‘Heroic’ Bill and Pat Mellor were titled the “world’s earliest environmentalist” by Cynthia Williams, the daughter of a developer who nearly destroyed Estero Bay’s fragile ecosystem.
Fort Myers is home to Estero Bay, a beautiful piece of paradise on the west coast of Florida. This inlet off of the Gulf of Mexico is known for its stunning beauty and wildlife including dolphins, fish, turtles, manatees, eagles and other exotic birds. However, in the 1960s it was almost destroyed when developers acquired the land and tried to build a city on its shores. It was thanks to the efforts of Bill and Pat Mellor, a couple relying on the bay for sustenance to support their young family, who stood up to the developers and created the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve in 1966.
Family Pictures USA was able to introduce Cynthia Williams to Bill and Pat Mellor, who are now in their 90s. Cynthia thanked them for their efforts which really touched the couple. Two families, once separated by Estero Bay, were able to unite in its preserved beauty and finally gain closure. Watch this reunion on the Southwest Florida episode of Family Pictures USA airing on PBS at 8 p.m. on August 13th.
We were able to recover for the Mellor family the pictures of Estero Bay featured above during production. We digitized slides of images captured in the late 50s and 60s that the couple had been unable to view.