One of the great characteristics about our nation is that you can come from modest means but rise to great heights if you put your mind to it, work hard and dedicate yourself and your endeavors to improving the lives of others. This last weekend, I had the privilege to share in honoring one such individual with whom I had the benefit of calling a friend since moving to Marco Island 30 years ago.
It was through my membership in the Sunrise Rotary Club of Marco Island that I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with Thomas Wayne Purvis in 2006. Wayne, as most of us knew him by, would quietly pass from us on March 8, 2020. Although he would eventually pass quietly, it was not without beating the odds and demonstrating what the definition of “True-Grit” was all about. All of this after a valiant and courageous fight over eleven months against an insidious disease, which may have taken his life in the end, but would elevate him to Herculean status in the eyes of all that knew that boy from Kentucky.
Wayne took on numerous tasks that endeared him to so many. His work as a Rotarian and leadership role in that organization would set a high standard for others to follow. There was no challenge too great or goal that was unobtainable in either his personal life or that of his business career.
On a Saturday evening, we heard from so many of his family members, longtime friends and those that became a part of his second family from his exceptional professional career that spanned so many years. They all had patiently waited these last months since his passing to come together to sing those praises and tell the story of a man who they all loved. Although kept apart by the COVID-19 virus over these last 7 months, it resulted in the intensifying of the affection for the man that we all miss today but waited so patiently to speak so glowingly on that evening.
On that Saturday morning, the Christmas Island Style Committee, of which Wayne and his wife Susan were an integral part, gathered to officially rename their annual golf outing as the Wayne Purvis Memorial Christmas Tournament. This was done in his honor, both as the event’s past Chairman of the tournament and as a proud member of the Island Country Club’s “F” Troop, which had become a vital part of its success.
It was a fitting honor, that at the end of the day that it would be his Wayne’s son Mike Purvis, his Son-in-Law Dave Platt, Brother-in-Law Andy Sutton and longtime friend Tom Eiseman who brought home the gold as the overall winners of the annual event. Wayne would be smiling down upon them all and his presence could certainly be felt amongst the players and staff at the club which Wayne loved so dearly.
Within a month from now, another event that reflects the values of the man we celebrated that evening will be held. The annual meal packaging event which has been held on the island since 2010 was a collaborative effort between Purvis and Steve Popper who headed the Naples Meals of Hope organization. Wayne would wrap his arms around a Marco event and pour his energies into making the Marco Island Meals of Hope occurrence so successful. The goal this year has swelled to 250,000 meals to feed the hungry in Collier County. All this from its modest beginnings of 5000 meals in its first year because of Wayne and Sue Purvis’ vision.
Some of the efforts regarding fundraising which are normally done during the year leading up to the event were curtailed due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Those monies are used to purchase the food which is packaged during the event. In honor of Wayne’s commitment to the community and the Meals of Hope effort, friends from the “F-Troop” once again rallied to honor his love of community and stepped up to donate over $20,000 in his honor to ensure the event would continue.
It was this type of impact on his adopted community that Thomas Wayne Purvis had on those around him. His commitment to making a difference would be my friend’s greatest legacy. His love of his family and his ability to bring out the best in those around him was another great attribute of this larger than life man.
Wayne, I’ll miss our regular golf outings, your stories about Kentucky sports and your occasional lectures. Our love of our Miniature Schnauzers and our trips up to the used golf club store will equally be missed.
I’m a better man having known you and Susan and will look forward to the day we meet again my friend.