Cape Kids — City Leaders: Connie Mack III — former U.S. Senator
Connie Mack III’s family moved to Southwest Florida in 1950 from Pennsylvania when he was 10. His father, Connie Mack Jr., was instrumental in the creation of Cape Coral and the “Waterfront Wonderland” it was advertised as. Mack’s father worked with the Rosen Brothers to promote, sell and develop the new city — providing some name recognition as well.
Mack is best known for his time as U.S. Senator to Florida from 1989 to 2001, being the first Republican Florida senator to serve two terms. He also served for three terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida from 1983 to 1989, representing the Fort Myers and Cape Coral area in what was then Florida’s 13th District.
“I spent a lot of my time in Cape Coral. My first job was with a surveying crew in Cape Coral in 1958. Our little crew put the plot lines in for the first homes being constructed and literally put the seawall in around the Yacht Basin. I was up to my neck in water out there putting seawall in.
“The Rosen brothers were the financial folks who backed and created the idea of Cape Coral, and dad was part of the team they put together to promote, sell and develop Cape Coral.
“My mom and dad always lived in Fort Myers, but my wife Priscilla and I built our first home in Cape Coral, shortly after our daughter was born, in late 1960-61. I went to work for Gulf American and got my real estate license and became a tour guide for the brokerage division and then a land salesman around 1962-63. Then I went from land sales to housing sales.
“I went back to the University of Florida, got my degree and returned to Cape Coral to work for the Cape Coral Bank in 1966. I left the bank and went to First National Bank in Fort Myers as a loan officer and then came back to Cape Coral Bank in 1971.
“We then lived in Cape Coral until I ran for Congress in 1982 and still owned our home in Cape Coral for many years after that.
“I can’t undervalue the importance of experiencing Cape Coral’s growth. Having been out there in the very early days, to watch that unfold, you couldn’t help but come away with a pioneer’s spirit — a ‘can-do’ attitude.
“It was an important part of my life to see things built from the ground up. I was president of the Chamber of Commerce in the Cape and one of the committees we set up at that time was for the hospital. We investigated the need and desire and understanding of the potential for the development of a hospital and determined we should build one.
“We then created a hospital board, which I was chairman of for those years of development. I learned so much from the five years or so I was involved; the whole concept of development — we had to get land, financing, certificates of need, management companies, contractors — it was truly taking something from an idea and seeing it through to completion. It was an exciting time in my life.”
— Compiled by CJ HADDAD