Gary, the turkey who arrived at Lake Morton earlier this year and brought amusement and levity in a time of pandemic uncertainty, has died. Gary’s age was unknown, as was the cause of death.

Gary’s remains were found in Lake Morton on Sunday by nearby residents who went looking for the gobbler after not seeing Gary for several days.

Final arrangements were handled by the Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department. Bob Donahay, who heads the department, said the death could likely be attributed to natural causes as there were no signs of predator intervention.

Survivors include the many Lakeland residents who found joy in the unlikely September appearance of Gary at a lake known for its regal swans and other water fowl, as well as the many who participated in an election to determine a name for the new lake dweller.

In lieu of flowers, mourners are asked to keep Lake Morton clean and to feed the remaining birds foods that are healthy for them — cut seedless grapes, cooked rice, birdseed, peas, corn, oats, chopped lettuce — instead of bread.

Condolences may be expressed on Facebook, site of many discussions and debates about Gary and the deceased’s other possible names.

Memorials: At least one family placed flowers today on the turkey holiday display on Lake Morton near the foot of Palmetto Street.

A turkey honoring Gary replaced a swan this year in one of the lighted holiday displays placed around Lake Morton by the Lake Morton Neighborhood Association.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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  1. Yeah man seriously. We residents in the area live there because we like the area and the birds that come with it. We all adopted Gary and I know many enjoyed seeing her as we drove by Lake Morton. Give us a break man. It’s been a tough year for us all and if a wild turkey hanging out with ducks made us happy let us at least enjoy it.

  2. Enjoy it all you want. Never intimated you should not or cannot. However, a this is a supposed “news” site. Writing an obituary for a deceased turkey seems like a bit much.

    And you refer to we residents in the area…..that might just include this poster

  3. Thank you for this much deserved obituary.
    It’s been a year since Gary first appeared. To honor Gary’s memory, we will be celebrating Gary for “Gary Day” this Sunday, September 26, 2021 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on the shore of Lake Morton across from the Lakeland Public Library.
    There will be Gary art, Gary music and Gary in lights!

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