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Long-time resident has enjoyed watching Cape develop

Clint Kelly first visited the Cape in the late 1960s

August 26, 2010

Clint Kelly, who turned 95 years old Wednesday, July 28, moved to Cape Coral in 1970, after staying in Miami for basic training for the U.S. military for nine months, along with visiting Lee County with his wife Evelyn, known as "Susie," for many years.

Drafted at the age 28, Kelly stay in Miami provided him with the opportunity to learn about Florida, along with seeing the growth of the state first-hand.

He became familiar with Lee County after he and his wife began traveling to Sanibel every year for two weeks as a Christmas vacation. When traveling to Sanibel in the late 1960s, the Kellys encountered Hurricane Donna and were asked to evacuate the island and find a safe place to stay, which gave them the opportunity to experience more of Lee County.

Article Photos

Clint and Susie Kelly aboard their boat in 1977.

When leaving Sanibel, they saw a sign that pointed the direction to Cape Coral, which, he said, was before it became a city. They stayed in the then fledgling community during the hurricane and enjoyed what they saw.

Before the Kellys decided to make Cape Coral their permanent home, they traveled to numerous places around the United States to see if they would like to live there, but nothing compared to what they experienced in the Cape. He said they choose Cape Coral to retire after spending more than 70 years combined in education.

The Kellys found a model home in Naples that they received permission from Lee County to build in Cape Coral near the Yacht Club. After visiting the home on long weekends from Illinois for a year, they moved into the home, where he still resides, in1971.

There was a total of 1,200 residents once the couple moved to Cape Coral, which he said was a retirement community.

Kelly said there are too many things to think about when remembering how the city has changed over they years. One thing that has remained the same since the beginning of the city, he said, is "it is a town of rules."

"I don't think it's bad," he said about the rules. "I have lived in towns without rules and you have junk in every direction."

Another thing that stood out was the lack of a bridge that connected Cape Coral to Fort Myers. Kelly said they enjoyed the isolation Cape Coral provided, but if they wanted to go anywhere they had to drive north to go south to Fort Myers.

"It was quite a trip when you wanted an ice cream cone," he said laughing.

When they moved into the city, Kelly said there was a grocery store, drug store, hardware store, mechanic garage, post office, mail delivery at the Yacht Club pier and a building that housed a doctor's office and lawyers.

"The Yacht Club was the only place for entertainment," he said, along with a "place to vote."

Every Sunday night he said they went to the Yacht Club, so they could see all of their friends and watch the sunset over the water.

"Susie and I went to go meet President Jimmy Carter at the Yacht Club," Kelly said. "We got to meet him, shake hands with him and tell him what we did."

Kelly said he and his wife decided they could not have picked a better place to live because Cape Coral has continued to grow over the years, instead of being torn down.

"We wanted a town that was growing and you saw new things all the time ... new buildings and not old buildings," he said

Kelly said a hobby, which began when he was 6 or 7 years old, gave him an opportunity to showcase all of the Indian relics he and his wife found at a wing of the Cape Coral Museum that was dedicated to them in 2009.

His colorful life also allowed him to tackle his thrill of writing at age 85, when his first book, "Romance for Life," was published. He has written 40 altogether.

"I have watched everything grow from nothing to a beautiful city," he said. "It has been an interesting life for me to live in a town that grew into a city that I think is one of the better ones in the country."



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