At 82, Alexander Doska has a lifetime of memories.
Growing up in Czechoslovakia. Surviving the war. Coming to America in 1949. Marrying Rose in 1969. And Everglades National Park.
“I know every trail and rock in that park,” he says. “Every winter for 10 years, my wife and I rented a room at the Flamingo Lodge & Resort. It was 42 miles west of Homestead, facing the ocean. Every year from 1974 to 1984, sometime between January and March, we went for a week.”
He pauses for a moment, and when he speaks, you can hear 41 years of married love in his voice.
“Room 124 was our favorite.”
When they retired in 1984, the Doskas moved from Brooklyn to Stuart, and Jonathan Dickinson State Park became their beauty spot. In 1996, they relocated to Orange City, and the Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge won their affection.
“Growing up in Czechoslovakia, my dad and I used to hike the Alps, so all my life we were interested in natural beauty,” he says. “Both my parents were interested, and that is where I learned it.”
Rose Doska died on Sept. 14, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. She was 79, and when Mr. Doska looked for a way to remember his wife, he thought of the Everglades Foundation. He sent a gift in her name.
“I leave it up to the Foundation, what to do with the money,” he says. “They know best.”
Room 124 is gone now. The Flamingo Lodge was leveled by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. But Alexander Doska still has fond memories of the park’s natural beauty and the time he spent there with Rose.
“We went on boat rides back then,” he recalls. “Rose loved the resort, the pool and the ocean nearby, and I did a lot of hiking; Bear Lake Trail, Snake Bight Trail.”
“Oh, I’m telling you, we loved that place, and it’s made me passionate for preserving the Everglades.”