The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in th Continental United States

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50 Years of Service

During Tuesday’s City Commission, Key West Police Chief Donie Lee and City Manager Jim Scholl recognized Mary Canalejo as the first City employee in our history to have served for 50 years.

Before a packed house, Canalejo modestly accepted the accolades and a standing ovation by staffers and many members of the police department.

Canalejo started in 1968 as secretary to the flamboyant and now infamous Fire Chief Joseph “Bum” Farto, whose disappearance in 1975 -- after a conviction for selling drugs -- has become Key West legend.  

“I think she knows what happened to him,” quipped Lee, “but that’s for another day.”

Canalejo transferred to the police department long before the scandal, however. She has served under 11 chiefs of police. During her tenure, she has been named employee of the year and has earned and received numerous awards and recognitions.

“Mary’s extensive historical knowledge has served as an invaluable asset,” said Lee. “To this day she comes to work with the attitude and work ethic as if it were her first day some 50 years ago. She does so with great professionalism and a great sense of humor.  It is not often that you see an employee who is so dedicated to an organization that they will give 50 years of their life.”

“I can’t think of a better place to work, or more excellent people to work for,” said Canalejo. “That’s why I’ve been here 50 years. And the last ten years have been especially amazing with the leadership of Chief Lee, Capt. Brandenburg and Capt. Torres.”

In addition to a plaque honoring her service, the City presented Canalejo with a shadowbox containing ten challenge coins, each commemorating five year increments in her half century of service.

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In the photo: Chief Donie Lee, Mary Canalejo, City Manager Jim Scholl.