Gregory Kent “Whidaker” Eskridge, of Tangier Island, VA, passed away at his home on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Born June 21, 1952 on Tangier Island, he was the son of the late Ira Lee Eskridge and Bette Bee Sears Nohe.
Known by all as “The Whidaker” or “Whid” for short, he spent most of his childhood on Tangier working on the water with his father and other family members. He also helped his mother and grandmother operate and maintain the original “Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House.” He graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, in Baltimore, MD, and later joined the United States Navy. He proudly served aboard the Guided Middle Destroyer U.S.S. Cochran, engaging in combat duty during the Vietnam War, and upon honorable discharge, he returned to the island to work as a waterman.
In 1976, Whid constructed a crab shanty with docks and a crab shedding operation. He operated full time from the shanty harvesting and processing crabs, oysters, fish, and other seafood for over 25 years. A testament to his meticulous work, his crab shanty still stands strong in Tangier Creek, looking nearly the same as it did 45 years ago. Many locals, visitors, and waterman would frequent the Crab Shack to chat, play music, discuss the water business, and solve the world’s problems. Whid was always willing to share his knowledge of the water (and most anything else) with others, especially the younger men who were just learning the business. The Crab Shack was, and still is, a very special place. He was a talented musician and played the guitar in several bands, including the Space Riders and the Tangier Island Band, usually with his brother, Dan, on the drums.
After retiring from the water, he became a skilled carpenter and handyman. Families on the island relied on Whid for everything from changing a light bulb to building an entire home. No job was too small, and all were completed with pride. One of his special talents was “ruggin,” and he replaced many a carpet after the island experienced extreme high tides. He spent many winters in Ocean City, MD, helping his good friend, Lee Williams, build homes and remodel restaurants. Over the last four years, he spent most of his time in Salisbury, MD caring for his beloved companion, Beverly Moyer.
Never one to be short on conversation, humor, or practical jokes, Whid established a huge network of friends far and wide. He cared deeply for his family and friends and was always there to help anyone in need. People are often described as “one of a kind,” and in Whid’s case, no truer words were ever spoken. There will never be another one like him.
He is survived by his two sons, Gregory C. Eskridge and his wife, Aileen, of Midlothian, VA, and Aaron G. Dise and his wife, Jeanese, of New Kent, VA; as well as his loving brother, Daniel A. “Dan” Eskridge and his wife, Kathy, of Heathsville, VA; seven grandchildren; and many, many friends from all over.
It was Whid’s wish to be cremated and his ashes spread over the waters of his beloved and beautiful Chesapeake Bay, which his family will honor privately. Those who knew and loved Whid can pay tribute to his life by sharing laughter and good times with family and friends and by greeting the world each day with a smile.
Memories and words of comfort may be shared with the family at www.williamsfuneralhomes.com.
Arrangements by the Williams Funeral Homes, Onancock and Parksley, VA.