Remembering Wayne Teeter
By Pat Garber
Ocracoke old-timers believed that when an Ocracoker was going to die, the island’s roosters would crow repeatedly in mournful tones. On Sunday morning, March 9, the roosters along O’Neal drive crowed non-stop, even as the news arrived that Wayne Teeter, a man who was “as Ocracoke as you could get,” had just passed.
Wayne Teeter was, according to his friend Jerry Midgett, “a true Ocracoker, who didn’t put on airs. What you saw was what you got.” Wayne was involved in all aspects of Ocracoke life, including commercial fishing, taking out hunting parties, running the Pony Island Restaurant, the Tradewinds Bait and Tackle Shop, the Ocracoke Crab Company, and serving as Hyde County Commissioner. While commissioner, he was instrumental in getting the North Carolina Teachers (NCCAT) established in the old Coast Guard Station.
Born the son of Frank and Iona Teeter in 1945, he grew up with his brother Carl “Toad” Teeter and his sister, Linda Boos Garrish in a house near Ocracoke’s British Cemetery. He spent his youth swimming in the Creek, gigging for flounder, fishing in Pamlico Sound and riding Beauty, his Banker pony. He was a member of the Ocracoke Mounted Boy Scout Troop.
He attended Ocracoke School but did not finish his formal education. He often told people that “one of the biggest regrets of my life was that I dropped out of school in 9th grade.” he would add, “I should,have quit in the seventh.”
Wayne served in the Coast Guard for 10 years. He greatly valued his service there and recommends it for all of Ocracoke’s young men. While in the Coast Guard, Wayne married Belinda Styron, an Ocracoke girl with a beautiful voice. They lived in Morehead City until his discharge. They then moved back to Ocracoke and were together until her death in 2002.
Back on the island, Wayne ran several businesses as well as resuming the fishing career he loved.
Rudy Austin recalls that they began pound netting and rock-fishing together in the late ‘70s. Wayne also did beach fishing, using dories to net speckled trout, drum, and rockfish, as well as clamming, and crabbing.
While running the Tradewinds, he took duck and goose hunting parties to Portsmouth Island in his boat. He was the first one, remembers Midgett, to plant clams up behind the island and maintain clam beds.
Ben O’Neal, who drove the fish truck at Wayne’s Ocracoke Crab Company from 1989 until 1999, remembers that “Wayne always liked to give. He wanted to make money at the fish house, but he’d rather have one of the fishermen make money than himself.”
Danny Wynne, who sold his fish at Wayne’s fish house, said that Wayne always had time for everybody, even the small fishermen who only had 50 or so pounds of fish. ”He helped out a lot of fishermen,” according to Danny.
After Belinda died, Wayne eventually began spending time with Ada Fulcher, an island girl whom he had known all his life, and they were married nearly 10 years ago. “One day we took a walk,” she recalls, “and we never stopped walking.”
Along with their home on Ocracoke, Wayne and Ada built a small house, “Teeter’s Camp,” on a piece of land Ada owned at the “Straits” in Carteret County. They also bought a pickup truck camper and began traveling– something that, according to Ada, Wayne had always wanted to do. They went to Alaska, Texas, Arizona and Florida, among other places.
Their yard always sported an impressive raised garden, which Wayne loved. Ada did the gardening, but she did it mostly for him. He also loved to cook, says Midgett: “Fish, ducks, geese, you name it.” And, added Ada, he loved to eat.
Wayne loved children, and always took time with them, according to his friends. He had two step-daughters and two step- grandchildren, along with a niece and nephew and great nephews and nieces, all of whom he adored. He and Ada attended the Assembly of God Church on Ocracoke, where Wayne occasionally chimed in by calling out, “Glory!” his favorite phrase. He liked to greet people by calling out, “Good Morning!” regardless of the time of day. When asked how he was, he would answer, “Just right!”
Always trying new activities, Wayne recently had a crab-shedding business in his garage, selling soft-shell crabs. He had just been out to his pound nets, floundering, says Ada, before his death, and he was getting ready to start shedding crabs again.
“He was one of a kind,” reminisces his friend Earl Gaskins. “He always looked at the bright side of things.”
Wayne’s service was held on March 14 at the Assembly of God Church, and he was buried in the Ocracoke Community Cemetery with a military tribut