I never had the chance to meet William Earl "Gator" Farrington. He was a businessman, a veteran, and a hero. He passed away the Sunday before New Year's. He was 88 years old and lived a long full life. I knew of Gator through his restaurant. I would have enjoyed a chance to hear the stories he would have had to share.
I know of Mr. Farrington from Gator's Seafood which my wife pointed out to me on one of our trips to Navarre. The name grabbed me and the sign said see live gators. When I lived in Florida my first time in my formidable kid years between 6 and 12 I had a fascination with alligators. My parents probably thought this was unhealthy and may have contributed to us moving to Maine. I know my Mom chewed out my brother's teacher for giving him detention once. Something about me walking home five blocks taking several hours since I had to say hi to my reptilian friends. I could imitate their calls and literally call them to shore. A good skill to have when visitors come to town and to worry parents. My voice has since changed and I have since lost that skill. (The picture is William Earl "Gator" Farrington from his obituary in the Pensacola News Journal.)
I thought the establishment might have alligators in captivity and the place was named after the alligators. I was wrong on both accounts. The alligators were wild and free. Gator's Seafood was named after Gator who founded the restaurant with his wife. The restaurant is open on weekends during the summer and is located outside Milton, Florida. Picture on the right is a sign by the door at Gator's Seafood photo by me.
Above an alligator swims in the lake behind Gator's Seafood (picture by me.)
The story of how Mr. Farrington earned his nickname can be read inside the menu of Gator's Seafood. He earned his nickname by killing an alligator at the age of 13 and dragging the five foot critter out of the lake by it's tail. Witnesses to this feat called him "Gator" and the name stuck!
He served his country in World War II and the Korean War serving in the United States Navy. I assume he would have had some great tales to tell from the wars. He also loved serving his community.
He will be missed by his patrons, family, neighbors, country and people like me who never got the chance to meet the man.