DAVIS ISLANDS — Next to his green armchair in the living room, Ernest MacBryde’s trophies and plaques all are on display.
Evidence of a lifetime of dedication to his country, his neighborhood and his boats hangs on the wall, with a photo of his wife, Janie, in the center.
In the bottom corner of the shrine, a framed cross-stitch pattern reads “The Gods do not subtract from Man’s allotted time the hours spent in sailing.”
That’s certainly the philosophy he lived by, his wife said. “Mac,” as he was more commonly known, died Aug. 8. The last surviving charter member of the Davis Islands Yacht Club, he would have been 100 years old next year.
“That was his life,” Janie MacBryde said about her husband’s passion for sailing. “That was his love.”
The Silver Gavel, the group of all the former commodores of the Davis Islands Yacht Club, will host a memorial service for MacBryde at the club in coming weeks. After the memorial, Janie MacBryde said a small group will take the club’s boat out and scatter his ashes at sea.
“He was quite the sailor,” said Lewis Hill, a friend and former commodore at the club. “He was a very friendly person.”
MacBryde was born and raised in Tampa, the grandson of George Horatio Packwood, an early South Tampa developer and the namesake of Horatio and Packwood Streets.
MacBryde was one in a group of 18 people who were instrumental in the creation of the Davis Islands Yacht Club in the 1930s, his wife said. He served as the club’s commodore twice.
“I always bragged about him,” Janie MacBryde said.
He joined the Coast Guard shortly before World War II. He knew he didn’t want to fight on land or in a trench, his wife said.
When the war broke out, he joined the Navy and ran convoys in the North Atlantic for troops headed to Europe. MacBryde was awarded the Bronze Star when the ship he captained sank a Nazi U-boat in the waters northeast of Boston.
After the war, he returned to Tampa and his boats and, after a few years of dating, got married. The MacBrydes would have celebrated 50 years of marriage in November.
“He was worth waiting for,” Janie MacBryde said.
The couple moved to their modest Davis Islands home in 1967, just a short trek to the nearby marina. MacBryde made a career working and traveling with Cargill International, a producer and marketer of food and agricultural services across the world.
He dedicated time to his neighborhood, too, Janie MacBryde said. After he retired, he served as president of the Davis Islands Civic Association and helped found THAN, the umbrella group for all the neighborhood associations in Tampa, his wife said. She also served in the civic association and the neighborhood watch.
“We have just had wonderful different experiences,” she said.
MacBryde’s Tartan 34 sailboat is still out in the Davis Islands marina. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to maintain it as well as he liked because of his failing health in the past few years.
Janie MacBryde said she had it appraised this week while she figures out what to do with it. She doesn’t know yet whether she should sell it or donate it to charity.
“That was his baby,” Janie MacBryde said. “I want it to go to someone who will love it and take care of it like Mac did.”
She said she is taking her time planning his memorial because she wants to be sure to give him “a good send-off.” She hopes to set a date for the service next week.
“I’m so glad I knew him,” Janie MacBryde said. “I’m so glad we got together.”