Ron Book remembers friendship with Jimmy Buffett: ‘I’ll never forget the laughs we shared’
Image via Ron Book.

Jimmy Buffett Ron Book
The two began a decades-long friendship forged in an early 1980s effort to safeguard endangered manatees.

As word of Jimmy Buffett’s death spread Saturday in news and on social media, many Floridians whose lives the singer-songwriter touched joined a chorus of those honoring him.

Prominent South Florida-based lobbyist Ron Book, who befriended Buffett in the early 1980s and later worked on his behalf, is adding his voice to the mix.

The two met when Book was working with former Gov. Bob Graham and Buffett, an environmental conservationist, sought more governmental action to protect endangered manatees.

The result was the 1981 establishment of the Save the Manatees Committee — a precursor today’s Save the Manatees Club — for which Buffett served as Chair.

Book told the Washington Post, “It was after a (1980) concert, and Graham told Jimmy to let him know if there was ever anything he could do for him. Jimmy had a list of 10 things, and at the top was saving the manatees.”

Buffett was a client of Book’s from 1983-1987, during which he helped the musician launch his “Caribbean Soul” clothing line. During that stretch, the two became personal friends.

(L-R) Now-Sen. Lauren Book, Chase Book, Alonzo Mourning, Jimmy Buffett and Ron Book. Image via Ron Book.

In a written message to Florida Politics, Book said working with Buffett and Graham on manatee protections was “one of the highlights of” his career and shared befitting memory of the late bard.

“Jimmy was more than a legendary musician, he was a powerful advocate, and I was fortunate to count him as a client-turned-friend,” he said. “One night in 1983, Jimmy slept over at my home and made a round of cheeseburgers (in paradise!) at 3 a.m.! I’ll never forget the laughs we shared or his unselfish passion for protecting the environment, and saving endangered manatees in particular.

“Jimmy will be missed by his family, friends, Parrotheads, manatees, the environment, and all of Florida. R.I.P., my friend — you made a difference and left this place better than you found it. Enjoy 5:00.”

Buffett died Sept. 1 from Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare form of skin cancer that grows aggressively and spreads quickly to other parts of the body. Book began treatment for throat cancer in May 2022.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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