The late Bill Curtis was a legendary fly fishing guide in Florida, chiefly around Biscayne Bay. Celebrities and superior fisherman flocked to him: Jimmy Buffett, Thomas McGuane, Carl Hiaasen, and numerous others booked him as their guide. Even Ernest Hemingway knew who he was and respected him. Curtis’s career dated back to the 1940’s: along the way he invented the Bimini twist knot, the Poling platform for boats, among other widely known fishing gadgets.
One of the chief ironies of Curtis’s life is that he only had one working eye – he lost the other one in a stick fight at the age of four. But, as it was often said of him, he could see fish better with one eye than anyone with two.
Fisherman worldwide were sad to see him pass at the age of 91 last October. He was cremated and was scheduled to have his ashes scattered in Biscayne Bay near a spot local anglers refer to as “Curtis Point.” Bad weather prevented the event; another had been set for this month, but fate intervened.
In late January, a man wearing a hoodie (this prevented identification by local security cameras) broke into the Chevy Silverado which contained Curtis’s urn. Ignoring a number of valuables, the thief simply took the cremains and fled. The whereabouts are still unknown, as is the motive.
Speculation is running wild in the fishing community. No one close to Curtis can quite figure out why someone would want to steal his ashes. Sadly, morbid curiosity and dysfunctional hero worship often end up in theft of cremains, or tombstone defacement.
History is replete with incidents that are similar to this one. Grouch Marx’s cremains were stolen from Eden Memorial Park in California in 1977 and were eventually returned. Part of Truman Capote’s ashes were stolen from the home of Capote’s friend, Joanna Carson, and also returned. The list goes on.
Most often, here at Martin Oaks, we receive emails and calls from people who have found an urn and are looking to return it to a family member. We make it a point to try to bring closure to these situations.
While everyone has their own preferences about storage for cremains, we suggest that this should be discussed prior to the loved ones passing. This will ensure that the final disposition is appropriate and secure.