A Call to Serve – Henry Rosenthal

Henry moved to the Keys from Maryland over 50 years ago with little money but a great vision. It wasn’t long before he was the largest employer in Monroe County through his energy, his forethought, his fairness, and his keen understanding and love of people. Not all who know and love Henry today realize that for almost 30 years Henry owned and personally ran a multitude of local businesses… the Green Turtle Restaurant and Cannery, Whale Harbor, Marker 88… some of the Keys most legendary restaurants.

He knew how to hire the right help and how to invest in community! It was all “hands on” for Henry. He was often found ladling soup into the cans at the Green Turtle Cannery. At one time Henry had a taxi business – the Green Turtle Cab Company– primarily for the local advertising it provided. And occasionally, if the driver needed time off, Henry drove the cab.

For those who never ate at Henry Rosenthal’s Green Turtle, what an experience that was. Many nights you’d sit on the porch waiting in a longline for a table – and it was well worth it. Great food, great entertainment, and Henry’s congenial welcome… always with a story, a history lesson, or a magic trick for the kids. No telling what famous athlete, actor, or politician would be sitting near you.

To Henry, the vitality of this community was critical. He worked endless hours through Rotary, the Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other community organizations and government agencies to help Islamorada and its people do better. Henry just retired after 5 years as president of Leadership Monroe, an organization whose mission is to build constructive relationships among Florida Keys leaders.

Who to better teach about leadership than Henry, a man with a long history of leading the way. Not only was Henry an amazing businessman, restauranteur, and community leader, he was quite a performer… a hypnotist and a mentalist entertaining under the name, Bastille. For 15 years he was under contract with Carnival Cruise Lines, flying to their destinations several days a month for three quick shows and then back home to run his Islamorada restaurants.

Henry has entertained in 22 foreign countries and was the first “westerner” to perform in EastBerlin after the wall came down in 1989. He has been a headliner in Miami, Las Vegas and Branson. But Islamorada is lucky that Henry always comes back home to the town he loves dearly – Islamorada.

You can see Henry most Sundays in the back pew at Matecumbe United Methodist Church. He loves getting to church early and sitting where he can see everyone. He loves when people walk past and tap him on the shoulder to greet him. In the 1980s Henry’s father spent winters in Islamorada and attended the Methodist Church – always dressing up in his suit and tie for Sunday services.

Fifteen years ago, Henry sold his restaurants to focus on philanthropy, civic endeavors, and entertainment. Just recently Henry entered the November race for a seat on the Islamorada Village Council. How lucky we all would be to have a man with his integrity, diplomacy, and insight helping to lead our local government!

Paid For By Henry Rosenthal, For Islamorada Village Council, Seat #4


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