by Angel Nuñez – Though John was born in the United States of America, he came to San Pedro at an early age and adapted to San Pedro’s lifestyle, traditions and culture and made himself a worthy San Pedrano. He had worked hard in the U.S. and retired early and made San Pedro his retirement home. He and Jeannie, his wife, arrived here with small children and made some more while here. But John was not to be the regular retired American; he got involved, made his contributions, and reaped the fruits of his work in San Pedro.
First thing John did when he arrived in San Pedro was to look and feel like a San Pedrano. He threw away his shoes, jumped into some shorts and sleeveless shirts and set out to make friends, which was an easy task considering his huge smile and pleasant personality. The first thing John needed was a house and he was fortunate to purchase a nice concrete house that belonged to a doctor that was leaving the Island. There he settled, raised his family and Jeannie operated a pre-school from her home. Later on John had the opportunity to purchase a new and better building, and I want you to guess what he did with the old house! Incredible! He donated it to the Catholic Church of Belize. What a heart! What amazing generosity!
The new building that John purchased was the famous Papa Blake House which had been a family treasure for close to one hundred years. John transformed Blake House to Barrier Reef Hotel which catered to mostly British soldiers who vacationed in San Pedro. This in itself was considered an accomplishment because the British soldiers were all “fire and brimstone” or as we say in Belize “hot charcoal”. Later on John and Jeannie opened the Barrier Reef Pizza Place. This went along with Barrier Reef Bar which also enjoyed tremendous success.
Throughout his life in San Pedro, John was engaged in fishing as a sport. Genaro “Crusher” Nunez was his intimate friend and he also assisted him establish the Sea Turtle Gift Shop. John was also dedicated to the San Pedro Catholic Church and he and his wife were in charge of the music production. With all that has been said about John you would think that he was a busy man at work. Never! He hired managers, bartenders, chefs and other personnel to work his plan. John was truly a retired person who assisted a lot of locals to find employment.
John truly left his positive marks and the fruits of his labor. His roots are well buried in San Pedro and will be remembered fondly as a very friendly person, a contributor to the growth of the tourism industry and lately as the Gringo who rode his bicycle down the beach every morning at sunrise. I will miss him stopping to chat with me every morning and with his usual broad smile he would say: “Maestro, we can’t afford to stop moving our old bodies. Let’s go Maestro, hit the road.”
John Bremekamp (+) is truly one of the strong Roots of San Pedro.