Stuart Legend Curt Whiticar Turns 105, Celebrates With The Community He Loves
It’s not every day that one of Stuart’s finest turns 105.
For longtime local Curt Whiticar, the only appropriate way to mark the milestone was to have a party—or, in his case, two.
On Feb. 12, more than 175 community members and friends came out to Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach to wish the centenarian a happy birthday over hor d’oeuvres, drinks and cake.
The celebration, which counted commissioners, local employers, and members of long-time Stuart families among the guests, was an opportunity for Whiticar to mingle with old friends who don’t get a chance to see him very often—and it was exactly what he wanted.
Having celebrated his 100th birthday at the park five years ago, Whiticar was asked if he’d like to have a similar party this year. The answer was yes.
“105 is a pretty special number,” his son, John Whiticar, said ahead of the big event. “He’s a pretty sociable guy, likes being around people and telling stories.”
The festivities were set to continue through the weekend with a private family celebration on Feb. 13, Whiticar’s actual birthday.
The founder of Whiticar Boat Works, Curt Whiticar and his family have called Stuart home since 1917. Initially splitting time between his native New Jersey and Stuart, Whiticar worked with his father in the fishing industry as a kid, coming to Florida in the winter for the warmer temperatures and bountiful catch. He eventually settled down in the Treasure Coast, raising his three children with his late wife, Elsa, in Stuart.
Considered among the early conservationists in the area, he came up with the idea to present avid fishermen with a golden pin if they released the sailfish they caught back into local waters.
After retiring from the sport fishing industry, Whiticar dedicated more time to painting—a favorite pastime—giving some of his works to family, friends and even the Historical Society and Stuart Heritage Museum. At the age of 96, he wrote a book about what life was like in Stuart in the early 1900s.
His accomplishments may be impressive, but to John Whiticar and his sisters—Laura Kay Darvill and Joanne Talley—he’s still dad.
“He’s always been kind and generous and been a very good role model for our whole family,” John Whiticar said.
He recalls a time in the 1950s when he was in elementary school. His father had a charter boat that they’d get to use as a family, and everyone would go out by the sandbar and picnic, swim and run around.
“I just remember going out on the boat and going fishing and doing those things back then,” John Whiticar said.
Another fond memory, he recalls, was a trip they took as a family in 2005. The five of them went to visit the small fishing town in New Jersey where his father was born. It was a place they had heard about for years but never seen.
“My whole life I had this mental picture of this town, and it was completely different than what I pictured it to be,” he said.
So, as his father turns 105, he wants nothing more than to make sure he knows how much he's appreciated for all he's accomplished.
“I’ve always admired him for his energy, ambition and perseverance … to be able to do all the things he’s done,” John Whiticar said.
After all, he said, his father is a hard act to follow.
Singing "Happy Birthday" to Curt Whiticar (center)
Joanne Talley, John Whiticar, Curt Whiticar, Dot Whiticar and Laura Kay Darville Whiticar
Susie Johnson, Franz Maenner and Teresa Brewer
Donna Crary, Cork Hudson and Rick Crary
Mary and Kevin Hutchinson
Denny and Wendy Hudson, Karen Hendry, and Marilyn and Arthur Burr
Marilyn and Steve Hero
Tom and Sandy Thurlow, Charlie and Marty Hooks and Dale and Mary Hudson
(Photos by Liz McKinley)