IN MEMORIAM - Buried at sea, but not forgotten

Destin's Sheri Teems points to where her brother's name is listed on the first Sea Memorial that was placed in Destin Memorial Cemetery in 1992.

Living along the Gulf Coast surrounded by water, it's not unusual that people wish to be buried at sea. But where do family members go to pay their respects?

In 1992 the city of Destin, at the urging of Sheri Teems, put down three concrete pads in the Destin Memorial Cemetery on Stahlman Ave. with intentions of erecting Sea Memorials that would bear the names of those lost or buried at sea.

"The first one was all donations," said Teems, who comes from a fishing family.

Teems approached the city after her brother Kenny Howard, a deckhand on the Windwalker and Serinity, died and had his ashes scatted at sea.

"I woke up in the middle of the night … and thought we need to do a memorial," she said. Teems had seen one in Oregon and fell in love with the idea.

"We've got to do one in Destin. We have nothing to give our respects too," she said.

The first memorial, which stands a little more than four-feet high, bears the names of 74 individuals of which one is her brother. Others listed on that first memorial include people like Henry Hinkel and his wife Ann, who were both very involved with the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Capt. Dewey "Buck" Destin, who died in 1989, is also listed on the first marker.

In 1996 the city erected another memorial, a bit smaller, but it still holds the names of 68 individuals. Some included on that memorial are Capt. John Cheney of the Serentiy and his wife Nancy, who died in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Bill Burleson, a supporter of the Destin Fishing Rodeo died in 2011 and is listed on the marker as well as George "Tater" Dahnke, who died in 2005. Capt. Stokes Walker, Capt. Cecil Woodward and Capt. Delbert Marler are all on the second memorial just to name a few.

"It just blows me away every time I see it," Teems said as she walked around the markers in the cemetery on Thursday. "It just brings back so many memories when you look at them."

Teems' dad, Capt. Si Howard of the Sure Thing, as well as her mother Beverly Howard are all on the second memorial.

"The memorials are dedicated to locals. It's a tribute to them and their respect for the Gulf area and their people," she said.

Now more than two decades after that first monument was placed in the cemetery, there is a need for a third one.

Teems along with Capt. Mike Eller of the Destin Charter Boat Association went before the Destin City Council recently and asked for permission to put up another monument.

The council put their stamp of approval on the idea, but the cost for a third is about $6,000.

Eller said this one will hold about 68 names and that the DCBA will be chipping in money to pay for the cost of the marker as well as the Destin Fishing Rodeo and Destin Fisherman's Coop.

"But if anyone wants to contribute they can. We don't want to exclude anybody who would like to contribute," Eller said.

Right now, Teems is looking at a list of about 25 names of folks that would like to be included on the third marker.

Teems said people have until April 1 to contact her with their inscriptions.

Cost is $100, if paid by April 1, after that requests will have to go through the city.

"So many people that have touched us … they're family," Teems said.

"It's time to get it done."



To have your loved ones name included on the next Sea Memorial, the cost is $100 if paid by April 1.

Send full name, date of birth and death, along with a check for $100 to Sheri Teems at P.O. Box 5881, Destin, FL 32541. List your contact information as well.

There is also an account set up at Eglin Federal Credit Union for people who would like to donate. The account is listed as Destin Sea Memorial, in care of Sheri Teems.