Florida Waterways – “Gravestone for Fishermen”

Florida Waterways
“Gravestones for Fishermen”
By Kevin McCarthy



Gone Fishin sign on a tombstone
Fish on a tombstone
Headstone with family fishing
Fish and deer on a tombstone
An image of death gone fishing with his boney catch on a stringer.
Cremation urn for a fisherman

When fishermen and other sportsmen plan their headstones for after their death, they usually put something of importance to them on the stone, whether words of wisdom, or engravings of fishing/hunting scenes, or even a picture of themselves. Having wandered through dozens of cemeteries in Florida and elsewhere, I have come upon some particularly noteworthy scenes clearly in reference to fishermen.

It might be something as simple as a model of a favorite species of fish, for example a trout or shark or salmon. Some choose to have high-tech laser etchings done of a jumping fish, its species to be determined by individual taste. I found one tombstone of a man who had clearly liked to hunt and fish in his lifetime. His tombstone had a deer incised at one corner, and a jumping fish in the other corner.

Or it might be a generic deer or fish for a hunter/fisherman. The words used in place of “Died” or “Passed on” might be “Gone fishin.” A longer version of that favorite one: “Gone fishing,’ the sign said that hung upon the door. An angel had put it there. God was waiting on the shore.”
A particularly personal engraving on one person’s headstone shows the man fishing with two children, clearly commemorating good times for the family. A cremation urn for a boater/fisherman shows a man in a boat holding up a caught trout.

My children gave me a framed “Fisherman’s Prayer” that hangs on my wall with these words; “God, grant that I may live to fish until my dying day, And, when it comes to my last cast, I then most humbly pray, When in the Lord’s safe landing net I’m peacefully asleep, That in His mercy I be judged As big enough to keep.”

For someone named Fish, word-lovers can have fun with something like this: “Worms are bait for fish/But here’s a certain change: Fish is bait for worms – Isn’t that really strange?”

Some have had placed in their coffin important memorabilia. Ronnie Van Zant (1948 – 1977), who founded the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band, was killed when the plane he was flying in, crashed in Mississippi. His family had his favorite fishing pole placed inside his coffin before he was buried in Jacksonville, Florida.

In the end ,I’ve decided to have my body cremated, the ashes to be spread over the Gulf of Mexico, reminding my descendants to check the direction and force of the wind before scattering me.

Kevin McCarthy, the very much alive and author of “South Florida Waterways” (2013 – available at amazon.com for $7), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com.

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