On October 27, 2020, LeRoy Creswell (on the right in the blog header image) passed away after a long battle with cancer. Many in UF/IFAS Extension remember LeRoy as the Sea Grant agent in St. Lucie County, a position he held from 2000-2011. During this time, he was one of the early presidents of the Florida Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. From 2011 until his retirement in 2019, he served as an Extension program manager for Florida Sea Grant.
What people may not realize is the depth of his reach beyond UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant.
Before working for UF, LeRoy worked at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce, FL, where he directed the tropical aquaculture laboratory. It was in that role where John Scarpa (now an associate professor at Texas A&M University and president of the National Shellfisheries Association) first met him. John says, “I was fortunate to have met LeRoy early in my career when I was a postdoctoral associate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. He warmly welcomed me and not only did I have a new colleague but a lifelong mentor and friend. He introduced me into the world of professional society service as he volunteered for so many different professional organizations. We even ran against each other for one position in the National Shellfisheries Association; yes, I lost and with no regrets. Although professional society volunteering kept us close, his time at FL Sea Grant allowed us to continue a research and education relationship as we explored new species for aquaculture. I will miss his warm smile and vast knowledge of literature and music that made for great conversations.”
After joining Florida Sea Grant, LeRoy was known for reaching out to new extension agents, as you can read in this tribute on the Florida Sea Grant website. His cheerful attitude, and (sometimes quirky) sense of humor were always appreciated, as were his musical talents and his love of dogs. He also had an incredible work ethic and was very active in professional associations, including the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, the World Aquaculture Society and the National Shellfisheries Association.
The following tribute will be included in the proceedings for the 2020 GCFI meeting, which was held November 2-6, 2020. “LeRoy served as the Executive Secretary and Senior Editor of the annual Gulf Caribbean Fisheries Institute Proceedings for the previous 18 years. He was an institutional pillar, not only through his official responsibilities, but also through the generosity and warmth he gave to all, especially to students and early-career professionals ready to become part of the GCFI family. In life, he was a charismatic presence, generous with his knowledge and wisdom, and a clarion voice for marine aquaculture and sustainable resource management in the U.S. and the Caribbean. His contributions to GCFI will remain with us forever.”
You can read many additional posts on his Tribute Wall. Feel free to add your own memories of LeRoy to share with his wife, Danita, and daughters Leala and Alonnah. Thanks to John Scarpa for sharing the photographs used in this blog post.