Jack S. Tanner, 79
Jack S. Tanner, 79, of Ft. Myers passed away Wednesday January 8, 2014 at Lee Memorial Hospital. He was born in Tampa in 1934 to Herman and Cecelia Tanner and shortly after moved to Ft. Myers. He graduated from Fort Myers High School in 1952. Jack owned and operated Tanner Auto Parts in Ft. Myers for many years.
Survivors include his children Bradford Tanner and Matthew (wife Tania) Tanner all of Ft. Myers, Niki (husband Dan) Murphy of Orlando, Fl, his sister Harriet (husband Edwin) Safer of Jacksonville, two grandchildren Maggie and William Murphy and his dear companion Dr. Martha Friedman.
A memorial service will be celebrated 12 noon Saturday January 18, 2014 at Harvey-Engelhardt Funeral Home. Please visit www.harvey-engelhardt.com to view Jack’s Life Tribute and share a memory or condolence.
Jack Tanner, a libertarian activist influential in many Southwest Florida civic and political circles, died Wednesday at 79.
Tanner, a North Fort Myers resident and champion against big government, was responsible for dissolving the obsolete Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District last year. He was also an avid Ron Paul supporter, backer of legalized medicinal marijuana, habitual online commenter and active kayaker and cyclist.
“I think anybody who knew my dad knew that he was passionate about what he believed in and liked to share his opinions with others,” said his daughter, Niki Murphy, 42, of Orlando.
Tanner was in a car crash with his female partner Jan. 2 while in Savannah, Ga., for New Year’s, Murphy said. Tanner spent time in a Savannah hospital, but seemed OK. His partner remains hospitalized.
On Monday, Tanner insisted the hospital release him so he could go home. Murphy and her brother brought him back to Southwest Florida, but he suffered a brain bleed that evening. Tanner was pronounced dead Wednesday.
David Plazas, senior editor of digital engagement at The News-Press, met Tanner in 2006, when Plazas was coordinating editorial board meetings. The News-Press wasn’t going to meet with the Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District board, but Tanner kept calling and insisting. He wanted his views heard, and Plazas eventually gave in.
Plazas was later impressed by Tanner’s success dissolving the Soil and Water Conservation District, which was created in 1947 and had lost much of its relevance by the 21st Century. Tanner redistributed the District’s budget to more than 7,000 property owners in the form of $10 checks.
Tanner was also an avid commenter on local news websites. But in a world filled with Internet trolls posting disparaging, negative remarks — Tanner was different. He was never derogatory, Plazas said.
Rickey Nelson, president of SWFL Young Republicans, agrees.
“Jack was always willing to share his opinions and philosophies,” he said in an email, “but always in a polite and respectful way.”
Ismael Hernandez, founder of the Freedom & Virtue Institute, called Tanner a patriot, gentleman and giant defender of liberty.
“You did not need to agree with Jack on everything to know that he was a caring and knowledgeable man,” Hernandez said in an email.
Marilyn Stout, president of the Business People United for Political Action Committee (BUPAC), said it’s hard to believe Tanner is gone. She saw him a few weeks ago — he rode his bicycle to meet her in Cape Coral, and appeared in great health.
BUPAC organizes meetings with local political candidates, and Tanner could always be counted on to come prepared with questions to challenge the speakers, Stout said.
“Maybe you might call him feisty,” she said. “But always in good humor. And often with a smile.”
Tanner leaves behind his daughter, Murphy, and two sons — Matthew Tanner, 46, and Brad Tanner, 50, both of Fort Myers.