Gary Israel

What tops your ‘Best of’ list? I am sure each of us could think of many ‘Best of’ moments, experiences or items worthy of sharing. This month, we share some of Estero’s best events, dining experiences, and most of all, people!

On Saturday, Dec. 3, from 4-7 p.m, the Rotary Club of Estero will present the annual “Light Up Estero” community event, the official Christmas tree lighting and holiday celebration for the Village of Estero. Due to Hurricane Ian, the venue has been changed to the parking lot in front of Ocean Church on U.S. 41 north of Williams Road. Yes, there will still be bounce houses, food trucks, plenty of music and even Santa and Mrs. Claus. But above and beyond all of that, we will be celebrating and honoring the Best of Estero! We will be recognizing and blessing all who have helped with hurricane relief — first responders, teachers, community leaders, elected officials, community foundations, nonprofits — as eight area churches of various faiths and denominations display “Unity in The Community.” We hope you will join your Estero neighbors as we ring in the holiday season and anticipate the ‘Best of’ the New Year!

Our cover story this month offers a fond farewell to Dr. Michael V. Martin as he retires as president of FGCU. As publisher of Estero Life Magazine since 2010, I have had the great privilege to get to know all of the presidents of FGCU, and each one brought their unique talents and personalities to the position. Dr. Martin is the easy-going, extremely approachable “president next door.” His vision has brought out the ‘Best of’ FGCU over these past 5 years. He is a friend of the community, and we will certainly miss him. Godspeed, Dr. Martin!

The Village of Estero is blessed with more than our share of doers and givers. Many of our gated communities have established foundations to enhance the quality if life of our area. One such organization is the Shadow Wood Charitable Foundation, which has given $5 million and counting to area nonprofits. Volunteers have helped build Habitat homes, and community events raise money for many charitable endeavors including scholarships for local students. This abundant giving demonstrates the ‘Best of’ community caring.

One of our readers’ annual favorites, our December issue offers the ‘Best of’ our local dining experiences from throughout the year. We hope you’ve already tried these restaurants and discovered some new favorite dishes. The good news is that several of them are new to the area, so if you missed out the first time, you’ll be reminded why you need to visit. Tell them Estero Life Magazine sent you!

I would like to wish a Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate and a very blessed and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. May God keep you all safe in his loving hands as we conclude the year.

On behalf of my wife, Ann Marie, our editor, Laura Cummings Gates, and our editorial staff and production partners at Presstige Printing, I wish you all a very healthy, happy and promising New Year!


Until next year, we invite you to…

Enjoy the Good Life: Estero Life!!


Gary Israel, President & Publisher 

Estero Life Magazine


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