Frank Cooney Sr., who defied skeptics to develop the Bimini Sands Resort and Marina and spearheaded the development of South Bimini island into the destination it is today, died Wednesday, his family said. He was 73.
“Frank Cooney was not the first developer on South Bimini. He was, however, the first to make a successful go of it,” reads an online remembrance. “Whether you call it vision, determination or just plain stubbornness, Frank had it in spades, and for this Bimini owes him a debt of gratitude.”
The former president of the Buffalo Braves franchise in the National Basketball Association (now the Los Angeles Clippers), Cooney turned his attention to the Bahamas and became a hands-on manager who lived on South Bimini, which was a sparsely populated, undeveloped island when he arrived in the 1980s.
Today, Bimini Sands Resort and Marina, 50 miles from Miami on the Bahamas gateway island of South Bimini, is a year-round resort featuring villas with beach or marina views and a full-service marina accommodating boats larger than 100 feet.
“Visionary entrepreneur, humanitarian, Renaissance man, Frank Cooney Sr. is the man solely responsible for the upswing in eco-tourism awareness and action in South Bimini,” reads a 2013 tribute to Cooney written by travel journalist Sandra Davis, noting that he also was behind Mackey's Sand Bar, Bimini Twist Restaurant, Island Sushi Restaurant, Bimini Nature Trail, The Fountain of Youth and the Pirate's Well site development, in addition to being the major supporter of the Bimini Sands Braves, a local youth championship basketball inter-island league.
“The island of Bimini lost a good man today,” the remembrance said.
Viewing hours are 6 to 8 p.m. today at the Tillman Funeral Home in West Palm Beach, Fla. A service is scheduled there at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.