The Apalachicola community turned out Sunday evening to the Chapman Auditorium to honor the memory of Mayor Kevin Begos, Jr., who passed away June 19 at the age of 63.
Remembering Begos as a “son, brother, friend and neighbor,” three speakers – Karen Cox-Dennis, Chuck Lombardo and Rose Griffin - offered remarks that touched on his life as a man dedicated to serving the community.
Standing in front of two large displays that featured photos from Begos' life, the remembrance opened with remarks from Apalachicola Mayor Brenda Ash, who was appointed as his successor by the city commission five days after Begos’ death.
Caty Greene, president of the Apalachicola Area Historical Society, then read a passage from one of Begos’ favorite writers, Joseph Mitchell, entitled “Old Man Flood.”
Her reading was followed by remarks from Lombardo, on behalf of the St. George Island Lighthouse Association. In addition to personal reminiscences from when he worked with Begos during his time as a docent, Lombardo shared a reading from a former lighthouse keeper.
Cox-Dennis offered her thoughts primarily on Begos’ legacy as a reporter, an author, a representative of the local seafood industry, and ultimately as mayor, as she detailed much of the work he had done in these various fields. She closed by offering a wine toast, a tribute to Begos’ non-fiction work “Tasting the Past: One Man’s Quest to Discover the World’s Original Wines.”
“An active member of the community, helpful neighbor, and colorful character, he was known as a deeply moral man with a love of good food and for a good cause,” she said. “His deep connection to Apalachicola and his unique background made him a strong leader in his role as mayor.
“A promise he made and fulfilled to rescue Apalach from financial ruin is what will be the most durable achievement in his brief term as mayor,” Cox-Dennis said.
Griffin offered the highlight of the service, a deeply personal account of her friendship with Begos.
“He had style, charm and grace,” she said. “He was not the life of the party, but he was willing to show up. He was not the first to speak but when he spoke, it was from the conscience of man.
“He was doing a whole lot of things before he ever came near a mayorship,” she said. “That’s who he was and that’s what he liked to do. I am so very grateful today that my friend Kevin Paul Begos' (character) doesn’t require rebuilding. His life spoke for itself, his love spoke for itself, his kindness spoke for itself.
“He was a jewel among jewels,” she said. “He placed his hand to the plow and regardless to what was ahead of him or behind him, he would never deliberately release that plow, he would never let go of the charge he had to keep, or look back and regret.
“Adieu, mon ami,” she said in closing.
Following the service, a group of volunteers, led by Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce Director John Solomon, served up a barbecue meal to those in attendance.