Celebrations of Life

Memorial Day 2005 (May 30th) would prove to be a most trying time. Our son, William D. Ladd II, "Bj,"  and Bj's Maternal Grandmother, Essie Byrd Smith, both passed away (thousands of miles apart) that very day.  Photos below are first  a collection of Bj's dearest friends and some with family members he loved so very much.  At the link in this sentence, I've added a bit of inspiring correspondence I've received.  Each email written with such genuinely heartfelt emotions, from those who have been so generous in sharing such feelings with me.  I am always extremely grateful to be the recipient of someone's inner feelings.  Having another open their heart to you is so incredibly special.  This is what life... and death... are all about: How we handle the difficult times.  It is truly what makes all the difference between living happily on this earth or suffering miserably in never ending grief.  It's YOUR life... and it is what YOU make it!

May this website continue to inspire others to live their dreams and be comforted in knowing that death is such a huge part of life.  We must keep our losses, no matter how much it pains us, in the proper perspective.  We show the world that we ourselves are living tributes to those we have lost.  We have been blessed to be touched with their lives and their death.  Even though they are gone from this earthly life, every memory of the joy we have in loving them is one more joy closer to giving us the strength to find a way to move forward each and every day.

Bj, an avid sailor and scuba diver, loved the seas and all its creatures.  Somewhere, years ago, I heard about a company that made artificial reefs to help fight against the depletion of natural coral reefs and their inhabitants. It seemed so fitting that we have an Eternal Reef Memorial cast in our son's memory.  Our Bj would truly become one with the seas and the marine life he so cherished.  I've always loved a quote from President John F. Kennedy's "The Sea" speech, which he gave in September of 1962 during the America Cup races held in Newport, RI.  For our son who wanted to be at one with the sea, Kennedy's words become so poignant.  The link which follows will take you to where you can read that most famous excerpt of Kennedy's speech, as well as view a pictorial of the making of Bj's Eternal Reef Memorial and a few of the most special, most wonderful people we met while sharing the same mission. 

For your convenience, after you've look through it you may then select a link provided there that will bring you right back to this page or you may opt to return to our Home Page.  We hope you enjoy seeing this creative alternative method of paying tribute to loved ones who have transitioned.  It truly is a wonderful, and most fitting tribute to our son, as well as a way to encourage a flourish of marine life which quickly inhabit the Eternal Reef Memorials.  Bj's Eternal Reef Memorial

A photo gallery is below: from the Celebration of the Life for Bj and his Grandmother, held at Lake Springfield, Illinois; and from the two Celebrations of Life for Bj held in Marathon, Florida Keys; and St. Croix, USVI (including pics from the "Celebration of Life and William Dean Ladd III College Fund Benefit*," held by Bj's friends who wanted to do something -- and something they surely did!  The Benefit was held at Sombrero Dockside Marina, Marathon, FL on July 2nd 2005).  Our thanks to one and all who made all these Celebrations and Events a huge success. A special, special thanks to Dockside's: "Too Tall" Lee (my Aussie brother and such a dear, dear friend to Bj who worked so hard to coordinate the Benefit); "Dave the Slave," "Roy," who said Bj sang like Mel Torme (and must have gotten that from his Father's side); Mark and "The Conch Republic" Band who took such good care of us and all of whom loved our son; Joe Mama; Dan Sullivan (One of Bj's closest friends... they had so much fun singing together); and our heartfelt gratitude to the Owners and remaining staff of Sombrero Dockside Marina who gave so much to ensure the Benefit would be a success.  What loving friends Bj had.  We'll never forget your kindness, love, and overwhelming generosity.

 ~ Bless you all. ~

*Contributions to the William D. Ladd III College Fund are being handled by:

Bank President Susan Darling, c/o Illini Bank of Divernon, 133 Dodds Street, Divernon, IL  62530.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love... and be loved in return." - E. Abez




"A Celebration of Life... No tears, 'lest those tears of joy for having loved me."

                                                                                                 - Charmaine Smith Ladd

Celebration of Life for Bj at Sombrero Dockside Marina

Saturday, July 2, 2005

(Click on each photo for larger picture.)

Celebration of Life for Bj at Sombrero Dockside Marina

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Garth, our dear friend; Sweet Janet (& husband Greg) Cauble; Pirate Dave who so loved our son; Sweet Sister Katie Adams, whom we adore and cherish; Lovely "Dolphin" Julie of England, a dear friend of our son.

Bj's Father Bill says a few words of thanks as Mom holds Charlie near; Freddy Bye Band; Bj's great friend (and brother forever) Richie on drums; Sherri and Bruce who say Bj was the first one to welcome them to Marathon; Bj's great, great friend and Brother Josh (ola) Keilty and Josh's sweetheart Deb(ola) Robinson.  We love you Josh.

Dockmaster Deputy Dave; Charmaine and Sweet Donna who loved our son so much; Big Twin Tom Benelli and his Little Twin Charmaine; Sweet Dolphin Lady Carol and Charmaine; Bj's good friend "Red."

Chris of s/v Magus with Charmaine; Delly; Dave, Lee and Bj's "Sissy," Teresa; Pirate Dave; Dockside full of well wishers; the Conch Republic Band jams with our great friend Roy and Mayor John Bartus.

Mary and Mike; The Conch Republic Band (thanks Marc); Lynn and Rick; Little Jack; "Too Tall Lee" and Dave; the Mayor of Marathon, Florida, John Bartus, on guitar and sweet vocals.


Mike sang Bj's signature song: "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay."  Rob our great friend; Sweet Parise and Charmaine talk; Nurse Rick, Charmaine sandwiched between the best slices of white bread in the world: Munchkin Kathy and her husband, our dear brother Captain Jack.  Jack went on the sail to St. Croix with Bj.  To right, Bj's buddy Roy.

Jen of s/v Miss Hazel with Red-head Jen dancing to the music.  Freddy Bye Band played "Freebird" as we had Bj's sister, Breighan on the telephone listening (and crying) together.  Oh Freddy, how we thank you and your Band.

Top row: Katie Adams; Parise and Charmaine embrace; Yani's daughter and friend; Second Row: Charmaine and Dockmaster "Deputy" Dave embrace; Charmaine with Bj's and sister Breighan's great friend "New" (Mark) (he's like a son to us); Roy and Mike jam at the event.

Thanks to all the musicians who gave their hearts and their time.  We love you all.

Below: Mike sings "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," Bj's signature song.


Celebration of Life at Sombrero Resort & Lighthouse Marina,

Celebration of Life at Lake Springfield, Illinois, & Gatherings at Grandpappy's


{1: Front row: Bj's son Will and Bj's daughter, Diana: Back Row Bj's son Will's mother Melissa, Bj's grandfather "Grandpappy" Robert Smith, Bj's daughter Diana's mother Rebecca, and Bj's sister Breighan}{2: Charmaine's sister [Bj & Breighan's Aunt] Cheyenne holding Bj's daughter Diana with Bj's loving sister Breighan} {3: Bj's children: our precious granddaughter Diana, and our precious grandson Will.  How wonderful and blessed it is to have two such precious little gifts in our lives} and {5: Our granddaughter, Bj's daughter Diana, with her loving mother Rebecca}.






Over 300 people attended the Celebrations of Life

     Our sincere thanks and gratitude to: Loving Sheila and daughter Sophie Beebe who is as a daughter to us (& family); Deanna Lilley-Shaughnessy; Denise Lilley; Matt Cardoni (Bj's U of I at Carbondale great friend: the flowers were beautiful); Becky Camille and daughter Wendy, who both have loved Bj since forever; Dr. Matthew Murray (Matt is like a son to us; his mother Marsha (who died all too soon as well) was truly another Mother of Bj's, may they now be reunited; John Murray, Matt's father and our dear friend; My Sweetheart and dear friend for 30 years, Dr. Stephen Price, & his incredible daughter Sidney Price, how we love you both; Jeff and Marty Wilday, longtime dear, dear friends; Edie Lee Harris (who fits in so well with Cheyenne and Charmaine (me), it's almost scary); Tom and Ellen Schanzle-Haskins; Barb and Mike Schwartz, so dear to us; Great friend Greg (Pi), Jan, Carly & Nathan Piland, Denise Michel ("Doris Day") whom Bj loved so dearly, and Denise's Darling Mother, Marion Michel; Our German son, Wolfgang Bachmaier and his dearest, Vera Plesker; Thelma "Thumpie" Hatala; Julius Simmons & Family; Danielle Gass; Josh-ola and Deb-ola (Joshua Keilty & Deb Robinson);"Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" Dan Sullivan; Aussie Mate, and "little brother" to Charmaine, Lee "Too Tall" Lawhan, who gives of his heart to the nth degree; Brandon Poquin, Bj's dear friend; Dave "The Slave," a term of affection given to him by Bj; Richie and his mother Savannah who loved Bj as brother and mother, respectively; Sweet David of Dockside, whom we love so very much; Angie (forever our niece), Dave, Derrek and Zach; The Schaubel Family; Lannie Stowe Lonie & daughter Danielle Lonie (Bj's God-Sister); Dear pal, Debbie Grant; G-Man Charlie and Katie; Iris Lugo, closest friend to Charmaine for over 25 years, and mother of Alison Powers; John Porter, whom we love and understand; Lovable and sensitive Alison Powers (Bj's God-Sister); Alison's father Jim and his ever caring and giving wife Jo Powers; Irina Serp (beautiful floral arrangements, my darling, many many thanks); Brandi, good friend of Bj's (formerly of Dockside) who has married and moved to Belize (bless your heart, you go, Girl!); Todd Johnson, whew where do we start.. love you so so much; Many other longtime friends also knew Bj from when he was in diapers on the tennis courts with Charmaine: Pat Ryan; Jan Sables; Tracey Stern Harper; and Jennifer Roberts Moortgat--Ya Gotta Wanna--and we thank you; Captain Dennis Bratton, with whom Bj voyaged to St. Croix; Longtime good friends: Pat Schad; Tom & Rhea Allard; Bryce Blauer; Bob and Cecilia Sloan; Jane Fletcher; Ernest and Betty Duncan; our longtime friend who is family, Steve Duncan; Ken and Carol Vance; Craig (& sister Celeste) Drone; Marchelle Standback and family; Renae (& Felix) Whiteside Matlock, our friendship goes back to birth (our mothers were roommates in the maternity ward); the ever charming, Carol Whiteside; sweet Denise Whiteside; Rudy and Suzi White Haynes (Suzie and I go way, way back); Milton Fitzgerald (who used to drive me to school); Ronnie Richie and Clayton (oh the times in Petersburg and fishing); Jackie Jones Johnson; Long time family "sisters," Ruthann Newman and Esther Logan; Breighan's good friend, Ryan Casell; Chuckie and Pamela Helms; Michelle M.; Tom Rambo; Loren Hart Francis (keep sailing); Julie Weston (love that British accent and so does Bj and Breighan); Teresa (Bj's Bartending "Sissy" Sis); Donna our Sweet who understands, and her friend Pam Holbert who is so generous and kind; Charlie and Janet Miller, such good friends; Judy and Denny Parker (Sweet Brother); Red-headed Jenn who visited Bj last; Parise and JC, both of whom we love so much; Sherry at the Tiki Hut; Butch and Martha (rock solid friends); My Dearest Brother Captain Jack and my Sister "Munchkin," Kathy (thank you both for being so incredibly brave);  HNR's Wally and Dawn Hamlin, whom we love so very, very much: Shane Westbrook; Bryce Rosene; John Morris; Brooke Grosenheider; Alicia Chadwick; Linda Borst (and husband Bob (aka Drew Carey)- (HNR friends so generously presented us with a Star named for "Bj William Dean Ladd II" (Star Number 006-115, of the Constellation Camelopardalis "The Giraffe."  We presented the framed certification to Bj's son, Will, who thinks it's the greatest thing in the world.  Thank you so much.); Pottery extraordinaire Lynn and Nurse Rick (loved the card you created, Lynn, thank you so much; America's Chuck with whom Bj so loved playing dominos, and who is our dear, dear friend who loved Bj as a son; Trish and Jay (thanks for the Orchids and your love); (Bj's Aunt) Analisa "Lisa" Hart and her man "Captain Ron," we love you both so much; Liz and Sonny Cowan; Jim and Lonnie Weidman; Michael Jay and Mary A.; Mike G.; Bruce, from whom we bought our first dinghy; Denise; Great friends Tory and Holly Hasse from the Wooden Spoon (who fed "Bj's scrawy self" countless times); Erin (Tory and Erin presented us with breathtakingly sentimental black roses (Breighan loved them and took them home with her to dry), thank you so much; Carly and Sarah; Jerky Susan and Stan Penlach; Jon; Robert Wells and Garth Beauregard, a couple we have loved for (seemingly) forever; Andrea and Diver Dave, both of whom were of the last people to speak with Bj via telephone; Robert and his Sweetheart & all the Musicians who gave so much of their time and efforts to pay tribute to our son; the Fantastic Freddy Bye Band (Freddy, our friend and "Freebird" King); Richard and Judy Klawe; Mona and Garry Finch; R.V. Parks; Capt. Bob (Robert Louis Stevenson III-and yes he's who you think he is); Walt, whom we call "Pops;" Harv and Anne Gross who never had to wait long for a drink as long as Bj was around; Dave and Grace Walton; Kylene Moore; Ricky Williams; Stan; Danielle; Jeffery A. Forbes; Sophia and Donna who for so long called me simply "The Bras"; Perry; Janet; Jenn Rodzinka; Lisa Atchison; Savannah; Rich Storm; Katrina; Ray Ray The Sop Man; Dale (& Carol) Searingi; Joolie; Ronnie & Jeanne; Scrya;  Vicki and Paul; Susie and Jack Ingram; Wade; Angela and Paul; Karen Garyantes & Jeff; Judi Block; Barb ("Mom Two"); Judy Fulton; Rick & Leann Bonnett; Kathy; Michele Standridge; Edwin Lee Jr., and Teresa Washington; James, Barb & Christian Mason, great long-time friends, (Barbara--Girl--the card you designed is breathtaking); Georgette and James Slaughter; Marlene & Reynold Steckley;  Rocketman & daughter; Janet and Greg Cauble (& Paul); the Mayor of Marathon, John Bartus (who rocked the house with his guitar and great voice); Bj's dear friend Dirk; Brandon (watch for the fly) whom Bj loved and is his brother; Dockmaster "Deputy Dave who has always been so generous to us;" Dave and Mary Osborn; Bruce and Sherri who are great friends; Newlyweds "Taxi" Jim and Marion Wallsteen whose love for one another is so beautiful; Nurse Rick and Pottery Lynn whom we love so much (Little Will will love the sailboat & bubbles);  Maryann, T.C., Danny and Aunice; Deane; Paula, David and "Harley;" Don and Julie Delbert; Delly; Roy who can sing with the best of them and always said Bj sang like Mel Torme (and pointed out Bj's Dad as proof); the Dancing Jens (Red-head Jen and Jen of s/v Miss Hazel); Darling Regina; our dear friend Little Jack with the heart of gold; Dick and Arlene (& daughter Julie) Conklin, thanks so very much for all your efforts and love; Jim & Darlene Kratz; Mike & Sandee Glanz;  Jim Roche USCG; Tery & Dona; Dave & Mary Osborn; Tom; Chris and Yani Wilder; Susie; Malcolm; Monica Weiner (I'm sure Mother loved all the roses); Bill Cavanaugh; Michael Cannon; John and Rose Callier; Chuckie Hubbard (longtime dear friend who reminds me so much of our son Bj); Ellen Standish; Gary and Nancy Blakely; Our friend Edward Adams; Dana Pope; Carolyn and Rick; Greg and Janet Cauble; Eileen and Jack Lyons; Rainer, Mike and Catherine; Capt. Marti; Staci and Bob Kidwell; Susan Sorenson; Larry Garyantes & Brenda McLaughlin; Ed and Anne Selinger; Kathleen and Jim Davison who are working in Grenada and are always near in spirit; Dianne (& Tom) Marsh who has found a way to live on and has inspired us to do the same; Peggy and Edwin Bockleman: Peggy, my Sweet Love with the huge heart of gold who is always there for us and who loved Bj as a son; Susan and Charles Eanes, who have inspired us in many ways; Donna and Ray Forrest (Charmaine's Twinkie Padna Ray and his wife Donna have been the best "shoulder" friends anyone could imagine);  The ever honest Jeannie and Philip, how we do thank you; Gerrie & Earl Pillsbury; Patty & Michael Heder; Linda Irwin (Bless your heart for your caring ways); Jim and Nancy Brown; Liveaboard-List Friends: Steve Weinstein; David V. Hartley; Richard Olson; Capt. Mike; Loyd Tyler; Ken Mahren; Mike Sullivan; Brian Hendry; Bill Kaiser; Judy Rouse; Bob Franklin; Bob Witte; and Kevin Miles; And thanks to all of Bj's Shaolin Brothers around the world, especially Richie and his wife Deb.  Too, all of Bj's dear friends in Christiansted, St. Croix, especially his neighbor and co-worker in Christiansted Harbor, Connie McBride whose words of sorrow touched our souls... no apologies or guilt, Sweet Connie, we know you loved our son; Sarah Smrcina; John "Big Beard" Macy; Bj's friends at "The Mix," we thank you; Bj's friends at the Fort Christian Brew Pub; as well as the St. Croix Police Department's Charles Smith, Detective Keen, Detective Al Lewitt and all those behind the scenes who assisted us in our time of sorrow.  To the people of Christiansted who gave so generously, we thank you--your Memorial Benefit in Bj's honor will realize an Eternal Reef Memorial for Bj, to be Dedicated in the Spring of 2006.  Lastly, thanks to all those whose names may have slipped our minds...  But not our hearts.

On behalf of Bj's & Essie's entire family:



~If you have pictures you'd like to share, please email them to~ Charmaine@SeptemberSea.com

A Special Thanks to our Cousins Letitia & Bill Anderson; Shannon & Steve McCormick; Jai Lanre Dewith; Charles and Cecine Dewith Jones; Enyo Dewith; and our Dear Aunt Juanita who most generously and lovingly made all the arrangements for the Celebrations of Life held in Springfield, Illinois. Thanks to Tom Bennelli (Charmaine's "Big Twin") & Katie Adams, Lisa Hart (Bj's "Aunt Lisa"), Danielle Gass, and our "Miss Parise." (as Bj lovingly called her) who all tirelessly and lovingly made all the arrangements for the Celebration of Life held in Marathon, Florida Keys.  All of Bj's Friends and Co-workers, especially Sarah Smrcina, who arranged the Celebration of Life held in St. Croix.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of Charlie and Janet Miller and the owners and entire staff of Sombrero Dockside Marina who gave so generously in assiting the Miller's in arranging the "Celebration of Life Benefit" for Bj's son, Will, held July 2nd.  All proceeds are for the William D. Ladd III College Fund, c/o the Illini Bank of Divernon, Illinois.  How can we ever thank you all who gave so generously at the Benefit.  Our thanks to the businesses of the City of Marathon who helped sponsored the Benefit by donating items that were sold at the Benefit's Auction. 

To my Dearest Sister Cheyenne, who took care of our Mother 'til the end, with your loving niece Breighan at your side, your love and tireless efforts are overwhelming.  To our Daughter Breighan we are so proud of your courage and your infinite love for your brother Bj in the present tense; our Darling Grandson Will who, at only seven years old, is as brave and loving as any adult could ever be (and Will's Mother, Melissa Woodward (forever our daughter) and her fiancee Barry Wilson who has stepped into their lives remarkably; the entire Woodward Family; our Parents Robert and Essie Byrd Smith (oh yes, still teaching us things) and Joe and Freida Ladd; Our Siblings (Smiths: Sly Dawne, Cheyenne, Antoinette, Maurice, Tempi and Caleb (and their respective families); Ladds: Danny and Steven & Families); Nieces, Nephews, Cousins, & Our entire extended Family... None of us could get through this without leaning on one another.  We are blessed to have such a huge, close-knit family (including those friends that truly are like family) from which flows an endless stream of more love than words can possibly describe.

How can we ever thank you all.

~ A Toast to Our Beloved Bj ~

His father, Bill, shares in Bj's philosophy:

"Doing It Now!"

"Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in.  If you are contemplating a voyage and have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change.  Only then will you know what the sea is all about... 

But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, and playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by.  The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience.  Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer?  In choice.
Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

- Sterling Hayden, "Wanderer"

Bj, at age Three. (Click to enlarge.)

Our Nature Boy & Voyager     


"The greatest thing, you'll ever learn,

is just to love... and be loved in return."

                        - E. Abez "Nature Boy"

Goodbye for now, Sweet Bj.

Bj embraced with his sister, Breighan, at

Bj's Bon Voyage Party, held February 2005, at Dockside,

Marathon, Florida Keys: The Conch Republic.

In Loving Memory

Essie Byrd Smith

November 25, 1925 - Memorial Day 2005

Extraordinary Mother of seven children:

Sly Dawne, Cheyenne, Charmaine, Antoinette,

Maurice, Tempi, and Caleb.

Wife of our loving Father, Robert C. Smith,

who affectionately calls Mom "Johnnie."  Friend to so many.

A career as a Licensed Nurse and Caregiver.

Grandmother and Great-Grandmother.  Aunt and Great-Aunt.

Sister and Daughter of the Hockaday Byrds of Roanoke Rapids,

North Carolina.  Called "L" by her childhood friends.

Mom - Johnnie - L - How we miss you.

We know you'll take great care of Bj.

Forever Loving You...


Daughter Cheyenne (Charmaine's sister) always took great care of Mother.  Mother's Grand-daughter Breighan laughs as "Grandma Essie" shows disappointment wondering what happened to her cake (she got the coffee but wanted cake and coffee at the same time!).  Though Alzheimer's took most all Mother's memories and thoughts; Mom's sense of humor stayed with her to the very last moment.

Oh Mom, how we miss hearing your laugh.

Essie Byrd Smith

Forever Smitty's "Johnnie"

November 25, 1925 - Memorial Day 2005

"The Kid" is always beside you.

(Picture: Daddy and Mommy, 1962)

Postscript: My father, Robert Columbus Smith, Sr. ("The Kid"), born on Columbus Day 1922,

 joined my Mother on November 4, 2007.  Daddy, we miss you so very, very much.  Kiss Mommy & Bj for us.

Goodbye is not forever.