Sunday, August 20, 2006
Tragedy Strikes A True Craftsman, and a Wonderful Person
For the past 20 or so weeks I have had the pleasure to work with a true craftsman, Billy "Boatman" Thomas. As these weeks have passed, I believe that we had become friends that shared alot in common. Last night, Saturday August 19th, 2006 Billy died in a tragic boating accident. He will be missed by so many. My sincerest sympathy go out to his wife and family.
Never before have I seen a person that was so well liked by the Decatur boating community. Billy had become a daily fixture in the lives of oh so many people that frequented the "A Dock" at Decatur's Riverwalk Marina. His charming and friendly personality greeted many who stopped by to comment, compliment or ask questions about the amazing restoration job he was doing on my wooden trawler. He reminded me that there are still people out there with an authentic passion for doing a job right, and never taking a short cut. Whether he was putting in an 80 hour work week during our generation's hottest Summer on record, or being willing to help other boaters with thier boat questions and maintainance problems, Billy always left me impressed with the fact that I was working alongside a truly great man. He was honest as well as hard working, talented, extremely intelligent and most of all kind and humble.
It is hard for me to admit, but I am often very skeptical of people, and sometimes focus on their shortcomings rather than seeing the good in them. With Billy Thomas, all I saw was a real geniune person that was on a very good path in life. He knew what he wanted, and he was willing to do the difficult things required to get it. All this, in addition to the fact that he was the most knowledgeable boatman, makes his death even more difficult to fathom. From all that I have been told at this time, he died after an accident aboard his vessel "Lady Lynn" resulting from Carbon Monoxide poisoning and subsequent injuries associated with his exposure to this silent, invisible killer. More information will be posted as permission from his family is granted. For now, let us all say a prayer for Billy, his wife and his family.