Loving the theme of Fishing for Our Future, I cruise out to the Landings to catch Coastal Conservation Association Georgia Skidaway Island Chapter’s 22nd Annual Banquet and Auction on May 3.
Waiting inside the Palmetto Room is my host Dave Devore. FYI- Dave isn’t a doctor. Just because his email says drdevore@...., doesn’t mean he is in the medical field. Shaking my head when I realize that I have called the CCA Skidaway president Dr. Dave for the past five years, we wait to snap a pic of him with CCA Banquet Chair Tom Rood.
As more Landings residents flood the reception lobby, I pause Emely Johanson to chat about her former life in the hospice non-profit world and, as the director of hazmat materials, then pose Georgia Southern University student Will Rambo with his good friend Walker Brooks.
Looking like a true fisherman in a white Columbia shirt and a sunglases-shaped silhouette on his tanned face, Walker tells me that he grew up fishing “anywhere he was able to” with his dad and granddad. After the Benedictine student stoically follows my picture-taking instructions, I head over to snap a pic of Chicago North Park Academy class of ‘63 graduates Renee Sanders and Karen Stopps.
Sneaking past me is Yates Astro’s main man Rick Culbreth. Posing the avid fisherman with Cincinnati native Bob Puccini and retired insurance agent Scott Glass, I chat with Scott about his love of fox hunting in Aiken, SC, and at The Knoxes, a 20,000 acre farm near Thomson, GA.
Next up is the sharpest dressed dude in the room! Meet the 6’5” co-owner of Hale Marine, Robert Hale. Born in Toronto, Canada, to English parents, Robert is emceeing tonight and tells me, “I am the chairman for CCA Georgia. My goal is to create more habitats for our fisheries so that future generations can enjoy the sport of fishing.”
While I hug on tonight’s auctioneer Jere Myers, Robert invites me to his annual Hale Marine Customer Appreciation Beach Bash on Pelican Island. With over 200 boats anchored on an ever-shifting sandbar, this event has it all! Robert will be grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, there will be games and raffles, and it’s all to support Fresh Air Home, a youth summer camp on Tybee Island.
Next is a flurry of photos of special guest Army Ranger Kelton Johnsen 1/75 Regiment and his wife Tori then curly haired Paul Kulbesh with his always smiling wife Harriet. Beside them are “two marketing guys” Bill Sickels and Rick Tallon, who answer my question of what they like about living at the Landings with a vague, yet precise marketing answer of “what’s not to like”!
With over 220 attendees mingling around the 95-plus auction items, I mosey over to check the buffet line and talk with Edward Ambrose about his love of golf, skiing and Ireland. Sharing our love of the “old country’s west coast”, we chat about his mom, a triage nurse and his dad, a C130 pilot that met during his tour of duty in Lakenheath England.
After Edward’s wife Caroline walks over for a couples’ pic, I learn that they met in Washington, DC, while playing on the same congressional softball team. “I looked across the Mall lawn and saw her—it was love at first sight.” Awhhh! Caroline responds with “He is the sweetest thing, I love his curly hair, his humor - just everything about him.”
Making my heart happy to see how devoted they are to each other and to coastal conservation, I head up to Colony Bank’s table to snag a seat with long time CCA supporter Drew Hulsey. After a quick hug, we listen to “Dr.” Dave welcome tonight’s supporters then watch a video that describes CCA and its mission.
Simply put, the Coastal Conservation Association is the voice of the recreational angler. “We focus on restoration, protection and enhancement of the coastal environment by supporting the Department Natural Resources Coastal Resource Division. With a strong focus on education and outreach to the general public with an emphasis on beginning angler, we hope that our efforts will safeguard our coast for future generations” shares Dave.
And I’m hoping that our generation realizes that we are all guests on this planet and to support CCA in their efforts to care for the home that Mother Nature gave us! Well done y’all!