Anna Maria Island has lost two community heroes that made Anna Maria Island what it is today, Sue Normand and Billy O'Conner. Both passed away last week, shocking islanders with the loss of these two great citizens.
Sue lost her life to lung cancer. She owned the Pac and Ship store in Holmes Beach for many years.
In 2007, a man came into the store and shot her for no reason. Sue was very seriously hurt, and the islanders pulled together to pay for an elevator in her home.
She served on the Holmes Beach Planning Commission for many years. Sue served as chairman of the Planning Commission during a very tough time when Holmes Beach reviewed and changed the Comprehensive Plan page by page. It took over a year to accomplish this with meetings every week and public hearings. Sue lead that charge and we thank her.
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She served on planning boards for Manatee County with her thoughtfulness and attention for detail. As Holmes Beach mayor at the time, I thank Sue and will never forget her love of this community.
Bill O'Conner (Billy O) was half of the team that organized the annual bowling tournament for Anna Maria Community Center that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the center. George (his twin brother) and Billy were the masterminds behind this to raise money for our island kids. Bill was just spotted at Duffy's a few weeks ago by a friend and was always the epitome of what an islander is.
My heart breaks in the loss of these two great friends. I have spoken to many islanders over the past few days and this is a sad time for all of us right now.
Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Commissioner Holmes Beach