A Monroe County commissioner and well-known Florida Keys businessman has died after a battle with COVID-19, friends confirmed.
Commissioner Mike Forster, owner of Mangrove Mike's Cafe, died early Monday, his longtime friend, Rev. Tony Hammon, confirmed.
Forster had been in the intensive care unit at Baptist Health in Kendall since last month.
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Forster’s friends told NBC 6 he was vaccinated, tried to stay healthy, and do what public health officials ask.
Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron paid tribute to her "beloved colleague" in a statement Monday.
"Mike passionately gave his all to the Florida Keys. He fed everyone with food, with love, with encouragement, with positive words, and with hugs. He considered us all one Keys family.," the mayor's statement read. "Mike never said, ‘we can’t do it,’ but always ‘let’s figure out how we can.’ He passionately fought for all to have a quality of life to sustain living in the Keys with housing, fair wages, and protection of the environment. He showed his love for the Keys environment and people with all of his heart and soul. Rest in Peace, my friend."
Forster, who has lived in the Keys since 1990, previously served as mayor and councilman of the Village of Islamorada.
When the pandemic shut down restaurants in the Florida Keys — including Mangrove Mike’s — Forster's restaurant became the area’s food distributor through Farm Share.
"He’s Mr. Islamorada. I was trying to think of a way to describe Mike. There’s not a need that he doesn’t address," Hammon said last month.