Tony Florio Woodland Beach Wildlife Area dedication on 23 June, 2014

Good morning…
To those distinguished members of the Legislature present; to the members of DNREC; to those, like myself, retired State of Delaware employees; to the member of various councils present; our guests……and family.
tonyflorio-dedicationYou know, probably very few people have had a career which has been so personally re-
warding as that with which I’ve been blessed.
Over the years there have been so many people who have helped me in various and sundry ways, that it would be impossible to sort them all out. However, I would like to enumerate a few who have, through the years, provided the sustenance which allows one to proceed.

First and foremost, Norman Wilder, who took me under his wing as an undergraduate at UCONN: he brought me to Delaware and really was my mentor, my guidepost and, on at least one occasion, my salvation.. He literally brought an as yet unmarried Patricia and me out to this very house, some 60 years ago, asking us if, following our impending marriage, we would like to live here.

To Patricia, my wife of nearly 60 years , who moved into the Sutton House as a new bride, who has cheerfully put up with all my faults and foibles; mosquitoes; greenheads;
sheep-flies; no-see-ums; hurricanes and lightning strikes; roads that, at times, would put to shame a Vermont mud season. To her perseverance and uncommon common sense, there is no way I could ever hope to convey my everlasting love and gratitude.

To our children; Gwen, Roger and Kathleen…..well, few offspring could have provided their parents with more admiration and appreciation than you have….and continue to. Thank you.

To my sadly departed alter ego, brother-in-law, hunting companion of over 50 years, the good doctor Pete Piper of Pennsylvania: on many times and places we especially savored sunrises over the cordgrasses behind me, Taylors Gut and numerous other Delaware venues.

Dudley Lunt showed up at the house one day and introduced himself. He had prevailed upon our neighbor Fred Goldsborough to rent a blind on Taylors Gut….that is all it was then, a gut…and Dudley was lucky to scratch a duck or two out of that blind in a season.

Then we (the Fish and Game Department) prevailed upon the Highway Department to impound the gut when they paved Route 9. And Dudley found himself sitting in the “hot tub”!

It was through illustrating Dudley Lunt’s book, “Taylors Gut”, that I met Angus Cameron, senior editor at Knopf in New York. For years Angus had urged me to write a book, but by the time I got around to writing “Progger” Angus had retired and his replacement, of a different bent, declined.

But then, along came June Sayers of Smyrna, who urged me to jointly publish “Progger” with the Smyrna Clayton Heritage Association. Funny how good things happen…

To my field crew; how could one not accomplish good things without the likes of Billy Cook, Joe Heininger, Bobby Knight, Tweety and Howard….just to mention a few.

As it turned out, this was a good…if very singular…environment to raise children in. I do think that Gwen, Roger and Kathy would have no trouble attesting to that.

This event has evoked a sea of sublime memories within me. Your very lovely, familiar faces and places, plus the images of those so dear to me…now gone…have been etched upon my very soul.

Finally I especially want to thank Joanna Wilson, Wayne Lehman and Dave Saveikis, who were so instrumental in making it all possible.

Thank you!