Lowell Wheatley, son of the late Lawrence and Venetia Wheatley was born at North Sound on June 15, 1946. After leaving the school he developed a thirst for the sea like his father and older brother Wilmore. However, his first real job was in 1963, working overseas for the company that was then doing the construction work on the Little Dix Bay resort. In this job, he was able to save enough money to buy a small boat and begin his own lobster fishing business.
In 1969 he moved to Anegada to fish for lobsters. While it was costly to travel back and forth from Anegada to North Sound daily, he built a lobster pool to preserve his catch until he could bring them to market. At the time, British businessman Kenneth Bates had leased the majority of Anegada from the British Government and was working on a massive development of Anegada as the “Anegada Development Corporation”. This work was very unpopular and eventually resulted in the termination of the project and lease by the government. Anegada began to return to its original state of peace and quiet. The halted development left behind many abandoned pieces of construction, one of which was the as yet unopened Anegada Reef Hotel. The abandoned 20-room building was then only used by visiting campers.
Lowell looked with interest on the abandoned twenty room hotel building which had devolved to a state of disrepair, knowing that by his hard work he could make a success from another’s failure. In 1976, after negotiating a lease with the Government, Lowell and his first wife, Vivian, took over the hotel property and began the task of renovating the abandoned buildings. Lowell became electrician, plumber, builder, carpenter, and painter while Vivian took over the tasks of housekeeping, kitchen and office administration. The dilapidated, weed-covered buildings were transformed into the Anegada Reef Hotel, a charming, comfortable inn, the foundation for many years of hospitality.
Lowell loved to go fishing on his 31′ Bertram “Dayang” and would sometimes dive for lobster. The first meal served at the Anegada Reef Hotel just a few months after moving in was to Captain Lucien Pickering and his two charter guests who enjoyed their fresh caught lobsters. They have been followed by countless sailors and charterers who look forward to the very special ambiance that Lowell and Vivian began. Over the following 18 years until his tragic and untimely death, he worked with vision, passion, and dedication so that the Hotel became the success it is now with all the guests who look forward to the very special ambiance of the Anegada Reef Hotel.
Over the years the hotel and its anchorage became a favorite stopover for visiting yachtsmen, and Lowell became a friend to all that visited.
During that time Lowell also made countless rescues of yachts and sailors that stumbled upon the treacherous Anegada reef at night and in weather so foul that no one else would dare to venture out. He had a strong sense of responsibility to Anegada visitors — whether he had ever met them or not.
Lowell was immensely proud of his two children Lawrence and Lorraine and looked forward to the day when he could hand over the business to them. He was with them in April, 2002 when they graduated from Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. Today Lawrence and Lorraine are carrying one their father’s legacy and continuing the tradition of hospitality, welcoming sailors and guests to Anegada.
Many people have known Lowell during his too brief, but full life. The following are words written by Walker Mangum, a friend of Lowell’s and a frequent visitor to Anegada.
“On July 13, 2002, a tragic accident took the life of Lowell Wheatley. Lowell was loved by all that knew him. He possessed that magic ability to make every one that he met feel like a lifelong friend. I know that Nancy and I both had very deep admiration and respect for him. He brought many happy times to us and is part of some our fondest memories. He was brilliant, energetic, thoughtful, kind, and had a wonderful sense of humor.
Lowell was one of those people that seemed to have endless energy. I cannot recall ever seeing him be still for more than an instant. Even at rest, I am certain that his mind was still racing. He was always engaged in a project at his beloved Anegada Reef Hotel, which was built into a place that was extraordinarily peaceful, pleasant and comfortable. In fact, he was frequently involved in numerous bits of improvement all over Anegada, and always had more things planned. Lowell believed that if anything was worth doing, it was worth doing properly. Sadly, the accident that took his life came while he was doing one of his favorite things — working.
This man was truly a larger-than-life character, a brother to all. No matter what the circumstance, you could count on a smile and a cheerful word from him. He put the sparkle in Anegada.
Lowell always had a vision of what was next, what would make life better, and he always worked toward that vision. That vision – call it a dream – did not just include Lowell; it included everything that was in Lowell’s life.
As fast as he accomplished the things that were part of his visions, he had new dreams and visions that replaced those accomplishments. I like to think of Lowell’s dreams for the future as being the landscape between him and the horizon. As fast as Lowell moved across that landscape toward that horizon, he was also having new dreams to replace those which he was reaching. Thus, his horizon was always moving also. Lowell had a passion for that landscape that stood between him and the horizon. Indeed, he had a passion for that horizon itself. Lowell never, ever stopped chasing that horizon. And Lowell lived for that chase. He loved that chase. He WAS that chase.
The world is indeed a much emptier place without him.
The images of Lowell above are from our own photos and from others who kindly contributed them. I hope that they will bring a smile to you and warmth to your heart, as they do for me.”