Flowers legacy will roll on down the river

HONORING GRANDPA — Grandson Mikell Grindey reads a speech honoring his late grandfather Bill Flowers at the ceremony christening a tour boat in Flowers’ honor.

HONORING GRANDPA — Grandson Mikell Grindey reads a speech honoring his late grandfather Bill Flowers at the ceremony christening a tour boat in Flowers’ honor.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

CUTTING THE RIBBON — As Heritage River Tours part owner April Stomberg looks on, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar prepares to cut the ribbon to ceremoniously open the M/V Bill Flowers to the public. The boat named in honor of DeLand’s longtime fishing guide will be used for tours of the St. Johns River. M/V stands for “motorized vessel.”

CUTTING THE RIBBON — As Heritage River Tours part owner April Stomberg looks on, DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar prepares to cut the ribbon to ceremoniously open the M/V Bill Flowers to the public. The boat named in honor of DeLand’s longtime fishing guide will be used for tours of the St. Johns River. M/V stands for “motorized vessel.”

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

OBSERVER ON HIGH — A bald eagle watches over the riverside christening of the M/V Bill Flowers at Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina Feb. 4.

OBSERVER ON HIGH — A bald eagle watches over the riverside christening of the M/V Bill Flowers at Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina Feb. 4.

A FAMILY AFFAIR — Friends and family of Bill Flowers gather on the tour boat named in his honor. The family said teaching people about the river was central to Bill Flowers’ life and legacy. From left are grandson Mikell Grindey, grandson Will Grindey, daughter Julianne Daniels, son-in-law Brian Grindey, Heritage Tours owner April Stomberg, grandson Lawrence Daniels, daughter-in-law Janelle Flowers, son Ben Flowers, daughter in law Laurie Flowers and son Mikell Flowers. On the bench in front, from left, are

A FAMILY AFFAIR — Friends and family of Bill Flowers gather on the tour boat named in his honor. The family said teaching people about the river was central to Bill Flowers’ life and legacy. From left are grandson Mikell Grindey, grandson Will Grindey, daughter Julianne Daniels, son-in-law Brian Grindey, Heritage Tours owner April Stomberg, grandson Lawrence Daniels, daughter-in-law Janelle Flowers, son Ben Flowers, daughter in law Laurie Flowers and son Mikell Flowers. On the bench in front, from left, are granddaughter Sara Grindey, and daughters Beth Grindey and Pam Buckley. 

A TOAST TO A LEGACY — Those attending the M/V Bill Flowers christening raise their glasses in a traditional christening ceremony, which includes three glass-raisings and three toasts to the joys and perils of the seas, the strengths of ships and the safety of sailors.

A TOAST TO A LEGACY — Those attending the M/V Bill Flowers christening raise their glasses in a traditional christening ceremony, which includes three glass-raisings and three toasts to the joys and perils of the seas, the strengths of ships and the safety of sailors.

Glasses filled with champagne caught the Sunday-afternoon sunshine as a toast was raised on an old wooden dock and a grandson read a speech dedicated to his late grandfather. 

When the speeches were finished, the bubbles swallowed and the ribbon cut, the M/V Bill Flowers was ready to launch, named in honor of the man people called the godfather of the St. Johns River.

The christening at Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina took place Feb. 4, a year after Flowers’ passing. 

The legacy of Capt. Bill Flowers, a renowned fishing guide and devoted member of the DeLand community, will live on on the river through Heritage River Tours and the Coast Guard-inspected tour boat named for him.

 “It was his dream to share that with people and do tours so he could share his knowledge of the river,” April Stomberg said. Stomberg is part owner and general manager of Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina. “We decided that what better way to have this man that was passionate about the river, to have his legacy live on and name the boat after him. We would be fulfilling his dream even after he passed.”

A traditional christening ceremony was held, with a small program, including grandson Mikell Grindey’s speech, as well as participation by those who attended.

Stomberg said approximately 60 people RSVP’d for the event, but she expected even more to attend, because of the indelible mark Flowers left on the town and the river.

“He was quite a legend in this town,” she said. “It’s not just my ceremony, but everybody’s ceremony.”

Flowers’ family members were among the attendees, along with DeLand Mayor Robert Apgar. According to Stomberg, it is tradition to invite dignitaries to boat christenings.

“We are honored they did this,” said Bill Flowers’ son Ben Flowers. “My dad believed in conservation and telling everybody he used to take on the river about the river. His legacy will live on through these tours, and we are really happy about that.”

— Suzanne English, info@beacononlinenews.com

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