He will never know the impact he had on the people around him. As we sat at the boat landing feeling helpless, waiting to hear something from the search team, people began to show up. Some were just curious, but the majority were there to give support. They told us stories of their experiences with him. Some were touching stories. Some were funny, but they all brought smiles!
Wesley Gerome Haddon Jr. was a man like no other, caring and kind and always willing to help. He loved what he did and teaching others about commercial fishing.
We knew one day we would get a call. We had talked about what to do to avoid it. We were dreading it, but soon we were going to have to take him off the river, take away his freedoms in order to keep him safe. But God had other plans. Wesley had told us and everyone he knew that he wanted to die on that river. He’d spent his entire life on it.
Fishing with his father from a very young age, he had commercial fishing in his blood. The river was his home. We got the call. He went home one last time. His truck had been at the ramp for more than 24 hours. Panic set in, and then a calm. What could we do?
Next we met the men and women who answer the call in these situations: Leflore County Search and Rescue teams, the game wardens, and all the volunteers. They were all so kind. They included us in their planning, keeping us up-to-date each day. They never wavered, never gave up. They kept us going.
As the days wore on, we, his family, began to falter. We had hoped to find him quickly, maybe waiting on someone to pick him up or in the water at peace. We began to worry that he’d somehow climbed up the bank and couldn’t go farther and was suffering. Then word came he was found in the water. We were relieved. No more searching, no more worry. He passed how he wanted and was at peace. We could now grieve. He could rest.
Our family would like to express our thanks for all the prayers that have covered us during this time. We felt them. We would like to say thank you to the many people who helped the search effort: the boaters, the airplane and helicopter owners and pilots, the dog handlers, the search and rescue teams, and each and every person who came to search, whether on the clock or volunteering. We can never thank you enough for your willingness to keep going, your relentless passion for helping those of us who were hurting, and your genuine interest in our well-being. You inspired us. In honor of Wesley G. Haddon, we have set up a GoFundMe (https://gf.me/u/y8sy6w) to hopefully get enough funds to purchase the boats that Leflore County Search and Rescue needs to continue to serve our community, a community that Wesley Haddon loved.
Please consider a donation. It would make Wesley happy to think his passing could lead to something so good. Helping others meant a lot to him, more than we knew.
So many people came to share their stories of him. We would like to invite everyone who knew him, family and friends and people involved in the search, to come back and share again with us.
A memorial service is planned for Wesley G. Haddon Jr. this Saturday, Nov. 21. Please come at your convenience from 8 a.m. until noon at the Yazoo River boat launch between the bridges in Greenwood.
We look forward to hearing each story, each memory.