Former Mayor Shaver visits town with an eye to the future

Historic City News founder Michael Gold was invited this week to meet former St Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver on a visit that was a mix of business and pleasure. Shaver, now retired, like many Florida retirees, finds that although her life with her two children and granddaughter is bountiful, with hobbies such as photography and appearances as a board player washing in a local group, his daily involvement before leaving the public eye.

The mayor took office a relatively new resident and political neophyte in November 2014. In an upset election that baffled many political pundits, Shaver ousted long-term incumbent Joseph L Boles, Jr. a then defeated opponents to be re-elected mayor in 2016 and again in 2018, on the same campaign platform that “she’s tough and nobody owns her.”

Shaver, who was winning a battle with early-stage breast cancer, had become a strong advocate for self-examination and the importance of early detection. But, in the first months of her third term, she suffered a stroke after her last meeting of the St Augustine Municipal Commission on Monday, February 25, 2019. She was taken to Flagler Hospital and then transferred to Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville for treatment. On March 1, she announced that her condition and treatment regimen required her to step down for the remainder of her term.

She described her recovery over the past three years as “slow but steady”. Knowing and having worked with the mayor during her years in office, the word “slow” seemed a recent addition to her vocabulary. Seeing her current condition, however, I’m delighted to report that she’s quick as a tack, she was traveling without a car, so we walked through the historic district, and she was also well read and interested in the current affairs of the city that I am.

The inevitable elephant in the room, of course, is his plans for St Augustine and his interest in returning to public service. Here I must point out that she plays her cards “close to the vest” – but she doesn’t stray from the table either. We talked about other friends and supporters she also visited this month. It looks like she’s gotten some encouragement from several people I know to have huge circles of influence in our local neighborhoods, so we’ll have to watch and see how that plays out in November.

She still has her sense of humor too. Right after her stroke, she told me she was looking forward to seeing me along the bay very soon or playing her washboard at Mi Casa Café. She brags about her son’s garage band and says he lets her play with them to continue training for her return to the Old Town nightlife.

After lunch at the Columbia restaurant, she handed me the check and her new business card simply introducing herself as “washboard player.” I saw her perform live at a celebration at the Old Jail and one night at the Prohibition Kitchen. I know his repertoire includes appearances at several other renowned local entertainment venues. Who knows? She may need an agent soon.

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