Fairways owner dies in boating accident

DOVER — The late Willis Duckery Sr. was remembered as a giving person and successful entrepreneur as word of his death on the Chesapeake Bay spread on Monday.

The body of Mr. Duckery, 57, was recovered by Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police several hours after his boat capsized during a fishing trip at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday.

The body of Fairways Inn owner Willis J. Duckery was pulled from the Chesapeake Bay Monday after the boat he was in capsized Sunday night. (Delaware State News file)

The body of Fairways Inn owner Willis J. Duckery was pulled from the Chesapeake Bay Monday after the boat he was in capsized Sunday night. (Delaware State News file)

Authorities said Maryland DNR divers located the body in water off Rock Hall; two others on the vessel were reported safe.

According to National Weather Service data, a severe thunderstorm with heavy rain and high winds swept through the Rock Hall area at about 9 p.m. The weather service said recorded northwest winds were at 45 mph at 9:06 p.m., with gusts exceeding 50 mph.

Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing Vice Chairman of the Board Herb Konowitz began posting his concerns online as early news of Mr. Duckery’s missing status spread locally. A flurry of posts expressed hopes for a positive outcome.

By early afternoon Monday, well-wishers began posting a steady stream of condolences on Mr. Duckery’s Facebook page.

After learning of Mr. Duckery’s death, Mr. Konowitz praised the late businessman’s contributions to the homeless shelter in Dover, including hiring members to assist in rebuilding the Fairways Inn topless tavern after it was destroyed by arson on July 4, 2013.

“He was just a super guy who was always ready to give a helping hand to people,” Mr. Konowitz said.

Mr. Duckery, a retired Air Force veteran who retired in 2002, bought the Fairways Inn with his wife Josephina in 2009, describing the site on U.S. 13 across from Garrisons Lake between Cheswold and Smyrna as a local landmark.

He also owned Will “D” Productions Inc., which staged concerts and comedy shows, and Will “D” Auto Connection just south of the Fairways Inn on U.S. 13.

After many delays during reconstruction of the Fairways Inn, the business re-opened in 2015, with Mr. Duckery committed to operating “not a gentleman’s club. It’s a local bar where everybody comes for a good time and the social atmosphere.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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