A colorful Key West icon has left us. His smile, antics and stories are already missed. But we will remember Captain Tony for a very long time.

At age 92, Captain Tony Tarricino had a long life, most of it on this little island. He made every moment count. He sold the bar that is his namesake back in 1989, but often stopped by to cavort with customers, especially the ladies. This is where I met Tony back in 2001.

He would sign T-shirts, posters and pose for pictures with those that stopped by. He always had a story, or quip, to make you smile. They may have been true, or embellished, but that’s OK. He loved the attention of being a local legend. And we loved him for it.

Captain Tony’s health has been dwindling for some time now. He has been in and out of the hospital in Miami for most of this year, and has been seen sporting an oxygen tube on a few occasions. It was sad to see, but Tony never seemed to mind. He always kept smiling.

To the man that gave a young singer/song writer a chance to play at his bar, Jimmy Buffet paid his friend Captain Tony back with a song, “Last Mango in Paris”, and was his campain manager during an election bid as mayor of Key West. After several unsuccessful bids, he finally won the election by 32 votes in 1989.

A procession down Duval Street ended at a packed Greene Street as hundreds of friends and onlookers gathered for a final good bye at the bar that bears Captain Tony’s name. There was a party of life, singing, drinking, and a twenty-one dove salute in Captain Tony’s honor.

There have been many characters in Key West history, but I believe Captain Tony trumps them all. I just hope his legacy isn’t forgotten.

3 Responses to “Farewell Captain Tony”

  1. I just returned home to Rhode Island after my annual visit to Key West for Thanksgiving with my 86 year old Mom. We were sad to hear of Captain Tony’s passing. it is certainly the end of an era. We have fond memories of times we were lucky enough to see Captain Tony at his saloon, always ready to give you a hug and a kiss or to take a picture with you. He was always smiling! We had a toast in his honor at the bar where we shared a drink for the past 14 years since my Dad passed away and we made this a holiday tradition. God Bless Captain Tony and may his soul rest in peace….

  2. I was sad to see the passing of Captin Tony. I first met him when I was 10 or 11, 1966 or 1967 fishing with him several weeks a year. These were some of the best memories of my childhood. I’m sad to see the Key West of my child hood is no longer there. Now as I fish with my children, I wish there was a Captin Tony and great catches of my youth. Everyone should live as long and contribute as much as Captin Tony.

  3. A true ledgend will be missed by all but never forgotten many times escaped to Captain Tony’s to escape from the heat for a cold 1 or more keep the tradition alive in our hearts we all loved him