CLEARWATER — Jerry and Melody Figurski, longtime community leaders and Buccaneers fanatics, were named Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater during the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's 91st annual meeting Wednesday.
The couple received Clearwater's highest award (and green blazers) for decades of service to agencies like UPARC, Morton Plant Mease and the American Cancer Society.
Like past Mr./Mrs. Clearwaters, named annually since 1958, the Figurskis attended the chamber's sold-out banquet at the Sheraton Sand Key unaware of the impending hoopla.
Holly Duncan, president and CEO of the Morton Plant Mease Foundation, reserved a seat at her table for the couple, her dear friends. Another friend even told the Figurskis to secretly prepare speeches honoring Duncan.
"They are truly the most authentic, caring and compassionate people it has been my privilege to know," Duncan said in presenting the awards.
The couple's son, David Figurski, flew from Denver with his wife, Melissa, to surprise them on stage. Melody's mother, Jane Wordsworth, 86, joined the group as the couple got a standing ovation.
"I am shaking!" Melody exclaimed. "It's a real honor. If there's something warmer than the weather in Clearwater, it's the people."
Jerry, 68, has worked four decades as an attorney. Formerly president of the Clearwater Bar Association, he has served on Clearwater's Community Development Board and is the board president of UPARC, where the couple's 40-year-old daughter, Tracy, is a client.
A two-time cancer survivor, Melody, 69, has volunteered for the American Cancer Society, Morton Plant Mease and the Clearwater-Dunedin Junior League, where she was president. She is also an UPARC officer.