Islamorada Philanthropists Ken and Dee Meeks Gift $1 Million to the Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation
Foundation Executive Director Jill Miranda Baker, Ken and Dee Meeks, and Foundation President Rich Russell celebrate the unveiling of the new sign on the exterior of the building, which houses the Keys History & Discovery Center. (Photo Credit Frank and Inge Hawkins)

Islamorada, FL – Long-time Islamorada residents and community supporters, Ken and Dee Meeks, have donated $1 million to the Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, which operates the Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada.

Their previous support to the museum includes underwriting the cost of the permanent exhibit about Indian Key, which includes a model of the island circa 1840, artifacts from the island and a kiosk detailing its unique history, as well as sponsoring a traveling exhibit.

“We are elated and honored by their generosity,” said Foundation Board President Rich Russell. “Ken and Dee have been major difference makers for four decades in our community. If not for Ken and his bank loans, many local businesses would not have been started. His work boosted Islamorada’s economy in the mid-1970s and continued though the Keys beyond his retirement nearly 20 years ago. Their donation is making a world of difference to the future of the Keys History & Discovery Center.”

The donation is being recognized at the Discovery Center’s entrance with a sign stating, Keys History & Discovery Center Proudly Presented By Ken and Dee Meeks. The building sign created in Meeks’ honor was unveiled on Saturday, May 13, Ken’s 90th birthday, before more than 120 guests, including museum members, supporters, and Upper Keys Rotarians. Ken Meeks has been a member of the Rotary Club since 1977 and served as president in 1979. He was named an honorary member in 2015 and continues to attend weekly meetings. Ken and Dee Meek’s donation also will be memorialized on the Discovery Center’s forthcoming road sign. To further honor the donation, a bust of Ken Meeks and his portrait from the former The Island Bank will be housed in the main lobby along with a monitor sharing the Meeks’ personal stories.

More than 120 members of the Keys History & Discovery Center and the Upper Keys Rotary Club join together to celebrate the $1 million donation from Ken and Dee Meeks. The evening also celebrated Ken Meeks 90th birthday. (Photo Credit Frank and Inge Hawkins)

“Preserving and sharing the history of the Upper Keys is very important to our community,” said Ken Meeks. “I am pleased and honored to be able to support the efforts of the Key History & Discovery Center. They’ve come a long way in three short years and it is Dee and mine’s desire that this museum grows and lasts for decades to come.”

The Discovery Center is a museum, theater and gift shop, offering lessons in Keys history from the First People/Indians, Spanish Treasure Fleets, Pirates and Wreckers, history of fishing in the Keys, as well as stories of Flagler’s Railway and the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. A lecture series, Keys History & Discovery Center Presents, is offered from October through May.

The Discovery Center is located at MM 82 on the property of the Islander Resort, and is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $12. Admission for seniors is $10 and children 13-under are free. Annual memberships with a range of benefits are available. For more information, call 305-922-2237 or visit our website at