Tribute to Fonzie

Written in 2004 by Joe.

Fonzie was a great friend to me; he and I shared a lot of good times. He always put a smile on my face when I was feeling down. He like Sean and I like to chase the girls. Any way he will be deeply missed by all of us. I can remember a time when I wanted to play with him and my mom said that he was a left handed Dolphin, and that if I wanted to feed him I had to use my left hand to motivate me to use it. I wanted to feed him so bad that I learned to use my left hand. When I watched my mom work with the kids I use to tell her I was proud of what had come out of me working with Fonzie. He was great with the kids. A lot of kids loved him. Fonzie and I had a lot more in common than people thought because he had a heart problem just like me. I will miss Fonzie a lot, but I will always remember the things that he taught me and he will be in my heart forever.”

Joe Hoagland

I never thought what would come from that moment would change so many lives—-
With hope and courage in our hearts, Island Dolphin Care began. As most of you know, IDC has grown from that day to a world renowned program that helps children and families worldwide. Long ago I had promised Fonzie that I would help him in his life – to be happy. We all at IDC and Dolphins Plus provided him with the greatest life. He loved his children – those that needed to giggle the most, he embraced. He was jamming; I had never seen him happier than this last year – playing with the children, helping all of us celebrate life- Yesterday, March 11, 2004 Fonzie left our world- I have never been sadder – He changed my life as well as so many others- he brought joy and laughter- that is what we learned from him and were able through his experience to teach others- Today we celebrate his life and celebrate that which we cannot change.

What is most ironic – is what we have learned about Fonzie from his necropsy-the preliminary report showed that he, like Joe, was also born with a heart defect. He died happy and fulfilled- Joe, who came to him in 1990, also gave to Fonzie in return what he took – we never knew how much the two of them actually shared in common. Joe said they were bonded together as best friends and they truly were. Until Joe showed up on the scene Fonzie was the tough guy – Joe brought out the best of Fonzie – he taught us he was tender and kind and giving. Joe gave Fonzie purpose and Fonzie brought us new purpose in our life and brought us joy again.

It was an honor to be his friend and to have had the opportunity to work with him and all of the children that he was able to play with and love. We will continue in the work that he began and as I promised him, his wisdom will carry us and Island Dolphin Care forward forever—-He brought me laughter, hope and courage.

Fonzie is survived by many wives, three children and one grandchild and the thousands of us lucky enough to have known him.

As a perpetual tribute to his life’s work, a new Island Dolphin Care facility rises in 2004 above the waters where Fonzie brought hope and joy to each one of his special friends. Was there a more beloved dolphin in the entire world?
We are so sorry to hear about your loss of Fonzie. He was very special and he helped so many people. We are very lucky to have known him.
With Love from The Sapp Family and Grandma Jane
I read your letter, we are very sad that Fonzie passed away. Often we look the video from the last year. Andrea is walking with a trainer, her eyes are little Stars, it is so wonderful. Deena I miss you so much.
Bye, Bye Love Birgit and Andrea
Today I have reading this sad news. We are so sorry to hear about Fonzie’s passing. We all loved this beautiful big boy more than we can say. The website tribute to him is beautiful. I have just logged on to see for any construction updates und other news und was so most sad to read this news about Fonzie. When I told this to Christian an Fränzi they had cried for a long time. Our children Christian and Fränzi and also my husband an me will always have a special place for Fonzie in our hearts. His memory will always be with us.
We feel truly blessed that we have had the opportunity to meet Fonzie and Squirt in July 2003.
Please know that all our thoughts are with you. Lots of Love and Hugs
Hanni, Ruedi, Christian and Fränzi from Switzerland
I thank you God for most this amazing by E.E..Cummings
I thank you God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky: and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes. (I who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
How should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any— lifted from the no of all nothing–lifted from the no of all nothing–human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(Now the ears of my ears awake and not the eyes of my eyes are opened)
For Fonzie, A true friend and free spirit
We understand fully how devastated you must be at the death of Fonzie and we all feel very sad at your loss. We would like to cheer you up and celebrate the work of Fonzie. On Fonzie’s website you mentioned how he crought smiles to people’s faces so we are sending you our smiles. Please give Squirt a special hug from us-she must be missing her friend. Lots of love, Class 1&2 and all staff Mere Oaks School
Dear Fonzie, I miss you. Only three days and I have take you to my heart.You are my friend. You help me and I so thank you very much I know you can see all the children now; all your friends and I know you are well. I can see a smile in your face. I will remember you forever. Ich hab dich lieb und meine Mama auch (“I love you and so does my mom”)
April 1, 2004
“To let you know I care and wish I caused sooth the empty place inside your heart.. the place where tears are born” I wish for you “strength” the memories are locked in time.

We who choose to surround ourselves
with lives even more temporary than our own,
live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory
as the only certain immortality,
never fully understanding
the necessary plan
– Irving Townsend
“The Once Again Prince”

Dolphin Art by Tursi
Dolphin Research Center
GrassyKey, Florida

All of your flippered, furred, feathered and footed friends at DRC wanted you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Fonzie is a legend to us all. I know how heartbreaking it is to lose such a dear friend
With Love, Jayne & Mandy
Dolphins possess a spirit that touches deep within our hearts. One only has to spend a short time with these magnificent creatures to understand the beauty they hold within. Reading the passages from those whose lives Fonzie has touched brings tears to my eyes. He, together with an amazing team of staff, children, and families, has started an endeavor that will continue to change the lives of these individuals. My thoughts are with you.
We were so sad to hear about Fonzie. He will truly be missed by children around the world. We feel so privileged and honored to have known and loved Fonzie. We have lost a part of our family. We will never forget the first time Nicole got into the water and Fonzie swam to her right side. That was the first time she used her right hand after surgery. We were amazed at how playful Fonzie was with Kathy and Nicole, then the next minute he was as gentle as a mouse with the next child that was really fragile. Fonzie knew all of us and he knew how to take care of us. Our hearts will always be filled with the joy and love Fonzie brought us. Today, we know he is still watching over us from heaven.We love and miss all of you! We are so sorry for the loss of everyone’s friend, Fonzie.
Love, Mike, Debbie, Kathy &Nicole
We are so sad about Fonzie- He was such a gift to so many. I know his spirit will stay with all of you.
See you very soon, Love, Sandy, Ray, Hillary, Matt & Jack
As I was out of town this past week, I was unaware of Fonzie’s passing. I just wanted to express my sorrow to you and your family. I know this is a very personal loss.
Just a note to say that we are thinking of you! The tribute to Fonzie was beautiful. I sent it to several people. My heart is with you! I look forward to seeing you. Please try to take care! God Bless!
Love & Hugs Beth & Logan
Through tears I’m writing to tell you all how sorry I am for your loss. It must be so painful to walk by the water and not get your morning greeting from Fonzie. I know how deeply you all love him and have always appreciated the respect you have for all of the dolphins.
I wanted to share our favorite Fonzie memory. Although Alyssa belonged to Squirt for the best week of her life, Fonzie put her over the top on her first day at IDC. Alyssa had always loved dolphins. When she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and given weeks to live I wondered how we would ever make a way for her to fill her life dream of swimming with a dolphin. We had planned that for her 10th birthday which was 5 months away. She made a miraculous recovery and lived 7 months before going to Heaven in Sept. During her good time you made a way for her to spend a WEEK with a dolphin. (Above and beyond anything we could have imagined) We always think that time was a gift just so that experience could take place for her and all of us. The first day was so overwhelming. Seeing her live such a dream was indescribable. At the end of her session, Fonzie came over to see her and she had 2 dolphins for a few minutes. Again, above and beyond anything we could have imagined. She never stopped talking about that. Loving mischief as she did, Fonzie breaking the rules to come over to see her just thrilled her soul! I think she felt like they had a “thing” for her too.
We love you all and think about you all of the time. I pray that you will find comfort in this painful time. Selfishly, I have to admit that imagining Alyssa’s face when Fonzie swims up to play with her in Heaven brings joy.
We hope to see you soon,
Beth, Matt, Cara & Amanda
All the love that you have known for Fonzie remains in your heart today, And, the precious memories will always be a loving reminder that he is just away. May knowing that you’re in the hearts and thoughts of those who care about you help to ease the sorrow at this difficult time. With deepest sympathy and sadness. Fonzie was magnificent!
The card says it best-I was such a skeptic and will always be grateful to Fonzie for making Ash’s hope see life and teaching me about faith and trust and the best example of God’s work with Rhianna.
Best Always, Maryann and Ashley
I was saddened to hear of Fonzie making his transition. I know he was a treasure to your family. Because of you, he was able to touch the lives of so many people. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Blessings Chris
from nicola,andrew and jessy .of u.k,jessy came to you for d.a.t last sepember,and we had a great time and we have continued with the program chriss set for her and we have seen huge improvments in jessy,thank you all soo much,also we are all very upset about fonzie,it was an honour to have met and played with him he was a magnificant creature with such charm and we all fell in love with him,thank you for us meeting him.lots of love and deepest sympathy.from us all xxxx
i am so sorry about fonzie..and i would like something to say, but i can not find the right words..although i am very upset about fonzie`s death i am very happy, that i had the chance to meet him last summer..i loved it to sit in the morning in front of the basin of Fonzie and Squirt..they made me laugh and enjoy my life..althoug I was “working” with Squirt, I felt very close to Fonzie, but I don`t know was a feeling like he was looking right into my soul, and he accepted me the way I am, with all my faults..I am very glad, that I was able to enjoy his nearness two weeks along..
with love, dani
my deepest sympothy goes out to all you at Island Dolphin Care. I know how much he ment to all of you and how instrumental he was in the beginning of your success. He will trully be missed by all those whose spirtis that he touched.
I am so saddened to see your pain and feel so helpless in not being able to alleviate that pain – only time can soften that terrible anguish. There are no words that can mitigate the hurt but I want you to take comfort in knowing that you have positively touched so many lives. You have made the difference between a world of darkness in young, innocent lives and despair in the hearts of adults that bore those lives and given them instead a world of hope and joy they never dreamt could become a reality. And Fonzie was your magic wand!
This earth and this planet is a world of challenge. As we go through this passage in time and we toil in our daily lives, the ups and downs we must confront in complete circles or spectrums, from one extreme to another dealing with family life, our professional endeavors, health and all other issues – to which you were no exception, dealing with critical issues in your own family life – and yet, not only have you defeated a grave ailment in your son’s young life but achieved a victorious win for so many others. Imagine changing the lives of thousands upon thousands of people of all ages! If no one has told you because sometimes emotions overshadow expressions, I want to tell you now: YOU ARE A FAIRY TALE PRINCESS, A SUPERWOMAN AND SUPERHERO in the story book ending for all of these people.
Please take care of yourself, put a smile back in your face and a twinkle of joy in that wonderful heart and continue to work your magic; there are still thousands more waiting – the name of the wand may change because of the mysteries of life we have not yet uncovered but it will always be with you.
I am so lucky to have met you and to have you as my friend.
Love, Alice
Don’t cry for the dolphin that life has set free,
A beautiful gray dolphin forever to be.
Don’t cry for the dolphin now in God’s hands,
As he jumps & he swims to a heavenly band,
He was ours as a gift, but never to keep,
As he closed his eyes, forever to sleep.
His spirit unbound, on his silver fluke he flys,
A beautiful gray dolphin against the blue sky.
Look uo into heaven, you’ll see him above,
The Fonzie we lost, the Fonzie we loved.
His fluke & dorsal fin flowing, he swims through time,
He was never yours, he was never mine.
Don’t cry for Fonzie, he’ll be back someday,
When our time has come, he will show us the way.
Do you hear that soft dolphin sound close to your ear ?
Don’t cry for the dolphin, Love the one’s that are here.
In Memory Of Fonzie
March 11, 2004
Forever in my Heart
We are sorry to hear of your loss as we will miss Fonzie ourselves. We are thankful for the time we were able to spend with the Fonz and know even though he is not with us anymore he helped accomplish so many things.
Love all our PACE Girls

Eula said “Fon-zie!” this morning! made me cry… she was ecstatic… we want to come back and swim and visit! I wonder how and when… We somehow did it before so anything is possible… Sending our love to you and all the dolphins and all!
Love, Julia
I have had the hardest time finding the words to share with you on the loss of your beloved Fonzie. The website tribute to him is beautiful and the press release on his life with you lets so many people who never met him know what a wonderful life he had with you and how much joy he gave to all the children and adults who were so fortunate to meet him. I want to share with you a Special Memory verse “When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a Treasure”. And what a Beloved Treasure of memories he was!
My love to all of you. Paula
“In honor of your memories, in sadness for your loss, many thoughts are with you today. Perhaps the enclosed could beused for a stone in the garden or a Fonzie plaque in the new building. We mourn your (our) loss.”
Love, Susan, Missy, Tiffany and Ted
“He changed the world”
I am so sorry to hear about Fonzie. He was such a dear friend (and colleague) to us all. He will be greatly missed, though I know his beautiful spirit will live on in our hearts and memories forever.
With thoughts and hugs, Julie
We were so sorry to hear the news that Fonzie had passed away, he wasn’t just a best friend, but such a large part of the family too. we miss him, so I daren’t think how much you all do. Coping must be very difficult at this time, but you are all such special people that you will, and I know that all you friends from all over the world will be sending their love to you, as we do.
Take care, with much love, Maggie and Jan, Andrew, Nick and Rich and Pru
I am writing to say how sad I am to hear the news about Fonzie. I have just logged on to see for any construction updates and was most sad to read the news. Even though Abbie worked with Squirt on both occasions Fonzie was always next door. I will fondly look through our old videos to see Fonzie. It must have been terrible for you all. Please all look after yourselves and hope to see you all soon. Take care
Love Sarah, Spencer, Abbie and Sadie
Words cannot fill the void you must be feeling about Fonzie. I wish there was something I could add to ease your loss. My heart goes out to each and everyone Fonzie touched. I share this loss with you. He was one of life’s beautiful gifts.
Love and sympathy, Nan
Our deepest sympathy, what a loss! I had to silently cry when I read the sad news! We feel with you all and are mourning from this end! Feel hugged and loved! You are all very special to us. Robie is sad too, I had to cheer him up….Sending all our positive energy to give you strength for this hard time.
The Littles from Vienna, Austria
I was so sorry to hear of your loss. Fonzie, I know, was a family member to all of you and many of the families he came in contact with over the years! Tana and I and our friends who have enjoyed his personality send our love your way as always.
Sammy and Tana
I know that you brightened Fonzie’s life with family, friendships, love and laughter as much as he did yours. I thought first to send flowers but decided I would like to make a donation to IDC in Fonzie’s memory. You are all in my heart and thoughts.
Love Kat
Hi everyone. We were so sorry to hear about Fonzie’s passing. We told Randy and he ran off to his room, hid his face in his pillow and began to cry. Soon thereafter, he was laughing as we talked about the wonderful times that Randy spent with Fonzie in the water. Fonzie will surely be missed by so many! We are grateful that Randy had the opportunity to swim with Fonzie and to be a recipient of his wonderful gifts. We are thinking of you all and Fonzie!
Love, Randy, Warren and Nina
P.S. Randy says that he misses everyone, especially Fonzie, and sends lots of hugs and kisses.
“ ‘A Butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam. And for a brief moment, its glory and beauty belong to our world…but then it flies on again, and though we wish it could have stayed, we feel so lucky to have seen it.’ Fonzie did this for so many, My thoughts and prayers are with you all!”
The Wild Women On the Water wish we could ease the pain you are feeling from the passing of your Beloved Fonzie.
Our thoughts and hearts are with you
The news about the passing of our magnificent friend Fonzie is such a great sadness to everyone who had the honor of meeting him and falling in love with him.
With deepest sympathy, Donna
“It never occurred to me that something like this would happen. Island Dolphin Care was supposed to be this perpetual fountain of happiness and hope. I don’t mean to minimize anybody’s labors with my fantasized view of things, but each time we visited it was like a vacation in a wonderland; sadness just doesn’t belong there.
Those at IDC may feel the pain of Fonzie’s passing more sharply than I, but I do share their grief. And I want to salute Fonzie for helping to start the treasure that is Island Dolphin Care.
The ripples from this loss will never overtake the waves of love, joy, and hope Fonzie created during his life.
Thank you, Fonzie.”
Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with ya’ll in this troubling time… The multiple people that Fonzie touched are our memories for life. Love ya and Miss ya’ll
Dale, Andrea, Dean, Leah
Hi everyone. We were so sad to hear the news about Fonzie. You must all be feeling very sad too except to say we all have to think of the joy he brought to so many children and there families and the experiences they had that they would not have had without him. We feel that we have just heard that a person had died and yet whilst we were with you James did not even work with Fonzie. It just goes to show how special all the dolphins are and how highly we have come to think of them. James is well and very happy. He has a lot of change ahead as he has to change schools this summer. I am not sure how he is going to cope with that – nor me for that matter.
Anyway I will keep you posted. Love to you all and Squirt
From James and family XX
I am so sorry to hear from your loss! My heart breaks for you. Please know that we think of you.
Love – Michael
So very sorry to hear about Fonzie, a unique and special animal. My family cherishes the times we have had with Fonzie and the whole Island Dolphin family. We will never forget our wonderful experiences swimming with the dolphins! God Bless all of you.
Love,Tom,Ginny,Clarice and Courtney
I do not know, what to write I was shocked, when I read that Fonzie had died. I am so sad and I want you to know, that all my thoughts are with you, Joe, your family and everybody at IDC. I will never forget Fonzie and I am really glad, that I met him. Steffi asked me to tell, that she is with you all too. I give you a huge hug.
Lots of love, Katja
I cannot even believe the sad news about Fonzie. I am so upset about it and am just so glad that I was able to meet him, watch him react with the children and swim with him. He was awesome and an amazing dolphin. Say hello and sorry to everyone at IDC and Dolphins Plus. Love to you!! BRIE XXOO
We were so devastated to hear that Fonzie had left our world and write this through a cloud of tears…We were lucky enough to meet Fonzie and Squirt in October 2003 and hold those special memories so close to our heart. Fonzie we thank you for being so special and feel truly blessed to have been a part of your wonderful life. Your love was greater than we’d ever felt before, a love that we brought back and shared with other special children. You brought so much joy and happiness into so many lives and made children’s dreams come true. We thank you for dedicating your life to children like Haydn and helping them to realize their abilities. For this Fonzie we are eternally grateful.
It’s time now to celebrate your life, you will be sadly missed by all who knew you but will live on in the wonderful memories of us all.
God bless you Fonzie and all at I.D.C
Love Haydn, Josh, Wendy and Tony
Wigan U.K
Just wanted to let you know that you and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers. I was so sad to hear about Fonzie. But I also know he will always be a big part of your family. His wonderful memories will give you the strength and guidance to reach all your wonderful goals and dreams.
With the greatest respect for all of you, Patti
I just read about Fonzie and I am truly sorry for your loss. I know that he held a special place in your lives as ours–Katie still has her pics of Fonzie and her on her dresser. We still look upon the experience with Fonzie and IDC as one of the greatest in our lives and I still attribute Katie’s emergent language that year in part to her experience with the dolphins. Please know that I am thinking of you always and you all are in our prayers! I know that Fonzie was truly lucky to have become a family member of yours!
Take care, Laurie, Oscar, Ryan, Logan, Katie and Rebecca
Looking back on all the special moments with Fonzie it seems unreal to me still. The most unique thing about him is the amount of lives he touched with his beautiful heart and sense of humor. He sure did like to kiss everyone, sometimes talking at the same time. Last year when I was at school, I kept two pictures of him and I running a therapy session in my planning book. The thing that stands out in the pictures is everyone
laughing. Myself, Deena next to me on the platform, Chris in the water with a child, and Fonzie laughing too. Thank you Fonzie for sharing some great times with all of us, you will always be fondly remembered. My love to all you at IDC and D+, Bets
In my dreams
Before we came here for the first time, I had a dream. I saw a picture -my son is kissing a dolphin. I figured my son will have a good time with the dolphins. But I couldn’t imagine what a dolphin can do for us. So did Fonzie. My son is an autist. When he met Fonzie, Marius was 7 years old and had 17 kilos weight and he never told us about his needs (hungry, thirsty, cold, warm, etc.) Chris his therapist asked us what our aims for the therapy are and I answered: More personality, and perhaps more weight. He looked at me and he said: There are some things, a dolphin could not change. After the two weeks therapy Marius didn’t need his glasses. He started to say what he needs, he opened his mind to other persons and he realized many things at the first time. Now he is much more self-confident. And all over the time he was a very lucky boy. After we got home we checked his weight and he got 2 kilos more. Look what Fonzie could do! Some of these things loosed a little at home but never Fonzie’s mission: YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING, IF YOU WANT TO! Sometimes when I was standing near Fonzie, I had the feeling that he were talking to me. He gave me pictures of a hopeful future. Fonzie came closer to me and then I felt the emotions and saw it in my mind. This is now my vision. I will ever take these pictures with me – in memorial of the Great Fonzie. I didn’t believe in it before we started. Fonzie gave us so much energy to try things we never thought about before and he gave us an eternal happy child. Only Fonzie gave us wings to fly. Today I was standing near to Squirt. She said to me: Let Fonzie go, I will help you. And so will Sarah, Jessica, Bella and Tracy do. They are so lovely dolphin girls. Every girl with her own personality. They will support Deena and Pete to go on with Fonzie’s dream.
Forever in love, Ina
Mom of Marius
March, 17th 2004
All about Fonzie! Fonzie took Marius’ fear. Fonzie made Marius laugh. Fonzie often came and looked after him, when Marius walked by the pool. Fonzie had such a big heart for all his human kids. Fonzie let Marius feel that he loves him, and that made Marius so happy. Fonzie really enjoyed playing with Marius in the water and because of that truly feelings Marius enjoyed that too. And no one can really pretend feelings to a child. Fonzie always was aware about what precious time he gave to the children he swam with, though he had a very fulfilling and happy life. Fonzie has gone in a special peaceful way. Fonzie knew that this will not end with his passing away. Now look at Fonzie’s family and friends. Squirt, Sarah, Bella, Tracy and Jessica. Their future is standing in the forever shining light of Fonzie. This week after Fonzie has gone so recently, I can watch them holding Fonzie’s light so high. They are so eager continuing what Fonzie had started years ago. My wishes are that this light will shine in all our hearts forever.
Keep going IDC! I am happy that my son Marius had the chance to meet such a great personality like Fonzie.
Frank-Jens (dad of Marius, 8 years old)
We of course were so sorry to hear the news, but even with the tears it is obvious the incredible love and energy he has given to you (and us all…) to be able to whip together the web site, tribute, etc. We are blessed to have been a small part of it, and hope to be back again. Please give my family’s love and hugs to all.
We are very saddened to hear of Fonzie’s passing. We feel privileged to have been able to meet him last November. We will never forget our time at Island Dolphin Care with Fonzie. Our son Douglas does not get to enjoy vacations the same way other children do. Island Dolphin Care and Fonzie made it possible for him, and the whole family to have a fulfilling, fun, and worthwhile experience. God bless you all. We are praying for your comfort at this time of loss. Love, Doug, Maria, Douglas and Daniel
It is with great sadness that we read the news of Fonzie’s passing. Please accept our heartfelt condolences. Fonzie was nothing short of a miracle worker. His gentle presence and unconditional love, first experienced by Joe and Deena, soon was felt by many. Fonzie touched so many lives. Our family feels privileged to be counted among those who were able to experience Fonzie’s love, friendship, and his special brand of magic. Fonzie will be greatly missed. We were extremely fortunate to have known Fonzie. We we thrilled when we arrived at Island Dolphin Care and learned our twin sons, Jacob and Joshua, would be working directly with Fonzie. Both boys loved it so much. Joshua is afraid of all animals (even our cats and small dog) but he took to Fonzie almost immediately. Jacob was afraid of the water but Fonzie coaxed him in and off they went! It’s hard to believe that our wonderful Fonzie is no longer with us. But he had other work to attend to now. He is helping all the children in heaven who have been waiting for him.
We love you Fonzie. May you rest in peace.
With great affection, Michael, Lori, Jacob, Joshua
Greenville, NC
Fonzie, Fonzie, if it weren’t for you, Island Dolphin Care would not be. So many lives you have touched. You just don’t know how I love to hear my son say “Mama” which he never did before we came to IDC. We are so grateful for what you have done for Joe, Deena and Peter and for hundreds and hundreds of others. You have touched lives. So many children and parents. The tribute to you is not just on this website and with these words that all have written, but in the lives that live on and those who will come after. Your tribute and memory will live on in the beautiful facility that is being built. In the therapists, interns and all who have worked at IDC. If it weren’t for you? Well, there are no what if’s, because you were and you are and will always be in our hearts. We are grateful.
Love, Tracy and Bubba
please accept our sincerest condolences — we were so sorry to hear about fonzie. you must take great comfort in knowing how many children (and adults!) he helped throughout his life. Thinking of you, and remembering our wonderful visit with you a few years back.
all our love, missy & tiffany
I heard about Fonzie passing away, and now, I find myself crying…The impact of meeting Fonzie was bigger than I could ever have imagined.Thank you for being an everlasting part of our lives, we will never forget you. We wish everyone at IDC all the strength they need,
Bram, Anouk, Bart and Kokki from The Netherlands
we think for you, we are crying and we must not stop laughing. You were our Great Luck and we have to say so much Thanks to you – Fonzie bye bye Sometimes the World isn´t correct
We Love you and you´ll be all times in our Memory
Jessica, Julian, Ulrike & Heinz
Ted told me about Fonzie’s passing. I am so sorry. What a wonderful friend he was.
I have such fond memories of our visit to Island Dolphin Care and continue to be impressed with your work. Fonzie will continue to live in the hearts of all he helped.
Best, Tiffany
You’ll keep brightening the lives of the children who played with you, from their memories, and you’ll keep playing with children who are not here any more. You’ll be with me forever, I got you in my heart.
I am so sorry to hear about Fonzie. He was truly the most wonderful dolphin in the world, and I will never forget him. He touched so many lives and brought so much joy to so many.
It is only two weeks ago my sister and me were standing and talking to Fonzie, and I was telling her about how wonderful a dolphin he was…I can’t believe that next time I walk across the bridge I will not see Fonzie pop up to say hi…But even though I am so sad that he is not here anymore, I know that he is in a better place with kids that are no longer with us anymore either, and they are swimming in the clouds and jumping over rainbows.
Fonzie will always be in my heart.
Love always, Rikke
I don’t cry easily, but your tribute to Fonzie overwhelmed me…I feel truly blessed that I have had the opportunity to know you …and be involved with Island Dolphin Therapy. Thanks to Fonzie, Joe and so many other children have been given back pieces of their lives that may have been lost forever. But Fonzie wasn’t just for “special” kids……he loved everyone he met. One of the highlights of my life was the day that I met Fonzie and he gave me a big KISS!!! Thinking of you…….Love, Judy
Oh we are thinking of Fonzie and singing Fonzie songs and dreaming with Fonzie and sending our love and sympathy to all of you especially Deanna!!!!
Love, Eula Viva and family
I just wanted to send you an e-mail to say that I am so sorry about Fonzie’s death. All of you must be feeling so lost without him, especially you Joe. I don’t know if anyone outside could truly understand how important Fonzie was to everyone he touched. I know that he will forever be in all of our hearts as he was one amazing dolphin.
Lots of Love and Hugs, Tiffany
Dear Fonz
I remember the first time I had the chance to get in the water with you. Your place, your home, and your “welcome” was so warm and friendly. I was very careful, so excited and totaly relaxed at the same time. I would love to know what you felt when I got into your world!After I got out of the water that day, it took me about half an hour to go through an emotional level I never had before. Sitting by the dock it took me away, I cryed. Not that I was sad, not at all! I was deeply touched and felt so much there! During the hole time I was there. I was alive as you can be!Thank you Fonzie from the dept of my heart.I miss that feeling. I miss you Fonz.
Mathias from Germany
Dear friends at IDC !! I am so sad,hearing that Fonzie passed away. Seems like losing a member of the family. We had the joy and plaesure to know him and he will always stay in our hearts.
Love,kisses and a tiiiiight hug,please take care, Jasmin and Tina
I was so saddened to hear about Fonzie. Although I never had the fortune to meet him personally, I know he touched the life of one of my students who visited with him this summer (I am a special needs teacher.) Thank you so much for what you are doing. My student’s mother commented just the other day the wonderful changes she has seen in him since his encounter with your organization this summer. You have a wonderful program and I wish you much success and happiness for the future.
I am so sorry to hear about Fonzie. He seemed to be an important part of your family and I can only imagine what it has been like to loss him. He was a gift to your family.
The pictures show how much he loved having his picture taken. No matter what angle he was to the camera, it looked like he was looking into the camera!
Take care. Jimmy
We just received your email and went to look at the Tribute page for Fonzie. We are so saddened by the loss of Fonzie. Yet we feel very privileged to have been a part of Fonzie’s life. He has blessed us with some special gifts. Since Chuckie had did his therapy this past summer, he has been more independent and trying to speak much more. He has truly come so far since his therapy sessions. How else do you explain all of this, but to say Fonzie blessed us. We will hold onto those very special therapy days with Fonzie. “One thing we want to share, the day we came home back to Lititz, we were unpacking, and Chuckie was being very quiet, we started to call Chuckie to see where he was, he kept saying ma… ma… so we went up to find that Chuckie had unpacked his whole suitcase clothes, toys, left over diapers… just standing there as we were looking for the items and in mis-belief that Chuckie put the things all away. There were tears, for Chuckie was not capable to put things away normally without being prompted, and yet this day he put all of the items in his suitcase away.” This was our biggest gift after being home. We are very thankful that we have the videos, and many pictures, and of course the memories. Fonzie will be so greatly missed. We’ll be back again to visit you all at IDC.
Thanks for the memories Fonzie:
Love ya, Chuckie, Bev, Chuck & Katie
Lititz, PA
I was honored to be at Dolphins Plus in April and May of 1997. I swam with Jeannie, Alphonse, and Squirt……..but the best of all was sitting on the walkway beside Fonzie !!! He stayed right below me and carried on like he was the only dolphin in the lagoon !!! He would look into my eyes and I felt as though he actually knew me. I felt so much love coming from him, I never got the great opportunity to swim with him but what he and I shared, in just being together, in those visits we had, I will keep our special moments tucked deep within my heart until the day I die. He left a great impact in my life and I am honored to have met Fonzie,,,,,,,,,,,,he was “THE MAGNIFICIANT DOLPHIN !!! ” No one could ever forget this funny clown! My heart is so very sad with his passing and I say to him: swim free my friend, I love you.
With a sadden heart, Donna
Butler, Pa
What shocking news about Fonzie!! i am so sad! i quickly called jay and he could not believe it and went right on the website! How lucky we feel to have met Fonzie and i am so glad that we got to see him in January. He was wonderful, he touched so many hearts and put smiles on children and everyone he came in contact with. Fonzie was so loved and admired for all that he did for the “special” children who came to IDC. Our Brie loved him and enjoyed working and swimming with him so much! Thank you for the memories that she will treasure forever. Our thoughts are with everyone @ Island Dolphin Care.
Love, Paulette
Just today at work I was showing our pictures from 1993 of our swim with the dolphins. I arrived home tonight to receive the e-mail of Fonzie. This” angel of the deep” touched our souls forever. Thank you for this gift. Your are all in our thoughts.
Love Debbie & Meghann
My heart sank when I read this. What a wonderful animal Fonzie was. He brought so much happiness to everyone’s life that he touched. I send you my condolences, and pray that you will not have too much pain through this tragedy.
Sincerely, Chris
So sorry to hear about Fonzie’s death…we were all very sad to hear the news. He truely lives on in spirit and his memory will guide everyone to the next phase in IDC’s development.
With sympathy,
Gary, Tere, Rafael and Elena
Chuck and I send our sorrow and condolences. I can’t imagine how hard this is for your family. Sherri and Chuck
Fonzie wil be missed from our visits to IDC as he was always the first dolphin to greet you with his pink tummy telling us we were welcome to his world.
Sorry for your and all your visitors loss he epitomised what IDC stands for love care and hope
love Craig Emily Angela Stephen
We are so very sorry to hear of the sad news that Fonzie passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Fonzie will always have a special place in our hearts and memories. Thinking of you and wishing we could be there to comfort you.
Beth, John,Ross, &Barb
Anyway….I just came home (and you have to know its really late in Germany right now), but I opened up your website.! Sorry to hear that Fonzie passed away….he was such a wonderful animal-which made a lot of people happy! Hope he has a fantastic time in Dolphin-heaven 🙂
Yours, Steffi
My sympathies on the loss of Fonzie. I only met him that one day I was there, but there was a strong connection. I had hoped to visit with him in the water this spring. He was a very talented therapist and blessed the lives of many people, not the least of whom were all of you! And I know that you all graced his life also and gave it deep meaning.
Hockley, TX
“I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. It must be hard, but reading Joe’s
thoughts makes it apparent that Fonzie played an incredible part in the
lives of so many. It just proves the awesome power and magic of all animals,
especially the dolphin”
Best Wishes,
Michael and Elizabeth
Lake Oswego, Oregon
I am once again sorry for your loss. Fonzie was larger than life and he will never be forgotten. I wanted to get down there this week, but I am sick, so I don’t want you guys to be having a tough time and get sick because of me. The tribute is beautiful. I imagine that Sara did much or most of it and you did a great job Sara, at a really tough time. I remember many of the kids in the pictures even though I have been out of it for 2 years. It is nice to see the feedback from the families, as their lives have all been touched by Fonzie. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. I hope to be able to get there and give you a hug in person soon.
Love, Christy
“We are saddened to hear that Fonzie died. He gave much happiness to many people, including us. Please consider this contribution in honor of him and all the good work you are doing.”
Sincerely, Karen and Tom
“We are saddened by the news of Fonzie’s Death. Wish I could be with you at this time, but know that our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
It is a sad day for us in the fact we know Cory and Fonzie’s friendship has come to an end. We will always be thankful to that big bundle of gray. For His Love, His Joy, His Wet Dolphin Kisses!!! His effect on Cory and his life will never go unnoticed! Our time with him will never be forgotten.
We are praying strength to you as you continue to do what needs to be done to bring hope and joy to the lives of young “Special” Children, and their families all over the world.
Words could never tell you how special you all are to us and the special place we hold for you in hearts. We send a fond goodbye to our special friend, and pray our blessings on all of you.
Continue courageously for Cory and all the children that need your love and care.”
As Always
Dolphin Hugs and Kisses!!!!
Love, Boby, Susie and Cory
” I wanted to write to tell you how sorry I am to hear about Fonzie. He meant a lot, not only to you, but to that whole, huge circle of souls scattered all over the world who you brought together down there in that great place you’ve built.
Fonzie was more than just a therapy dolphin. He was a symbol to a lot of people. The good that he did over the years radiates outward to every corner of the globe and to all the kids that he swam with. He helped so many people. I
wonder if he knew that. If you guys are planning any kind of memorial event, please let me know. I’d love to attend if I can.
I’ll miss Fonzie.”
Deepest condolences. . .
“I am not really sure what to say. I am so sorry and wish that I was there to help in some way. Even if it was just to throw my arms around you. I have had trouble getting Fonzie, Island Dolphin Care and you out of my mind. Fonzie sure did touch many people’s lives. He truly was a hero. He will sadly be missed, but lives on in the hearts of those he touched. Imagine how many people that is. You have one child, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. It is truly awesome. Not to mention he is known throughout the world.
Something very strange happened to me. Amy purchased a tail pendant last year for me for Christmas. It is Fonzie’s. I haven’t really thought about it since Christmas as I don’t change necklaces very often. However, I really didn’t have an appropriate chain but….I chose one. I put it on for the first time that day. It probably won’t come off as my last necklace was on for 7 years. But I couldn’t believe it when Pete finally got a hold of me. I don’t know if it means anything, but, I got the strangest feeling that morning.
Well… Fonzie jumps into his Rainbow Ocean his spirit is still present. His spirit will be alive forever. This doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult, but continue to rely on his spiritual strength and he will always be right there with you. He was extraordinary and did endless work for those in need. I love you. I just wish that I could be there. Logan sends his love. We decided that Pete needed to give you 110 kisses a day. Please let me know if I can do anything. Peace.”
Lot of Love and Hugs, Beth
” We are so sorry and send the biggest hugs to everyone. I know he made many people’s lives richer and happier. My children, Mitchell, Thomas, And Rebecca “Bex” will always have a special place for him in their hearts.
I know there isn’t much I can say to help the ache and loss. However, we wanted to let you know we are missing him in Connecticut, as many people around the world will be. Not too many people, much less Mammals can say they made so many loving friends. He was all goodness and spunk. His memory will be with us always.”
Holly, Jamie, Mitchell, Thomas, Bex
” I’m so very sorry. What a loss to all of you at Island Dolphin Care, Hoagland family and to us who were touched by Fonzie. I hope you are OK. You will be in my prayer. Mark is also terribly sorry. He may write to you a note, too.
Love…we will be thinking of you”.
“. I am so sorry to hear about Fonzie – I know what a special and important part of the family he was. I know how inspiring he was to Joe and saw first hand how other children just took to him. It is a great loss. Please extend my sympathy to Joe.”
” I am sorry to hear of our loss! I will definitely keep you, your family, and Island Dolphin Care in my thoughts and prayers. Try to keep your chin up!”
” I feel with you in this days of deep sadness. Nobody is able to know how much you lost by loosing Fonzie, but it is as with so much things in life: we should not think about what we list but about what we had. For you this means you had the chance to meet Fonzie, to see how much he could help Joe, you had the opportunity and the ability to change your life completely because of him and to choose to work with dolphins and special children. He gave you the present to go a new way and he accompanied you as long as he could. He perhpas felt now you are able to go on without his guidance and then retired because he was to tired to go on. Poor friend, life is not often easy for us but I go on hoping it makes sense… Think of you more than ever this days.
See you soon.”
“On behalf of the entire team here at Dolphin Human Therapy I’d like to offer our deepest condolences on the loss of Fonzie. What a wonderful animal. We are truly so sorry to hear that he passed away today. Many of us here knew him, worked with him and had fond memories of him. Many of our children have great memories and moments to remember because of him. Fonzie has truly touched many people’s hearts from around the world. It was wonderful to hear parents and children alike talk about Fonzie. He will truly be missed.
You all enrich people’s lives on a daily basis. His memory will last a lifetime in many people’s lives. We pray for your strength in this time of mourning, and we hope that eventually as time passes, when you think of Fonzie it will bring a smile to your face instead of the tears that are with all of us now. ”
Christina & Diane
” Sherry just told me about Fonzie. I am so sorry. He will be missed so very much. Send my condolenses to the entire Island Dolphin family and especiallly to Joe.”
“Roger and I were shocked to say the least, about fonzie passing. We are deeply saddened by your loss. We send our hearts and sympathy out to everyone who’s lives were touched by him. He was a great gift to this world and his presence will live on.”
Terri and Roger at quickfish creations
” I am so so sorry for Fonzie’s loss. You are right, I did love him…I do love him. I wish that there was something that I could do right now to help. How is Deena taking it? I am concerned for her. I know that we all loved Fonzie but with Deena it was different. He was her buddy and her confidant. I remember her telling me that she would always talk to Fonzie about anything that was bothering her. I can not even imagine what she is going through.
How are you doing and the rest of the gang?? Thank you so much for letting me know about Fonzie. It really means alot to me. I know that I am not apart of the IDC team any more but know that I love each and everyone of you and think of you all often…especially now. You all, and the dolphins, have a place in my heart always. You can take the girl out of IDC, but you can’t take the IDC out of the girl.
I can not believe that all this time Fonzie had a heart condition too…..he and Joe really were one of a kind!! I am a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason and it is no surprise that God thought it would be a good idea for Joe and Fonzie to become part of each other’s lives. Together with Deena and all of you, Joe and Fonzie have created something that will last forever. You guys were the first…and obviously in my opinion the best!! I am so sad that Fonzie is gone but he will never be gone from our hearts.
I miss you guys and I will be thinking of you often.”
Love, Kristen
” I just wanted to say how sad I am that we lost Fonzie. He was amazing, and he will truly be missed by Sarah and the family. I believe that there is a very special place in heaven for him, and he will watch down over you and IDC forever.
Love to you all.”
Ginny, Sarah. Keith and Edward
“Pete called me this morning and told me about Fonzie. I was heartsick to
hear about his loss, and can’t imagine what your family and Dolphins Plus are going through with his
loss. Fonzie was a special gift to all he encountered and we were lucky to have him in our lives. Please give
my loving thoughts to Joeand everyone at IDC and Dolphins Plus.”
Love ya, Kathy
“I just heard the terrible news. It doesn’t seem real. I can not imagine coming to IDC with no Fonzie so your pain must be unbearable just now.
Please know you are in my thoughts and although I cannot say I know how you feel…I can tell you I am here for you. ”
“So sorry, I know how much Fonzie meant to everyone, give all my regards and sympathy.”

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