Famous news correspondent settles in on the Suncoast

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CASEY KEY, Fla. – He has interviewed presidents and movie stars. People even stopped him on the street for his autograph. Then suddenly he gave it all up, and now he's your neighbor here on the Suncoast.

At the peak of his career, top NBC Network News correspondent and famous war correspondent Jack Perkins and his wife Mary Jo turned their backs on it all and walked away.

"After 25 years with NBC News, gave up the business, gave up my career, moved to an island off the coast of Maine where she and I the only residents."

His life-changing decision came after a visit with a famous author. "I had never been to Maine before I was assigned to go and do a story with Stephen King out in his summer home in Western Maine."

And there off the coast of Maine, he discovered an uninhabited island he called Moosewood, and they built a home on it. "We had no public utilities. We had a wood stove for heat, very limited heat, solar panels on the roof for electricity."

But there they came to a new understanding of life. "We were learning to understand that the beauties that surrounded us were not the beauties of nature, because nature is but a bunch of commercials for God."

And their lives exploded with joy. "It was learning photography, honing my practice of poetry, it was developing new skills and new interests and new awareness."

When he hosted the biography series on A&E, he commuted from his island home.

He advises others to make their own life-altering changes. “It can be transformative to make a complete change in your life, if you have that opportunity; geographical change, psychological change, you can continue to grow."

But after 13 years on Moosewood Island, multiple cancers struck. "They were all cleared away and that was wonderful, but it let us know it might be prudent to be closer to major medical care."

They sold their island to the National Park Service and moved to Sarasota County. Jack and his wife Mary Jo still live on an island -- this one Casey Key. And that is where he wrote his book Finding Moosewood Finding God. "I love the line a copy writer wrote for the dust jacket of the book. ‘He gave up his life's work and found his life's purpose’.”

He hopes his book helps you find yours.