The best ones are remembered not so much for the colors, the clouds, or the light, but for the people that you got to share them with at the time.
On July 25th, 2010 there was a very special sunset in Boca Grande Pass.
That was the day that Ed “Poppa” Seale caught and released the last tarpon he would ever catch, at 91 years young.
With his health obviously starting to decline, Ed had still been quick to accept an invitation from a friend to go tarpon fishing.
His poor health was not about to deny him that day.I
t was an afternoon “hill tide” and the weather was good. The Pass was busy with many local fishermen and guides out for some late season tarpon fishing.
That day the bite was hot and Ed was on his game. In a feat that would challenge even the healthiest teenager, he caught and released two tarpon and then hooked his third and final fish just minutes before sunset.
While the hard falling tide carried the fight down from the hill with that last fish, past the phosphate dock and on into the hole, it seemed that every boat that knew him, and even most that didn't, shouted out encouragement as he went by.
Ed just waved and smiled at all the shouts as he worked to release that fish past all those boats, making it look so easy and routine, even at such an advanced age.
It seems now, on some reflection, that with all the shouts, hoots and hollering going on, everybody out there that evening somehow sensed it was special and just wanted to be a part of the moment. Just happy to share the experience with him as he sat on the bow of that little flats boat fighting his final tarpon.
That’s the sort of thing friends do, and Ed had many friends.
When “Poppa” Seale, passed away this past week at the age of 93, the community not only lost a friend, we also lost a mentor.
As Boca Grande developed during the 70s, 80s and 90s, Ed was one of those leaders in the community who made a positive impact on the growth and personality of the island. One of those people that you can look back on and point to and say ... he helped make the island special. He made a difference.
So many were first introduced to the island's relaxed and comfortable lifestyle by the tone this polite and friendly soul set for them.
His good friend, Capt. Jackie Bylaska, described Ed best and in the simplest of terms, saying, “he was a true southern gentleman.”
Even though the sun has set on Capt. Ed Seale, we all know the sunsets will continue.
Some will be special, and some will even be memorable, but only a few are destined to be exceptional.
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