First person photo essay: Youth springs eternal on Marco Island

Jodi Pree

I’ve always been interested in aging gracefully, not just for vanities sake; but also in the interest of aging with optimum health.

Since moving to Marco Island 15 years ago, I’ve noticed that my friends all age better than their Northern counterparts. Why is it that people in their 70s and beyond remain active and youthful on Marco Island, but back where I’m from (in Illinois) the people just seem older?

After spending time with my Marco friends, I found that their lives were centered on three very specific P’s: priority, play, and passion.


They make it a priority to meet new people and are constantly learning something new; don’t allow their lives to get stagnant in any way; don’t restrict their circles of friends or their ways of thinking.

They also make it a priority to live their happiest lives.

“We are here enjoying life, and many of my friends are no longer here to enjoy it. Birthdays are a gift not a curse. So, get out there and embrace it … the age, the wrinkles. Don’t worry about how you look, just embrace every moment,” said Alexa Denck, age 75.


They take play very seriously. They have set times every day to get out and play with their friends. Whether it be a tee time, tennis time, pickle ball, cycling, you name it; they show up and play.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. - George Bernard Shaw


Many have chosen their later years to finally follow and express their passion. Marco Island is home to many talented artists, authors, and performers who are now doing what they are truly passionate about and even create new careers at the same time their Northern counterparts have decided to stop working.

“To age well, you have to have passion to get through the days. Life can be very ugly, and the passion makes a positive out of the ugly … and it’s a distraction to keep on keeping on,” explains artist Phyllis Pransky, age 76.