Doug Little, Me, and Captain Jeanne Bell, Aboard the Naiad
The saddest of goodbyes are the ones we don’t get to say. Monday morning, Captain Jeanne Bell was taken from us in a sudden and completely unexpected way. In an instant, an aneurysm no one suspected existed cut short a life that made an enormous difference in our world. Jeanne touched hundreds and hundreds of people during her years aboard the Naiad, and her loss has devastated her friends, family, and most of all, her husband, Doug Little. I think everyone who knew, admired, and loved her is still in shock, not ready to accept that she has left us. I know I am.
At some point, I will write a longer post about all the things Jeanne Bell taught me, and everyone who ever took a tour on the Naiad. For now, I just want to say that Jeanne was not only my friend, but the person who first planted the idea in my head that a book about an eco-tour boat owner would be fun to write. Many of you know that she and Doug were my inspiration for Maggie and Gunn in Swamp Ghosts, and that without their love and support, things would be very different for me today. I am so thankful they came into my life when they did, and I will miss Jeanne Bell every day of the rest of it.
The St. Johns River has lost a staunch friend, and the world is a sadder place without our Captain Jeanne. Somewhere, she is watching to be sure we always remember the things she so willingly shared with us. I ask that my friends here take a moment to contemplate how much difference one person can make in the lives of others. Please hold Doug in your heart, as he makes his way through the days ahead.