He died in June of 2017, at the age of ninety-five. His funeral was attended by his large family, friends, and his adoring fans, of which he had many. His name was Art Daniels, but those who knew and loved him called him, "Daddy Art."
Daddy Art spent his life on the water as an oysterman and crabber but he is best known for his participation in the annual Skipjack races that take place on his tiny island. Until his illness, he never missed a race in over 50 years. To his credit, he won 9 races and placed in many more.
I was privileged to ride along on his Skipjack during races on several occasions for the purpose of taking photos. He called me his, "Georgia Peach," and though dozens of members of the press and photographers, as well as accomplished 'hobby' sailors, begged to be onboard his boat during the annual races, he never declined me a seat.
His boat was a patchwork of bits and pieces of wood and was long overdue for a new coat of paint. One marina owner told me Daddy Art would fish out pieces of wood he would see floating in the water and save them for his, "boat patching."
When I first met him at his dock he beckoned me to follow him down a rickety plank that had so many missing and rotten boards, I had to tiptoe around them while he floated over them like a ballet dancer, taking amusement in my landlubber status.
I was always humbled in Daddy Art's presence. He was legendary long before I met him. Now that he's gone, I know his legend will live on for generations to come, not only on his island but spread around the world by the many people who met and loved him.
I was never one for favoring any one photo. I have met and photographed many famous people, and the only photo I have separated from any of my newspaper assignments is the one of Daddy Art holding a photo of his younger self. I gave him a copy and he signed my copy, which I proudly had framed and still display today.
Daddy Art lived such a good life there is no doubt he is happily sailing again in heaven, and hopefully, he has been furnished with a brand new Skipjack, although if I think about it, that would never do. I'm sure he has requested and received an exact replica of his old boat.
Happy sailing, Daddy Art. Be sure and save a seat for me. I'm not planning on coming anytime soon, but I know you will remember your Georgia Peach when she arrives.