Remembering Captain Van

       Captain Van, Founder of Action Belize

Jackson, Mississippi, November 27, 2007:
     Captain Van, 82, passed away this morning with family and Hospice Ministries at his side.  Word from his family indicates that his passing was peaceful and they rejoice that he can once again see his wife Lois.  Van is survived by his 3 children: Linda, Steve, and Rick; as well as numerous grandchildren.

     Captain Van, in the 70's, sold and retired from owning and operating two very successful Ford Motor dealerships. He then purchased and operated a Popeye's food franchise on Florida's east coast. Captain Van, a fisherman at heart, now had time to spend with his second love, the sea (his first love being Lois for many years).

     He started traveling to Belize in 1980 and having such a good time there, involved his friends and old business associates. They experienced the great fishing and wanted to share it with their friends. It just kept going on from there. Van couldn't stop it... He sold the Popeye's franchise and spent nearly all his time with Action Belize fishing and travel.

     In the last few years, Van was more content to stay closer to home base in Naples, Florida.  You could find him most anytime chasing reds and snook in the 10,000 islands of South Florida.  He knew every back bay and had every fish hole mapped in his head... no GPS needed here!  Nobody will ever know those waters the way he knew them.  Even though he had stepped down from the day to day activities of Action Belize, he was always checking up on the well being of the staff and the guests.

     Many of you have a "Van Fishing Story" that needs to be told.  Please take the time to email it to: 

Those wishing to send a card to the family may do so through daughter Linda at:

Linda Patterson
901 Audubon Point Drive
Brandon, MS  39047

The family requests that memorials can be made to Hospice Ministries or the charity of your choice.


     My wife and I had the pleasure of knowing and fishing with Van for many years.  We were on his first Action Belize trip that hosted about 16 guests.

     Sharon and I fell in love with Belize and hosted fishing trips once or twice a year for about 15 years that spawned many interesting and humorous stories.  Here is one that should go to the top of the list.

     Van fine turned his guides, some of them came from commercial fishing so he had to spend time with them on rigging, how to act in front of his clients and other things.  Every now and then one of them would get excited and go a step farther, here is a really funny example.

     Van met us at the Belize airport and during the ride to the hotel I asked him how he was doing.  I have several anglers here, yesterday two of them had a slow day he said.  They caught a few fish but one of the other guides brought in a nicer catch so they asked me if they could switch guides the next day.   He told them he would ask the other anglers if it would be okay.  They said fine with them and they would switch guides.

     Later we were visiting with Van in the hotel lobby when two anglers walked in.  They looked tired.  Van said he better visit with them and see how they made out.  He sat down close enough so we could hear the conservation.  Here is how it played out.

Van:  How was your day?

Anglers:  It was a trip from Hell.

Van:   What happened.

Anglers:  We were running across a large bay when all of a sudden the guide spied a wild hog swimming across the bay.  He decided he had to take it home for dinner.  He pulled up on it, stuck his gaff in it and started to beat it with a fish club.  Blood and water sprayed everywhere, the motor stalled and we drifted into the shallow water close enough to the mangroves and the bugs joined us in full force.  By then the guide had switched to his fishing knife and started to stab the hog.  I looked at my buddy and said we better help him or we will never have time to fish.  We finally got the hog subdued, the only place we could put it was on the bow of the boat.  Of course we were down wind from it the rest of the day.  Do you have any idea how bad it smelled after being in the hot sun for several hours!

Van:   I am so sorry, I will refund your money and put you on a plane in the morning if you want.

Anglers:  Like hell you will; we also caught several nice size snook and snapper.  We can't wait to see what the guide has in store for us tomorrow.

     "Capt. Van" was a special friend.  When you were down or sick you did not just get a phone call.  He was at your door with, you guessed it, fresh made snook or redfish salad, a package of crackers and of course some liquid spirits.

      He enjoyed entertaining and cooking for people and was excellent at it.

      I fished with Van regularly in the Florida's Ten Thousand Islands and to echo John Smith comments about knowing the islands, he also learned the Belize waters to the same level.

     We miss him and feel blessed with all the memories of the fishing trips and his friendship.

     Red & Sharon Stier
      Isles of
Capri, FL


Obituary posted in Clarion Ledger, Jackson, MS

Action Belize has been serving the Belize market for over a quarter century! Unlike a mere booking agent, our full-time professional staff members stand ready to serve your every need. Our personal touch combined with a proven track record, will produce the performance and satisfaction you expect.

"I believe after 55 years fishing (mostly with guides), we have the top ten captains/guides in the Caribbean (in their field). The targets are tarpon, snook, cubera snapper, bonefish, permit, wahoo, jewfish, grouper, red snapper, kingfish, and all types of reef fish. If there are fish anywhere, our captain/guides know where and how. Whether fishing, cave tubing, diving, snorkeling, or sightseeing, our guides are first-class... outstanding in their field."

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