Special memories of our co-founder
Mr. Michael Fortner
On May 23, 1993 Michael died at the young age of 35.
He was a collector…
This aptitude for connecting with others, prepared him to be a generous and understanding employer.
He became a true friend to all who worked with him at Suwannee Medical Personnel. He enjoyed people and reviled in their stories. He was involved as well as interested and comprised nicknames for each. He knew everyone’s children, spouses and even their pets.
In Suwannee’s infancy, when Michael and his brother, Chris, staffed, paid, marketed, and did all the work of ten people; employees found themselves wanting to go work when Michael called. He never had to introduce himself for his voice was unique. It was personable. And it was honest.
In the days before cell communication, he would stand at a pay phone booth, holding a huge pink scheduling pad with telephone numbers scribbled in the margins.
He called people at all times of the night and day, but no one seemed to mind once they knew it was Michael and he needed them to work. (maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in just an hour). They went because Michael asked them to. It was as simple as that ! a relationship built upon mutual trust and his ability to connect with others.
Michael was long and lean. ‘He was movie-star handsome’! He was gregarious yet introverted. This trait made him a dichotomy but never a paradox.
Other than people, his favorite collections included pristine vintage vinyl records, predominately all of the “Mama’s and Papa’s” albums and other rock groups from the ’70’s. He was the national vice-president of the Cass Elliot fan club. He said there wasn’t much of an election however, because he was the only one in the running.
He collected historical Lyco-bans , which are photographic celluloid strips stored in the National Archives in Washington D.C.His research focused on WWII. His academic interests centered around German history. He was a photographer. He captured every important happening with the lens of his camera. He took pictures of everyone, no employee of Suwannee was exempt from his large 35 millimeter with the long lens, nor was any family member.
The special thing about his photography is he made everyone look like they wished they looked. His heart found the best features in people and he captured those with his camera.
Without his camera he still had the rare gift of bringing out the best of everyone he came in contact with. People strove to please Michael, just because. His pleasure in everyone and everything was contagious.
He was an avid collector of books and his personal library extensive. He possessed the discerning taste of a librarian. His books were well thumbed, but well kept. He stacked them by title and author. They spanned the bookshelves in his house.
He always carried around a book, just in case he had a minute to read as he waited somewhere.
He also carried a large checkbook with him. He was as open with this checkbook as he was with his heart. If someone needed gas, to borrow a car, their electric bill paid or their children babysat so they could work, Michael would find a way to help.
He liked to give gifts. Each gift was well chosen. Each card dated and the reason for the card noted in his fine handwriting. These gifts and cards were meant to be kept as mementos of gratitude or expressions of empathy.
He was a letter writer. He sent thank-you notes. He was a detail person. His thoughtfulness was paramount.
Michael Fortner was a virtuous man. Filled with character and integrity, his word was his promise and his promises were always kept.
As a virtuous man he determined his actions for the right reasons and at the right time.
Michael loved practical jokes but his warmth and self-effacing humor usually turned the joke on himself.
In his business, his chief marketing skill was his honesty and his wit. He created trust with Suwannee’s clients by always keeping them abreast and aware of any situation, good or bad.
This forthright talent made people want to do business with Michael, they could be assured that he would go the extra mile to help.
He liked to sleep on the couch, the telephone in one hand, with his schedule of Nurses and their whereabouts lying on his chest. He did this until the day he died.
His working hours had no limits. He never expected his employees to do anything he would not do himself.
He always made time for employees, and his clients and yet still had so much time available to be the best friend, a devoted son, an interested uncle, and a full-time brother.
He is still remembered with a great love by all who knew him.
He enjoyed every hour of every day.