Curt Whiticar, founder of Whiticar Boat Works, died Tuesday after prolonged congestive heart failure and kidney issues. He was 106.
Known as a legend in the community, Whiticar and his family have called Stuart home since 1917.
Initially splitting time between his native New Jersey and Stuart, Whiticar worked with his father in the fishing industry as a kid, coming to Florida in the winter for the warmer temperatures and bountiful catch.
He eventually settled down on the Treasure Coast, raising his three children with his late wife, Elsa, in Stuart.
Before founding Whiticar Boat Works in 1947, Whiticar ran a charter fishing business that came to include seven boats called the Whiticar Fleet.
Considered among the early conservationists in the area, he devised a plan to present anglers who were coming to the “Sailfish Capital of the World” with a special golden pin if they released the billfish back into local waters. This would allow tourism to the area to continue without putting the fish’s population in danger. The mission was taken up by the newly formed Stuart Sailfish Club, which included local fishing charters like Whiticar’s, in 1941.
After retiring, Whiticar dedicated more time to painting, a favorite pastime. He gave some of his works to family, friends and even the Historical Society and Stuart Heritage Museum. At the age of 96, he wrote a book about what life was like in Stuart in the early 1900s.
Whiticar celebrated his 106th birthday on Feb. 13, shortly after which he was presented with a Legendary Captains & Crew award by the International Game Fish Association.
“Everyone uses the word ‘amazing’ and ‘great’ and ‘accomplished,’ and I think probably the one word that probably says it all is ‘accomplished,'” John Whiticar said, recalling how people often referred to his father. “He’s an accomplished fisherman, boat-builder; he was an accomplished golfer—he wasn’t the best golfer, but he was dedicated… just an all-around great person.”
Curt Whiticar is survived by his children, Laura Kay Darvill-Whiticar, Joanne Talley and John Whiticar; John’s wife, Dot Whiticar; eight grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
There will be a celebration of life held at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach around Palm Sunday, which falls on April 9. More details will be available at a later date.
Note: This post has been updated with a more specific date for the celebration of life memorial being planned for Curt Whiticar. More details are to come.