Losing a friend is never easy. Losing them in the prime of their life is much tougher. We tend to spend hours remembering the good times, the adventures, and imagining all they would have accomplished if given more years.
Today, July 20, 2012 is the first anniversary of Lucas Smith’s tragic death. Charter boat Osprey first mate, Carly Donohue died with him in the crash of his ultralight “flying boat.”
Many people of all ages called Lucas friend. He simply had a way of connecting with people of all ages, races, or walks of life. On the day of his memorial, funeral home owner Sandy Stuhr surveyed the overflow crowd of mourners and told me it was the largest crowd that had ever attended a service at the chapel. I didn’t doubt it; wherever Lucas went, he was surrounded by friends. He was always there to lend a helping hand. In her remarks at the service, his daughter, Ellie told us not to feel sorry for the family for losing him; feel sorry for those who never knew him.
I first met Lucas when our family lived on Sullivan’s Island, where he grew up. Back then, he was just another of my children’s friends. When my wife, Carolyn and I returned to the Lowcountry after ten years in Raleigh, Lucas and I reconnected, this time as friends. I will forever treasure the Wild Wings Cafe and Richard’s lunches we had when he wanted to “pick my brain,” or simply to “catch up.”
Moments after he bought the Osprey on eBay, my cell phone rang. When I answered, Lucas excitedly asked if I was online. From the level of his excitement, I thought our country had been attacked again. He directed me to an eBay URL, and as I started to ask, “What in the hell…” he stopped me with the proclamation, “I JUST BOUGHT IT!” It marked the beginning of the “flight of the Osprey.” It brought together a beautiful old boat and a young man with a dream. Lucas poured his heart and soul into the Osprey, and she sailed proudly each time they left the dock.
Lucas was what one “old salt” described as an old school “captain’s captain,” with knowledge and skill far beyond his years. I will never forget the evening we were picking up a group at Charleston City Marina. The only space available was to parallel park the Osprey between two magnificent, large yachts. As Lucas headed the Osprey to the spot, the captains – as well as some guests – of both boats rushed out as if expecting the worst to happen. I asked, “Are you sure you want to try this?” Without a word, Lucas gently manuvered the old boat into the tight quarters, and then turned to me with a grin and said, “Oh yeah.”
Recently, a group of Lucas and Helen’s friends bought the Osprey to preserve and continue his dream. It’s another way they can help Helen, and “little Luke.” Lucas would be proud. Every man should have such friends.
Rest in peace, Lucas. Today you are remembered by family and friends lucky enough to have known and loved you.