Dr. Mary Jelks passed away on March 27, 2018.
From New College of Florida:
Dr. Mary Jelks earned the nickname "Myakka Mary" for the amount of time and money she has spent in service to the Myakka river and park. In 1961, Dr. Jelks moved to Sarasota with her husband, Allen to start their pediatric allergy practice. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Jelks has collected daily pollen counts from her home for over forty years. She founded the Friends of the Myakka in 1993 and has been an active member of many different environmental groups in the area. In 1994 Dr. Jelks and her family formed the Jelks Family Foundation, an organization with a focus on conservation of natural resources, helping the county to purchase the 614-acre Jelks Preserve along the Myakka River. She was deeply committed to Sarasota, which she believed "is a view of paradise."
From Sarasota magazine:
"Every morning, despite rain, arthritis and a broken back, Dr. Mary Jelks, a 74-year-old retired pediatrician, climbs a ladder to the roof of her modest home on Clematis Street to collect samples for meteorologists and universities throughout the state. She also receives samples by mail from Miami and Tallahassee. (“They have tremendously interesting spores up there,” she says.) One of only six certified pollen counters in the state, she’s now training a national network of counters who, she hopes, will be just as dazzled as she is by pollen and mold.
Raised on an Illinois farm surrounded by allergens, Jelks is allergic to nothing. Her passion for spores was born from a pediatric practice fraught with chronically ill, tiny patients."