Andrew Gillingham: Locals remember young man with ‘infectious’ smile

Andrew Gillingham

There will be one less smile on the fishing docks this season.

Destin’s Andrew Gillingham, a 29-year-old deckhand, died Sunday.

Gillingham has worked on various charters in the Destin fleet from the Sunrise, Vengenance, the Outta Line to the Backdown 2.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t like Andrew,” said Capt. Gary Jarvis of the Backdown 2.

“He had such a bubbly personality. He was respectful of the customers and was good with the kids,” Jarvis said.

“He was valuable to have on the back deck, because of his personality and he knew his way around the boat.”

Gillingham had just finished one full season with Jarvis, but has fished off and on with him for the past three years on the long tuna trips. Gillingham, who also had his captains license, would serve as his second captain.

“He knew the business. He was smart. He knew how to take care of people and boats.”

But the thing Jarvis said he will miss about Gillingham is “his smile … it was very infectous. He was always up.

“When the motors cranked and the customers are on … it was game time.”

“I’ll just miss his positive attitude,” Jarvis said.

“He could light up the crew on the boat,” said Capt. Trey Windes of the Outta Line.

Gillingham worked with Windes for about four years as a first mate.

“He was infectious,” with his smile, Windes said.

But he was also helpful and talented.

“He would break his back trying to help you. He was incredibly willing to help you if he could,” Windes said.

Windes said he was good at everything he tried to do from fishing, fiberglassing, mechanicing and painting.

“He could do anything,” Windes said.

As a matter of fact, Windes recalled a day when they were at dry dock and needed a certain wrench.

“So he built one from scratch out of fiberglass,” Windes said. They were able to fix the boat and drive it back.

“I still have it. I wont throw it away,” he said.

And Gillingham loved being on the water.

“He loved to fish. He had that passion about it that made him good at it,” Windes said.

“He could work a 30-hour shift commercial fishing without slowing down,” said deckhand Travis Marlin, who has worked the back deck on the Backdown 2 with Gillingham the last year.

“He was fast paced and good with people. Always on top of things.”

He was especially good with the kids on the boat, he said.

Marlin has worked off and on with Gillingham for about eight years, but fulltime for the past couple.

The fish story he remembers most about Gillingham is the time they fought a 250-pound swordfish in the pouring rain for about six hours.

But the thing he’ll miss most is his smile.

“He was always smiling … His smile will bring you up.”

However, as word of his death spread throughout the community,  people and businesses around town have stepped up to lend a helping hand in handling expenses.

Currently the Fisherman’s Foundation is taking donations for Andrew Gillingham.

A fundraiser will be held 7-10 a.m. Sunday at Emerald Coast Scuba. The Big Red Truck will be cooking up a pancake breakfast for donations. There will also be raffle items.

The Boathouse Oyster Bar will be doing a raffle from 4 p.m. til close on Jan. 17

There has also been a Facebook page created,  “Friends and Family of Andrew Gillingham” where folks can post memories and photos.

A celebration of life service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday in the Fisherman’s Wharf building at Fishing Fleet Marina. Jackacuda’s will be serving up food at the services. A burial at sea is planned for a later date.