Ellwood Franklin “Capt. Frank” Rodney passed away Sunday. Oct. 6, 2013. Frank fought a long battle with cancer. God had other plans and called him home.
Frank was born Feb. 11, 1955, and was raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He was a third generation waterman who spent the past 40-odd years fishing commercially. Somehow in this tough industry he remained self-reliant and self-employed, and loved every minute of it. Frank was one of those rare breeds whom his friends could count on to be there and his family held in high honors. He did not lie, cheat or steal – a rare breed indeed.
Frank fished the eastern coast of Florida for the last 25 years, always making the boys at Water Street happy when he came to town on "The Putter. Then it was "The Jennie" and for the next 10 years he was chasing tuna across The Gulf. Every menu in town boasted fresh “Capt. Frank’s Tuna.”
It was at this time, he decided to stay, live and work here in Apalachicola, and was lucky enough to run into the love of his life sitting on the porch of The Gibson Inn. He noticed a gal sitting there who was cutting up fruit and cheese to help with Happy Hour. He liked her knife skills and the rest was history... Their eyes met and it turned into the longest date of Peggy Foley's live. They became inseparable, two peas in a pod, right up until his last breath.
In 2007, when the Suzie Sea ran aground on the north side of Dog Island while investigating the possible sponge business, Frank was instrumental with the salvage of that boat. The number of boats Frank saved was too many to count. He was the first one there to help with a wetsuit in January to finding the right part to make things work. The working waterman has a tough enough life; Frank found joy in helping his brother fisherman wherever possible.
When the BP oil was frightening close, he contacted his good friend Larry Simms, head of Maryland Watermen’s Association. Frank and Larry thought it was a good idea to barge up Apalachicola oysters for safekeeping until the mess was cleaned up. But too much red tape these days for that good idea made sure it never materialized. He was involved in the Gulf BP oil spill cleanup, which cut into his soul.
His passion was to do whatever he could to help. Years back when there was a blight, they brought Apalachicola oysters to replenish the Chesapeake Bay. He was an advocate for Save the Bay Foundation for the Chesapeake Bay.
As a young man, Frank also honed his skills in carpentry, which came in handy along the way. Many will remember that he became a pretty good golfer, could throw an atlatl with ease, and was very proud of his pool-shooting skills. Collecting Indian relics and being outdoors with nature were his passions. He loved animals and rescued many. Frank was an intelligent guy with a great sense of humor. He was always the light in any gathering, and will be greatly missed.
Frank was preceded in death by his brother, Kevin, and stepfather, Frank.
He is survived by his mother, Betty Lou Taylor; his life partner and caregiver, Peggy Foley; his sisters, Mellissa (Jeff) Finney, Kristi (Miles) Parsons and Sherry Craner; and a brother, Gerald Rodney. Frank was the proud father of three children, Taylor Rodney, Chelsea (Jon) Smith and Nick Rodney. He was looking forward to welcoming his first grandchild into the world this month.
A Celebration of Life was held Saturday afternoon, Oct. 12 in the Galena Funeral Home of Stephen L. Schaech, Galena. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Frank’s name to your local humane society would be appreciated. He also leaves behind his two devoted four-legged rescued companions Little Man and Scooter. They will miss him dearly as well.
He will surely be remembered by anyone who came across his path. We would like to have a remembrance for Frank and say our final goodbyes on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. at Battery Park. After, we'll proceed to the boats for his last fishing trip. Anyone with their own boat who would like to join in the procession out to the bay may feel free to join us. Let's make this a special sendoff for him and a joyous day to remember. Always in our hearts.