Obituaries – 01-06-2021

‘Paddle Out’ planned for ‘Sol Man’ remembrance

Friends of Michael “Sol Man” Steach of Holmes Beach are organizing a surfer-style memorial known as a “Paddle Out” in the spring.

The event organizers seek to break a “paddle out” world record in honor of Steach, who died Nov. 19, 2020. The event will be for 5-8 p.m. May 8, with more details to come later in the year.

“He touched so many people’s lives on the Island he loved,” Erin Hughey, his life partner, wrote in a Jan. 4 notice to The Islander.

Hughey said boats would be welcome, observing Steach’s love for fishing.

Steach was born May 5, 1964, and arrived to Anna Maria Island in 1991.


Carl M. Voyles

Dr. Carl M. Voyles Jr., 98, died Dec. 31, 2020. He was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, to Gertrude Hall and Carl Marvin Sr.

He did not make it to his goal of being 100, but the family thinks God gave him extra credit for the amazing life he lived.

The family celebrates his life with memories of his service to others and to his country, his accomplishments, his adventures, his continual desire to learn and practice new skills.

He was a resident of Anna Maria for more than 30 years. He was a familiar participant in local veterans’ events as he proudly wore his Navy captain’s uniform —  he could still fit into it.

He was a founding member of the Artists’ Guild of Anna Maria. His focus then was writing. Through that organization, in 1989, he met his future wife, Joan Abrahamson.

Together they enjoyed a life highlighted by a shared and growing interest in the visual arts.

Their home is filled with drawings and paintings, some documenting their trips to Europe including focuses on France, Iceland, Venice, and cruises with his stepson, Erik.

He also enjoyed working in the backyard of his Anna Maria home with his various types of bamboo.

Just a few blocks away, the CMV on the Anna Maria City Pier sign indicates his poetic contribution to the island he loved.

For years, the couple did long swims in the Gulf and Bay with snorkels and fins. Then golfing at nearby Key Royale became a focus for him. One year he won the club Over 70 Championship.

He earned his retirement life in Anna Maria. But, true to his nature, he became a doctor serving islanders and tourists in the 1980s and 1990s in a walk-in clinic in Holmes Beach.

For 25 years, he worked as a contract doctor for Manatee County Health Department.

He was a bit embarrassed but pleased when the Manatee County Commission designated Feb. 15, 2015, as “Dr. Carl M. Voyles Day” for his service to the county.

He said he learned much from the youth in the Juvenile Detention Center and enjoyed using his French and Spanish language skills with Immigration & Naturalization services, at the county jail and health clinics.

Because his father was a college football coach, the family moved to various college communities.

When his father was recruited to be part of the Duke University coaching staff, the family moved to Durham, North Carolina, where Dr. Voyles completed his high school education and became an avid, lifelong basketball “Dukie.”

When his father became head football coach at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, Dr. Voyles enrolled in William and Mary as a pre-med student.

It was during this time, on a Sunday morning, that he heard car horns honking and people shouting that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Just a few days after the dramatic start of World War II, he enlisted.

He was part of an accelerated medical program at Duke University Medical School during the war. He interned at Johns Hopkins and then was drafted.

As part of his military training, he became a flight surgeon, a doctor who cared for the pilots. Flight surgeons learned to fly so they could be more understanding of the pilots they treated. Because of his early flight training, he became an avid X-Plane pilot on his desktop computer simulator.

After his military service, he returned to Duke and completed advanced medical training in cardiology/internal medicine.

When his specialized medical training was complete, he moved to St. Petersburg and opened a cardiology practice with fellow Duke graduate, Dr. Charlie Rast. Their office was across the street from what is now Bayfront Medical Center, then Mound Park Hospital. Those were busy days of house calls in the middle of the night and visiting patients in three hospitals before office time.

In1966, he volunteered for a three-month American Medical Society program to help the Vietnamese government during the war. He served in the civilian hospital in DaNang, South Vietnam.

His work with this hospital and the Vietnamese changed him and the direction of his career. The notes of his experiences were dictated and mailed home where his daughter, Kitty, typed them. These experiences were shared periodically in the St. Petersburg Times. They were later formalized in his book, “Vignettes of Vietnam.”

After his stint in Vietnam, he returned to the states but not to private practice. He enlisted in the Navy and was loaned by the U.S. government to the South Vietnamese government to return to Da Nang and formally help with the training of South Vietnamese medical students.

He was invited to help doctors at the Hue Medical Hospital but needed additional training stateside. The “training pause” saved his life, as the Hue Hospital was overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers and the medical staff was slaughtered. These experiences were woven into the plot of another of his books, “Voyage in a Red Canoe.”

He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his dedication and service in Vietnam. He returned home from Vietnam to a Navy career stateside. His 30-year career in the Navy. He was chief of outpatient services at Bethesda Medical Center, which served many political leaders, including presidents. He worked in Navy hospitals in Newport, Rhode Island, on the submarine community at Kittery, Maine, and was in charge of the U.S. Navy Hospital in Iceland for two years before retiring in 1984.  Another of his books, “Angles and Dangles and other Sea Stories,” reflects some of these experiences.

Special appreciation goes to Tidewell Hospice and the staff at the Health Center in Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton. With the COVID-19 pandemic, plans are private within the immediate family at this time. Cremation is being handled by Brown and Sons Funeral home.

He is survived by his wife, Joan; daughter Kitty and husband Richard Gonzalez; grandsons Ryan and Drew Gonzalez of Windermere; stepson Erik Abrahamson of Sarasota; nieces and nephews; and furry children Duke and Carolina.

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