tourists visit Ambergris Caye every year. Some come back, some don't; and
others decide to make San Pedro their permanent home. This week,
The San Pedro Sun
is proud to feature a
person who visited so often, it was only natural he should eventually
reside here, Mr. Jerry Shisler - the proud owner of Jerry's Crab
"Mr. Jerry," as he is known on the island, was
born on September 3rd,
1933 and grew up on a tree farm and nursery in central Ohio. In college,
he majored in Geology and after graduating in 1955, prospected for
uranium in Utah, Arizona and Mexico. He then went to work at a Douglas
Aircraft flight center in the Mojave Desert, testing rocket planes for
Following that, Shisler spent the next four and
a half years in the United States Air Force training to be a pilot, and
learning armament and electronics. During this time he was assigned to
the first base to receive B-52 bomber aircraft, at Castle Air Force Base
in Merced, California. Jerry left the air force, having earned the rank
Over the years, Jerry married and had two
daughters, but divorced in 1989. In the meantime, he also started Outdoor
Advertising Company, a paint dealership and a tool rental business, all
in the state of Indiana.
Jerry then established a custom paint business,
supplying companies like IBM and General Electric. Following this, the
next twelve years of his life were spent selling signs, decals and
displays. In 1972, he started the Cannon Corporation, manufacturing
interior decorative trim parts for automobiles and appliances. He worked
at this company for twenty-six years, until he retired in 1998.
Jerry Shisler first discovered Belize in 1974 through
the Indiana travel club, Ambassadair. He recalls staying on the edge of
town at Paradise Hotel. "You couldn't find anything further north, except
mangroves and mosquitoes," Jerry commented. He explained that, at that
time, the island was nothing compared to what it is now: the beaches were
covered with big balls of black tar and littered with garbage. There were
no vehicles, no televisions, no radios, and the banks were only open one
day every week for two hours.
Having found his "paradise,"
Shisler continued to visit the island for one week out of every year. On
one of his first trips to San Pedro he met Ramon Nuñez of Ramon's Village
Resort. Ramon later suggested that Jerry buy the Pentecostal Church
across the street from his resort entrance. After purchasing the property
in 1984, Shisler constructed apartments, then a gift shop and eventually
a restaurant. Originally leased out as "Duke's Place," it was Belize's
first theme restaurant filled with John Wayne memorabilia. Following a
subsequent lease ("Island Cuisine") and then the flurry of Hurricane
Keith, Jerry assumed management of the restaurant himself and "Jerry's
Crab Shack" was born, a business which he currently maintains.
Although he was enjoying retirement, "Mr. Jerry"
soon realized that something was missing in his life so, in 1998, he
invited his high school sweetheart to visit San Pedro. Separated some
forty-five years before, she had left college to pursue a career on the
Broadway stage while Jerry finished school and then enlisted in the air
force. A year after their fateful reunion on "La Isla Bonita," Jerry and
Pat were married.
Jerry Shisler considers himself a lucky man not
only to have found a new life, but also renewed love, in paradise.
Although technically "retired," he continues to provide housing,
employment and business opportunities to the many who have welcomed him
into their lives, and into "Our Community."
San Pedro Sun, August 14, 2003