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Publisher’s Point: Lucy Chabot Reed
It’s the day after the Chairman’s Gala and I find myself missing Whale.
The event wasn’t even something Capt. Paul “Whale” Weakley would have enjoyed. It was a fancy affair with a masquerade theme. I wore a black gown. David, chairman of the Marine Industry Cares Foundation this year, wore a tuxedo.
But Whale would have supported it nonetheless because the money it raises helps kids learn about the marine industry. He died in 2015.
Whale was a sailor, a true seafarer, and a teacher. And he was my friend. I can’t recall the first time we met; it seems like I’ve always known him. When we started The Triton in 2004, he was quick to participate and support us. Whenever there was a cause or fundraiser, he was there with not only his own money, but the strong-armed bills of multiple friends, near and far.
He single-handedly funded The Triton marine scholarship at Broward College at our annual Poker Run, less interested in playing poker than in handing over $100 bills — dozens of them — and in riding his vintage motorcycles.
He was quick to share his love of sailing with anyone who wanted to learn. When he heard my then-young niece Darcy had taken up sailing, he gave her and my daughter two two-hour lessons on marlinspike seamanship. And that hand guard for lefties? He gave that to my little leftie daughter, Kenna.
At one of our first anniversary parties, watching me juggle playing hostess and mommy, he offered to take 4-year-old Kenna for a walk down the river, a half-hour adventure that would leave them both smitten and in a “love affair” that would last the rest of his life. Whenever he was in town, he would bring a bag of the best gummy bears to a Triton Networking event for her, asking only for a hug in return. When she was in her first play, he was the first friend outside the family that she wanted to invite.
Even though Whale likely wouldn’t have come to the Chairman’s Gala, he would have supported it. He would have bought tickets for others to attend, and he would have bid up raffle items he didn’t necessarily need or want. He would have signed up to volunteer with MICF’s summer camp to teach kids how to tie a knot, splice a line, and whip the bitter end.
And it makes me smile to think he would have been proud of Kenna, now a teenager who has taken up sailing, and her third-place finish in her latest regatta. He would have talked endlessly with her about how to tighten her start and when, precisely, to tack so the next guy gets bad air.
I miss Whale today. I miss his charity and his generosity. And I miss his spirit, that kid inside him that made everyone who was comfortable in their own skin want to be around him. It occurs to me now, two years after he’s gone, that he was a role model for me. I’ve tried to behave generously when faced with a silent auction for charity (much to my husband’s chagrin) and I’ve tried to teach kids what I know.
I have a feeling I will miss Whale for the rest of my life, especially when I see a kid who would love to learn more.