8 Bells


Shawn Stich would have been proud.

He rarely showed pride in things, because he didn’t want to be boastful and a braggart, but when Shawn was proud of something, you knew it.  Like the Italian yacht he purchased back east and had shipped out here.  He’d been working on it for a couple of years, restoring it to it’s earlier days of grandeur. The spiral staircase inside that took you down to the two bedrooms.  The beautiful wood.  Shawn had just had the boat painted and it glistened as it was moored at the Queen City Yacht Club.

Isn't she a beauty?

This ship had come with it’s own set of dishes that were a flashback to the 1950s. Somehow, Shawn had found a book dedicated to this line of yachts, with Gina Lolobrigida featured on board in one of the photos. After losing his wife in 2004, my broadcast partner, Alice Porter, Shawn had only shown occasional interest in females.  But this lady was something different.

Let’s call the restoration 80% complete.  That’s as far as Shawn would ever see, as he died suddenly of a heart attack almost a month ago, at the age of 58.  His brother Darrin and members of the Queen City Yacht Club teamed up to do some of the final touches and have it docked next to the club for Shawn’s “8 Bells” send off this past Saturday.

I’m going to have to turn to Wikipedia for an explanation of the 8 Bells ceremony:

“For at least six centuries, time has been signaled aboard ship by the striking of bells each half hour, one bell per half hour, with eight bells signifying the changing of the watch.”

With Shawn’s passing, the bell was rung 8 times.  A member who passes is referred to as “Captain”, so it was a sendoff for Captain Shawn Stich.

I was asked to repeat the letter that was read at his actual funeral a few weeks ago, that I was unable to attend.  In it, I mentioned his early hydro racing days, when he was a crew member for that fairly exclusive racing club.  But a true testimony to those crazy “good old days” when hydro racing champ Bill Vilwock came forward to tell a tale or two about “Shawnski”.

Bill Villwock talking about the old days with "Shawnski"

He was a Teamster, a Boat Scrounge, a Mechanic, a Character, a Frustrated Golfer and an unbelievable loving husband to his “little red-headed girl”.  This was his send off.  This was the changing of the watch.  This was a “thanks for the time we had together” salute, but we understand there’s someone you’d really like to be with.

I know that if he was able to watch our gathering that day, he would have been incredibly, incredibly proud.

Tim Hunter

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