INDOMITABLE SPIRIT Nearly 88 months after Jack Fetterman, John Cavanaugh and Quint Studer sat down with then-City Manager Tom Bonfield to discuss a maritime park that would revitalize Pensacola after the destruction of Hurricane Ivan, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos played their first baseball game at the Vince Whibbs, Sr. Community Maritime Park before a standing-room-only crowd.
For most of those seven years, Charles Fairchild, Marty Donovan and C.C. Elebash did their best to kill the project, costing the City of Pensacola millions. Defeat never dampened their vitriol, even though they lost the referendum and saw their subsequent petition drives fail.
Many people have faltered under such a constant barrage of criticism. However, the naysayers and conspiracy nuts didn’t count on the indomitable spirit of a man, who was born nearly completely deaf, who didn’t learn how to read until he was in the third grade, and whose alcoholism drove him to rock bottom before he became a success. Fairchild, Donovan and Elebash didn’t know Quint Studer.
In 2005, Studer did nearly everything they asked, spending hundreds of thousands on planners, polls and public forums. When he jumped over one hurdle, they created another.
Though he was, and is, a nationally known business leader, particularly in hardwiring excellence in culture of health care systems, Fairchild, Donovan and Elebash gleefully attacked Studer’s veracity and character. No lie was too outlandish, no anonymous attack too out of bounds, for these men and their minions. They twisted words and knowingly misstated facts to harm and kill the park.
And illogically, the more concession that Studer made on the Community Maritime Park proposal, the more they attacked him. However, the more they attacked Studer, the more resolute he became.
Fairchild, Donovan and Elebash never understood the will and resolve it took for Studer to go to school every day even though he would be bullied for his speech and hearing impediments or his size; to rebuild his life and completely turn away from alcohol; to take over Baptist Hospital when it had the lowest employee and patient ratings in the region and set the stage for it to win the Malcolm Baldrige award; and to build his company from nothing and see it, too, win the Baldrige award.
This time Fairchild, Donovan and Elebash met a man that would not cower or give into their hate. Nothing with which they hit him was any worse than what he had already faced.
Quint Studer stood resolute, and Pensacola is better for it.