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For Monte Lazarus, the most important focus in retirement came in doing good for others and playing a role in making his newly adopted community a better place to which to live.

Lazarus, 85, who died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer, moved here in 1986 after a successful career as both an attorney and employee of the federal government.

“Monte cared deeply for those around him and those in need,” said Patrick Neal, one of Lazarus’ closest friends. They served as each other’s best men in their individual weddings and also shared a law practice together.

The family will hold a public celebration of life to honor Lazarus on Sunday, Oct. 18, from 4-6 p.m. at the Rose History Auditorium, 180 S. Heathwood Drive.

Lazarus was no stranger to government. He had served on the Civil Aeronautics Board, rising to the post of vice chairman. One of his final tasks as vice chairman came in writing the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which would eventually deregulate the industry.

Marco Island was a favorite vacation spot prior to his moving here after retiring from United Airlines as senior vice president for external relations. That job reported directly to the president and CEO of United and involved a wide range of activities, including a great deal of lobbying in Washington, D.C.

Although Lazarus had initially opposed cityhood for Marco Island, he was one of the first to jump in and help in the early organization of the fledgling community. He served on many of the boards and special committees over the years.

He most recently stepped aside from his duties as chairman of the Planning Advisory Board to become one of three special magistrates to deal with city code-violation issues. He held his first hearing under thae new process in August and received wide-ranging praise for his handling of matters before him.

“Although we were on opposite sides of the national political spectrum, it was his keen sense of honor and veracity of thought which would bind us together,” said Jack Patterson, a longtime friend and fellow planning board member.

“I grew to appreciate Monte’s passion and dedication to our community when I served with him on the planning board. That dedication and level of caring will

be sorely missed,” said Marco Island City Council member Bob Brown.

In later years, nothing brought more happiness to Monte and his wife of 11 years, Sandi Bonney Lazarus, than their frequent cruise vacations with their friends Debra and Dick Shanahan.

“For fun Monte set up his own little tour company called Lazari Tours Unincorporated. He had shirts made up and set up the itinerary for each of our adventures,” said Dick Shanahan. “I don’t know how much time he spent on doing all the preplanning but it made each trip more pleasurable than the last because of the detail of his planning.”

“I think that our trip to Paris was his favorite, said Debra Shanahan. “He was stationed there in the U.S. Army and he just loved that city, as did we when he finished taking us around to all the special venues he had previously visited.”

One of the other joys in Lazarus’ life was enjoying the three children and grandchildren that he and Sandi shared.

“His pride and love for them could be seen in his eyes when they would visit,” said Patterson.

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