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Apalachicola mourns passing of Mayor Begos

Apalachicola Mayor Kevin Begos died early Saturday morning
in Tallahassee.

Members of the family confirmed Kevin Paul Begos, Jr. passed
away at Capital Regional Medical Center at 1:40 a.m., at the age of 63. He had
been rushed there early Thursday morning via medavac after experiencing cardiac arrest.

His mother, Jane Richardson, of Apalachicola, was with him
at the time of his passing, after she and Begos’ sister, Cassandra Begos, of
New York City, had adhered to his final wishes that he not be sustained on life
support by artificial means.

For the last few weeks, Begos has been on the mend at Weems Memorial
Hospital from an infection that had slowed him back in May, and had required an
initial hospital stay at Bay Medical Center. Doctors had worked to get rid of the infection that had affected the aortic heart valve that he had successfully replaced three years ago.

Bevis Funeral Home in Tallahassee is handling arrangements. An
honoring and celebration of life for Begos is planned for Sunday evening, June 27 at 5 p.m. at the Chapman Auditorium.  There will be an opportunity for anyone who would like to speak for two minutes per person. Food will be provided by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Elected in Sept. 2019 in his first bid for public office, Begos wasted little time in taking the rudder of the city, particularly the large water and sewer debt, amassed over several years.

A former reporter with a distinguished career, covering science as well as general assignments, both here and abroad, Begos took a hands-on role in shoring up city finances. He was instrumental in bringing onboard City Manager Travis Wade, Finance Director Leo Bebeau and City Attorney Dan Hartman into the administration.

He was ahead of the curve during the coronavirus pandemic, issuing a proclamation early on that masks be worn inside buildings within the city. He had recovered from COVID-19  in July 2020.

“Apalachicola Mayor Kevin Begos was an outstanding leader in his community, as well as in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District,” read a statement from the office of Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D (Florida-02). “Kevin led Apalachicola through the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and the COVID-19 pandemic, which was no easy feat.

“In a time when his community needed him most, Kevin selflessly stepped up to the plate to unite the community and get the town back on track. I’m incredibly grateful for Mayor Begos’ service and contributions. His family and the citizens of Apalachicola are in my prayers.”

Born in 1958 to US Navy parents in
Marseilles, France, Begos first studied creative writing at
Bard College  during which time he often performed at legendary New York
music venue CBGB as lead singer of the short-lived band The Twilights,
whose memorable song “ I Wore My Heart on My Sleeve ’til You Chopped off My Arm”
has been lost to obscurity.

 During this period of his life, Begos began his career in fine art publishing with artist
Michael Hafftka and continued with many others, including science fiction writer  William
Gibson with whom he conceived and published. Gibson’s poem Agrippa, one of
the first digital books ever produced.

The archive of his papers on the Agrippa
Project are part of the permanent collection of the Bodleian Library at Oxford

Other writers and artists who collaborated with Begos include
Michael Brodsky, Joel-Peter Witkin, Joseph Mitchell and many others. 

 Begos moved to  Apalachicola in the mid 1990’s where he has owned a home for
many years. He began his career as a journalist with the Apalachicola Times,
going on to win awards for his work in the Winston Salem Journal, The
Associated Press and Duke University. His  landmark series in North Carolina
“Against Their Will” helped to enact the first legislation in the United States
to compensate  victims of forced sterilization and prompted an apology
from the governor.

His book, “Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine,”  was
published in 2018, won the Florida Book Award for non-fiction and has been
called “the defacto standard for teaching wine history” by the Philadelphia
Wine School. 

An active member of the community, Begos represented the seafood industry in a professional capacity
for many years, bringing their concerns to the State Capitol and all the way to
the floor of  Congress. He was also proud to be a lighthouse
keeper at the St. George Lighthouse, and a docent at Apalachicola’s  Orman
House and John Gorrie Museum. 

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