NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. — It was a bittersweet gathering on Neptune Beach Saturday morning.
Community members honored the 37-year-old father of three Timothy Obi with a memorial paddle-out.
“Sad but joyful that we’re here helping out and supporting the family,” attendee Alan Riik said.
“Everyone liked being around him. Never a bad time with Timmy,” attendee Aaron O’Reilly said.
Obi disappeared two weeks ago while diving with friends off the coast of Mayport.
People said the memorial is part of the healing process.
“You’re sad at the same time but you feel good at everybody coming together to help the family get through it,” attendee Steve Mariea said.
Even those who admit they didn’t personally know Obi said they can tell he was deeply loved.
“We know a lot of people that knew him. We thought it was important to be here and honestly, I got teary as I came down the pass and saw how many people are out here,” attendee Heather Guzzino said.
Organizers handed out special shirts for donations and a surfboard was passed around for attendees to sign.
When it was time, paddleboarders gathered in the ocean for a special ceremony.
“In Hawaii, this was a sacred thing for water warriors, surfers that was the ultimate celebration of life,” attendee Jason Motes said.
Paddleboarders took flowers out into the ocean with them to show solidarity and love in Obi’s memory.
He is remembered in the hearts and in the water of Neptune Beach.
“What a special guy he must have been,” Guzzino said.
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