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Memorial ‘party’ held for Messer

May 1, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

More that 200 people attended a memorial "party" held in memory of Johnny Ray Messer II in Bokeelia Sunday afternoon.

Messer, a 32-year-old Bokeelia resident, drowned after falling off a boat and being struck by the propeller in Pine Island Sound on April 3.

"I didn't want this to be a sad event because that's not who Johnny was," his mother Tamalyn Whitehead said. "The way I'd like everyone to remember Johnny is to raise a beer, or Johnny's favorite Captain Morgan, to his memory."

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The service started with a video chronicling Messer's life in pictures. When the video was finished, most everyone was in tears.

"While the video was running, I saw a lot of tears from people in the audience," Pastor John Shell said. "But I also saw a lot of smiles. We are here to not only mourn the loss of someone greatly loved, but to celebrate his life."

Messer started school at Pine Island Elementary but moved to Russellville, Kentucky, where he graduated high school. After graduation, Messer moved back to Pine Island 12 years ago where he got married and made his living as a landscaper, carpenter and fisherman.

Messer's cousin, Wendy Davis, grew up with jom in Kentucky.

"We lived in an old house in Kentucky and Johnny thought it was haunted by children," Davis said. "Johnny would go upstairs to sleep and a few minutes later he'd come down stairs saying 'I can't sleep, those kids are running around.'

"Johnny's mother said in the Eagle article that Johnny was a monkey," Davis said. "Another one of my favorite stories about Johnny is the kid was always climbing trees. One time he climbed a tree and fell out and broke his arm. Jason and Tami took him to the hospital and when he came home, he tumbled down the stairs and the arm had to be reset."

"Putting all this together takes a lot of people and we're still Old Florida here," Johnny's dad, Johnny Ray Messer Sr., said. "We have a lot of support here on Pine Island and I'm grateful to everyone who helped out today. Johnny always said he wanted to be by the waters here on Pine Island and that's why we're here today. Johnny's ashes will be scattered in Charlotte Harbor."

"I would teach Johnny when he was little that you have to love people and to not throw that word around unless you mean it," Whitehead said. "If you say you love someone, you mean it otherwise you hurt people. When I look around today, I can see all of the love in you and this is what Johnny did this is what Johnny's life was about. Thank you for coming."

Messer is survived by his 14-year-old son, Jeremy Messer of Kentucky; 6-year-old daughter, Alissa Messer of Cape Coral; fiance Christine Tamalis; father and step-mother John Messer and Sally Braund of Bokeelia; step-father and mother, Randy and Tamalyn Whitehead of Mulberry, Fla.; sister, Lesalyn Messer of Bokeelia; and younger sister, Whitney Messer of San Antonio, Texas.



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