has contributed his voice and considerable efforts to seemed almost endless.
The Proclamation to Commend Anthony DeLucia for Community Service recognized him as the “Voice of the Island” for charitable causes.
The proclamation mentioned that DeLucia has served as organizer, announcer, and stage manager in events including Tour de Marco, Mutts & Martinis, the Marco Island Car Show, the Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival, the Souper Bowl fundraiser, Island Rocks Concert, the Fire Foundation’s Chili Cookoff, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Taste of Marco and the Civitan Pizza Party for Camp Able.
Of course, DeLucia was also a fixture at sporting events and school functions island–wide. He was even the ring announcer for boxing events. In fact, it would be accurate to say that it was unusual to attend an event on the island that DeLucia was not a part of. And more often than not, DeLucia volunteered his efforts.
When news of DeLucia’s return to his Northeast Ohio roots circulated through the community, many received the news with disbelief and sadness. A reaction of “What are we going to do?” was common.
The person most affected by DeLucia’s departure, the Marco Y’s CEO Cindy Love, delivered a heartfelt goodbye to the person she counted on.
“You’ve done an enormous amount of work for our whole community,” Love told DeLucia in front of the crowd gathered at the Y. “You’re irreplaceable. I don’t know what we’re going to do. I think we all feel that way. You’re the C in Community, as they say. You’re calm, collected, you never get riled outside—maybe inside, but not outside. You’re just that person that we all go to for all kinds of stuff. To be a bus driver, whatever it might be. You just jump in. You never say no to anybody. That’s probably why you work a million hours a week. We just really, really, thank you. You’re going to be missed more than you’ll ever know.”
Love also recognized Tony’s wife, June DeLucia, for all she does in the background to support both Tony and the Y.
Several individuals were happy to go on record with their appreciation of DeLucia.
“Tony has been the voice of Marco Island,” said George Abounader, former longtime Principal and CEO of the Marco Island Charter Middle School. “He’s always there when you need him. Anytime we needed someone to either be a DJ and bring some music or be an emcee at an event, he was there. A lot of people know him from the seafood festival, because he’s the voice all weekend on the microphone, announcing everything and organizing the bands that come to the seafood festival. He’s just a legend here on the island. We’re going to miss him. Our loss is Ohio’s gain. Ohio’s going to be blessed to have him back.”
“Marco Island is going to miss Tony so much,” said Linda Sandlin, President of the Rotary Club of Marco Island Noontime. “He has given his talents, his treasures, to you name it, to every good cause on this island. And we all know him for his incredible talents that we’ve enjoyed so much. He makes every event more fun, more exciting, more successful. I want to especially thank Tony, who worked with me to put together the Flags for Heroes, which is a joint project between the Rotary Club of Marco Island Noontime and the YMCA to sell sponsorships for 5’ x 7′ American flags to fly on the big vacant property by the YMCA. This project honors the heroes in your life. The heroes on our island, of which we have so many today. The money for the sponsorship, which is just $50 for the sponsorship of a flag for your hero, will all go back to serve our community’s critical needs. So many of which the YMCA addresses. So Tony was my hero in organizing this event. He is an expert in events. So we’re going to miss him.”
“Tony DeLucia was a mainstay,” said Val Simon, Publisher of the Coastal Breeze News. “He emceed all the events. Tony’s voice is well known in these parts for always being upbeat and engaging. Every organization came to rely on him. He is going to be greatly missed in this community. Tony, we’re hoping you hurry up and grow wings and come back as a snowbird. And, thank you for all you’ve done!”
“We told Tony what we wanted to do in the community and right away he offered to be the president of the club,” said Nery Kircher of the Civitan Club. Nery and her husband Bob are the founders of the Marco Civitan Club. “He has been very dedicated to the plans and programs we’ve had since 2014. He’s surely going to be missed.”
Peter Sottong, the Y’s Head of Maintenance, delivered a humorous salute to DeLucia, whose radio name is Steve Reynolds. The two names sometimes cause a bit of confusion around the island.
“Anthony, Steve, or Steven, Tony. One is true, the other phony. Reynolds, DeLucia, Tony, Steve. One is real, one is make-believe. Is this a man who has lost direction or just someone who has gone into witness protection? We’re sorry that you’re moving so far… we’ll miss you, man, whoever you are.”
Sottong may be more well known as an artist. He creates replicas of the Key Marco Cat and ancient Calusa masks that are available for sale at the Marco Island Historical Society.
When DeLucia took over the microphone, he immediately recognized Cindy Love.
“One person stands out in the crowd,” DeLucia said, “and that’s Cindy Love Abounader. She took a chance on me way back when. Other than my wife, she’s the only other woman in my life I try not to disappoint.”
DeLucia reflected on his time spent on Marco Island after the ceremony.
“The Y gave me a nice thank you card, a nice going–away present. I got some nice cards from people around the island. I was real surprised to see both police captains, the police chief, the fire chief, the head of the chamber.
“It’s been fun. I like to get involved in the community. My wife June’s got involved in the Civitan Club. She got involved in Relay for Life, Taste of Marco.”
The DeLucia’s decision to return home to Northeast Ohio, Youngstown specifically, was a decision they wrestled with.
“We had a lot of chats, June and I,” DeLucia said. “I miss my family; I miss my kids. My grandkids are getting bigger.
“I’m leaving on good terms. As simple as that. You do what you can, help out, have the best time of your life, make the most out of it and go on from there. We’ve had a fun time here. We’ve enjoyed ourselves; we’ve enriched ourselves, made a lot of new friends, got involved in activities and have some really nice memories. It’s bittersweet. It really is. We’re ready for the next chapter. Everybody’s excited about us coming up north. The kids, the grandkids, my friends, June’s friends.”