Meredith now Admiral of the Ch­e­sa­peake

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

GRA­SONVILLE — Vera Meredith used three words to de­scribe her fa­ther, Capt. Eldridge Meredith: am­bi­tious, fear­less and gen­er­ous.

Her fa­ther, who was named the 101st Admiral of the Ch­e­sa­peake by Gov. Larry Ho­gan for his achieve­ments as a water­man and for his ad­vo­cacy of the Bay, was am­bi­tious for work­ing wak­ing up early seven days a week for work on the wa­ter, fear­less for be­ing strong willed and gen­er­ous for the kind­ness he showed his fam­ily and com­mu­nity — “a heart of gold,” she said.

Packed into a con­fer­ence room at the Hil­ton Gar­den Inn in Gra­sonville on Thurs­day night, Feb. 23, friends, fam­ily and com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered to honor the man from Ch­ester who spent 80 years tend­ing the wa­ters of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay as he re­ceived his admiral des­ig­na­tion. Thurs­day was also Meredith’s 91st birth­day, which all in at­ten­dance had the op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate.

The des­ig­na­tion of Admiral of the Ch­e­sa­peake is the high­est honor of mar­itime en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism and ad­vo­cacy the gov­er­nor can be­stow, Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford told the au­di­ence. Sailors, jour­nal­ists, con­ser­va­tions, elected of­fi­cials and ev­ery­one in be­tween have re­ceived the award since its cre­ation in 1959, Ruther­ford said.

“To­day offers a chance for all of us to cel­e­brate a true liv­ing leg­end and a true Mary­land icon,” Ruther­ford said. “Capt. Meredith’s in­de­pen­dent and in­no­va­tive spirit has guided him to suc­cess on and off the wa­ter.”

As a third generation water­man, fol­low­ing the foot­steps of his fa­ther, Capt. Earl Meredith, and grand­fa­ther, Capt. Richard Meredith, Meredith har­vested oys­ters, clams, crabs and fish through­out his 80 years on the Bay. Now, Meredith is cap­tain of the Is­land Queen II, run­ning a char­ter fish­ing busi­ness in the area.

“I re­ally en­joyed it. I guess I worked hard,” he said. “No one can say work is go­ing to hurt you,” ref­er­enc­ing peo­ple he knew who be­came in­ac­tive af­ter re­tir­ing and de­clined rapidly in health.

Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, who opened the cer­e­mony, said with so many un­known “trea­sures” in the area, it’s “nice that we can ac­knowl­edge Capt. Meredith.”

Dur­ing one of the county com­mis­sion’s March meet­ings, Meredith and his fam­ily will be rec­og­nized fur­ther, said Vin­cent Leggett, event or­ga­nizer and founder of Black Cap­tains of the Ch­e­sa­peake.

Of­fi­cial procla­ma­tions, ci­ta­tions and res­o­lu­tions were given to Meredith by Mary­land Se­na­tors Thomas Miller Jr., Stephen Her­shey and Ade­laide Eckardt, as well as Del. Michael Busch.

Dr. Sa­muel Lit­tle, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Af­ford­able and As­sisted Hous­ing pre­sented Meredith with the 2017 Trail­blazer of the Year Award, which goes to “those who find a new path­way to keep peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties vi­brant,” he said.

To fur­ther tell Meredith’s ex­tra­or­di­nary life story as a water­man, Robert Ked­dell, di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tors Con­nect­ing Re­search to the K-16 Class­room, an­nounced his or­ga­ni­za­tion is cre­at­ing an ed­u­ca­tional pack­age on Meredith that teaches stu­dents about not just mar­itime life in gen­eral, but specif­i­cally his life story.

“It’s very, very important that your legacy is known in ways that are ex­cit­ing for kids,” he said.

Af­ter a bene­dic­tion by Rev. Johnny Cal­houn of Mt. Olive AME Church in An­napo­lis, the room sang “Happy Birth­day” to Meredith.

“At the end of the day when the cool­ers are full and it’s time to go in,” Vera Meredith said,” we lis­ten to his fi­nal words of the day: ‘catch one for the road, wind them in, we’re on our way. Save some fish for an­other day.’”

The event was hosted by Black Cap­tains of the Ch­e­sa­peake, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to doc­u­ment­ing the achieve­ments and con­tri­bu­tions of African Amer­i­cans in the mar­itime in­dus­try, its mis­sion state­ment reads.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford, right, with newly des­ig­nated Admiral of the Ch­e­sa­peake Eldridge Meredith, left, af­ter a cer­e­mony in Meredith’s honor on Thurs­day, Feb. 23, at the Hil­ton Gar­den Inn.

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