'Great friend of Destin': Ken Beaird — ex-mayor and longtime boat captain — dies at 87

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Ken Beaird wore many hats during his lifetime — from an Air Force fighter pilot to a Destin charter boat captain to serving as mayor of Destin.

But Beaird, who died Oct. 16 at age 87, was best known as a friend and a friend of Destin. 

"Ken was a great friend and he loved Destin," said Destin City Councilman Dewey Destin, who served alongside Beaird during his stint as mayor from 1996 to 2001. "Some of us were lucky enough to be born here, but Ken came here because he loved it."

Destin's Seth McDonald stands next to a 302.5-pound Warsaw grouper at the Destin Fishing Rodeo, along with Miss Destin Melissa Jo Firth and Ken Beaird, captain of the Reville II, on Oct. 18, 2000. McDonald caught the fish while aboard the charter boat Reville II.

Ken and his wife, Fran, of 66 years, moved to Destin from Texas after Ken retired from the Air Force in 1979. Ken bought the Reveille charter boat and was a captain for 27 years.

Destin, who sat next to Beaird on the dais in the council chambers, said he liked that job, but "he loved fishing."

"I hate to see him go. … Another chapter of Destin is fading away on us," Destin said. "He was a great friend and a great friend of Destin."

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'He was a man who believed in our city'

Cyron Marler, who served on the council while Beaird was mayor, said "he was one of our good mayors."

"He was a man who believed in our city," Marler said.

During his time on council, Marler said he recalled Beaird "did not like men to wear hats into the council chambers and immediately would tell them to remove their hats soon as they came in the door.

en Beaird served as the mayor of Destin from 1996 to 2001.

"He was also a great boat captain," Marler said.

Capt. Mike Eller of the charter boat Lady Em counts Beaird as one of the "good guys."

"Ken Beaird was truly a good guy. He loved our community, he loved being a charter boat captain, and along with his wife, Fran, he always stepped up to do his part in our community," Eller said.

Beaird 'cared deeply' about Destin 

Beaird was the founding member of NACO, the national association of charter boat operators, Eller said. He also served as president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, was a Destin Fishing Rodeo winner and a retired Air Force pilot, Eller said.

"He supported and worked on the original Destin Seafood Festival with his wife, Fran," Eller said. Fran also served as the city of Destin's first city clerk.

"He was one of the men that I respected the most for his dedication and support of the fishing community. He is and always will be one of my heroes," Eller said.

Longtime resident Lloyd Taylor, and former councilman as well, said, "he was very approachable, cared deeply about his community, especially the younger children."

'He was the best dad'

From an early age, Beaird took his grandson, Jordan Hutchison, under his wing and taught him all about fishing. 

"He taught me everything I know about boats and driving boats and fishing and that may have been maybe a 10th of what he knew," Hutchison said, who is now a captain himself.  "He was the first best friend I ever had before I even knew what that meant."

Ken Beaird served as a charter boat captain for nearly 30 years.

Hutchison worked on the deck for his grandfather for years. 

"The most memorable for me and him was the Warsaw we caught with the boys that I was old enough to actually help with and was old enough to fish," he said.  

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Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Destin Fishing Rodeo, has many fond memories of Beaird as well. 

"There are so many wonderful memories of my uncle, major, mayor, captain Ken Beaird," Donaldson said. 

"But today the one that comes to mind is how unselfishly he loved his family. He told great stories and was always eager to be with his family," Donaldson added. 

Ken and Fran Beaird were married for 66 years.

His daughter, Alicia Beaird Hutchison, spoke through tears about her dad. 

"My daddy was a saint. ... He was the best dad," she said. 

She described him as a very patient man and a good provider. And he was a man with a sense of humor, she said. 

"My daddy is the only person I know that has done exactly what he enjoyed doing all his life," she said. 

"He flew airplanes for his first 20 years of his career, and then fished the rest of it. Not too many people can say that," Beaird Hutchison said.

"There's nobody that didn't like my dad. That was big to me as a daughter to see how he was accepted to a community the way he was."