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Tuesday, January 15 , 2019, 10:14 pm | Mostly Cloudy 53º


Local Commercial Fishermen Honor Patrick Becker, One of Their Own

In a show of solidarity, boats float out near Leadbetter Beach in remembrance of the 21-year-old Santa Barbara man

Dozens of local commercial fishermen and their families began gathering at the Santa Barbara Harbor around noon Friday, a number that gradually grew to hundreds.

Some clutched colorful flowers, but most wore black, a show of solidarity and respect for the 21-year-old Santa Barbara man they all came to honor one last time.

Like most members of the Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, urchin diver Stephanie Mutz had never known Patrick Thomas Becker, a 2011 graduate of Dos Pueblos High School who passed away unexpectedly nearly two weeks ago in a manner his family did not wish to share.

Mutz knew his father, Mark Becker, a longtime local who fished lobster and salmon, often with his son Patrick at his side, and sometimes in Alaska for weeks at a time.

Patrick’s mother, Martha, works at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, and his younger brother, Matt, is a pro surfer.

“The family is pretty phenomenal,” Mutz said, glancing around. “I’ve never seen so many fishermen in collared shirts.”

News of Patrick’s death hit home for members of the community-based fisheries organization, prompting thoughts of their own sons, many of whom help out as deck hands from time to time.

Per tradition, the organization arranged for its members to boat out near Leadbetter Beach for a memorial and interment of ashes.

Patrick Thomas Becker

“He was following his dad’s footsteps as a fisherman,” family friend Karen Purdue said. “He’d always come and jump on me and give me a big hug. He grew up around boats. His life was all about the ocean.”

Friends said Patrick’s end-of-summer plans had fallen through, so he fittingly spent the last few weeks of his life with his family, traveling to Hawaii with his parents.

Purdue’s son, Trae, 18, knew Patrick from school as a member of the surf and water polo teams. He was loyal to friends and subsequently had a lot of them — evident from the number assembled Friday.

“He was always a happy, joyful person,” he said.

After a ceremony at Free Methodist Church on Cliff Drive, where the Beckers are members, lei-wearing locals yelled for all family and friends gathered at Navy Pier near Harbor Way to find a boat. They had nearly 50 to choose from.

On cue, the Becker family boat, “Martha Jane,” began leading a processional out past Leadbetter to waters just below the cliffs at Shoreline Park, where another crowd waited.

“Do a big circle, Mark, there’s a lot of boats,” a fisherman called over the radio.

Boats form a circle around the "Mary Jane," the Becker family boat, on Friday for a ceremony near Leadbetter Beach honoring Patrick Becker, who passed away two weeks ago. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Hooting and hollering could be heard as the fishing fleet circled Becker’s boat, which idled in the middle before some of its passengers jumped into the ocean and spread some of Patrick’s ashes.

“I want to tell you once again I appreciate everyone being here,” Mark Becker said over the radio. “Patrick is honored, I know he is.”

A pastor offered a prayer, and Patrick’s brother and mother also thanked their friends.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he would’ve been blown away,” Martha Becker said. “Thank you. This is a beautiful sight.”

Boats blew horns, set off flares, sprayed water and shared memories of Patrick over the radio, calling the organization a “tribe” they were fortunate to take part in.

“Rest in peace, Patrick,” one said.

The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes before boats turned back to the harbor, and celebrants continued on to a barbecue on the beach.

The fleet happily left part of Patrick in the ocean, where he could go on catching the fish and waves he so enjoyed.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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