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Brad Lisk’s life celebrated in true Island style

HOLMES BEACH – The life and legacy of longtime Island resident and Dcoy Ducks’ bartender Brad Lisk was celebrated Saturday with a boat brigade, an ash spreading ceremony in the Gulf of Mexico and an after-party.

Brad passed away at the age of 51 on March 25 after suffering a massive heart attack on March 20 – a heart attack preceded by previous heart issues. He left behind his two sons, Shane Pelkey Lisk and Tanner Pelkey Lisk, both of whom share their dad’s strong ties to Anna Maria Island.

Brad Lisk’s life celebrated in true Island style
Brad Lisk coached youth baseball on the Island for years. – Submitted

At 6:10 p.m., on Saturday, June 13, a procession of about 20 boats that departed from Longboat Pass arrived offshore at 68th and 69th streets in Holmes Beach. The commercial fishing boat Savage Lady flew a large banner on the starboard side that said, “Hang Loose Brad Lisk.”

The boat brigade was greeted by dozens of people gathered on the beach, many of whom wore commemorative T-shirts featuring a sketch of Brad on the front and on the back the now infamous photograph of Brad at a Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s game holding a sign that said, “WILL Q.B. FOR BEER.”

Some on the beach swam out to the boats or used paddleboards to get there.

“If more people were like my dad, we wouldn’t have the issues we have today.” Shane Pelkey Lisk

At 6:30, Shane came ashore via personal watercraft and waded onto the beach carrying a tequila bottle containing his father’s ashes. A circle formed and Stetson Matthews was the first to share his thoughts.

“He took me under his wing and I’ve never met a person like Brad Lisk. He was laid back, but he could still guide people in various directions. We’re all here for him,” Mathews said.

Dennis Doran pointed to the Tampa Bay Rays jersey he wore and said, “Brad bought this for me. Everybody I talked to said, ‘I was his best friend.’ That’s the way he treated everybody.”

Brad Lisk’s life celebrated in true Island style
Brad Lisk’s friends gathered on the beach to celebrate his life. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Shane then spoke.

“I would like to say a prayer for my father. My dad loved peace, love and harmony. He treated everyone equal. No matter who you were, the color of your skin, what you looked like, what background you had, my father loved everyone equally.

“My dad taught me to love and cherish everything you have. If I wasn’t happy, he’d tell me, ‘Is there a roof over your head? Is there food on your plate? If you don’t like this, go find somewhere else to live.’ But you know what? I always came back,” Shane said.

He referenced the many years his dad spent coaching youth baseball and said, “He always took care of the Island kids. We always had a team where we were the oddball team. The kids didn’t have much and he would load everyone up in a truck and we would always get to practice or a game.”

He also said, “If someone needed someone to talk to, he was always the guy to give them advice. He always treated everyone with the same respect. If more people were like my dad, we wouldn’t have the issues we have today.”

Shane then waded into the Gulf of Mexico, said his father’s name aloud and began spreading his ashes as the people on shore cheered and the boats blew their horns.

Before rejoining the boat brigade, Shane encouraged everyone to stop by Dcoy Ducks to see the shrine erected in his dad’s honor. The shrine featured photograph books, framed photographs, framed concert tickets, a painting by Logan Huck, photographs projected on a video screen and more.

As folks arrived at the bar, Dcoy Ducks’ general manager Richie Brown shared his thoughts.
“Brad was a legend. He was an incredible friend, an incredible employee and the best bartender on the Island, hands down. People from all over the country would come to the bar and the first thing they said was, ‘Is Brad working tonight?’ He was a great father, a great friend and the Island will never be the same. He was an icon,” Brown said.

“Dcoy Ducks sends our thoughts and prayers to Brad’s sons, Shane and Tanner,” Brown said, noting the challenges of putting together a celebration of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dcoy Ducks’ bartender Lisa O’Connell said Brad worked there for about 10 years and started as a doorman, which didn’t last long.

“He had the personality to be behind the bar. I love him with all my heart,” O’Connell said.

Having made his way from the beach to the bar, Mike Lacher said, “Back in the ’80s and ’90s we went to probably 100 concerts together. He was a great guy and a great friend to everyone. I knew him for 40 years and we first met in Boy Scouts.”

Lacher was at the Bucs’ game captured in the photograph and later used for the commemorative T-shirts.

“I think it was back in the ’80s. We were 1-13 that year. We were absolutely horrible,” Lacher said.

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