Third-generation Longbeach Village resident Mark Wickersham died Dec. 4. He was 58.
According to a Longboat Key police report, he died Wednesday afternoon by suicide.
Later that evening, when the Longbeach Village Association held its monthly meeting, the group observed a moment of silence in his honor.
Wickersham grew up on a Key with “sandspurs, rattlesnakes and one or two cop cars we could outrun,” according to his brother Chuck, his business partner in the Longboat Key-based C&M Construction.
Chuck moved away from the island years ago, but Mark opted to stay on the island and raise his family in the house next door to where he grew up.
“He was an island guy,” Chuck Wickersham said. “He loved everything about the water and the beach.”
Wickersham attended Anna Maria Island Elementary as a child and left the Key in 1969 to attend Tennessee Military Institute. He went on to attend and play football at the University of Mississippi, aka “Ole Miss,” before attending the University of Florida.
He returned to the Key in the 1970s and established C&M Construction with his brother in 1981.
“Most people thought we were nuts,” Chuck Wickersham said about going into business with his brother 32 years ago. “But I lost my best friend, my partner and my brother all in one day.”
Many of Wickersham’s friends were other longtime Key business owners.
Harry Christensen, owner of Harry’s Continental Kitchens, met Wickersham in 1973, just after he moved onto the Key. He relied on Wickersham’s company any time he needed renovations to his home or business.
“They’re local people who grew up here and really went out of their way,” Christensen said “Friendship-wise, he was a wonderful, wonderful friend.”
“I’ve known Mark for more than 30 years,” said Rusty Chinnis, who is also a contractor and Longbeach Village resident. “I always thought of him as a friend rather than another contractor.”
He loved fishing, boats and had the best-kept yard in the neighborhood, according to Chinnis.
He was also a loyal Florida Gators fan who enjoyed hosting football parties at his home and an avid supporter of the Wounded Warriors Project, according to his family.
“He was a fixture in the neighborhood,” Chinnis said. “He will be missed.”
Wickersham is survived by his father, Reb Wickersham, of Oregon; wife of 27 years, Ella; children Lindsey, C.J. and Kristi; siblings Chuck, of Myakka, Melanni Fowler, of Bradenton, Karri Nicosia, of Colorado, and Cindy English, Kody Wickersham and Charlsie Nagel, all of Oregon; and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes.org, National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org, and the Wounded Warrior Project, support.woundedwarriorproject.org.