Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Castle Rings with Music Friends, Family Bid Farewell to Drummer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Castle Rings with Music Friends, Family Bid Farewell to Drummer

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy, Shorelines staff writer

Jim Longacre celebrated life with songs. Sunday, his friends and family remembered him with songs when they gathered for his memorial service in a castle by the sea.

The Atlantic Beach resident, a drummer, died May 18 from a long-term illness. He was 47.

One of his favorite places was Castle Otttis, a medieval style, four-turreted structure on Florida A1A in Vilano Beach. Longacre, who worked a second career as a personnel director and a third career as a master carpenter, was always a musician at heart. So loved ones planned a ceremony in his favorite place and filled it with his favorite music.

They climbed stairs to the stone castle's second floor and sat on wooden benches in a room with a sawdust-covered floor. Sunlight streamed in from the open windows, locusts hummed in the trees beyond and Sandy Herrault played Danny Boy on an Irish fiddle.

Then the Rev. Burl Hay, pastor from First Coast Community Church and one of Longacre's best friends, stood up and asked everyone to join along in singing all five verses of Amazing Grace.

"This was Jim's favorite hymn," he said. "Sing it in honor of him."

Longacre's 20-year-old son, Todd, read a poem and Christine Hurley of Ponte Vedra Beach sang Angel.

Hurley, a friend of Longacre, and his fiancee, Eileen Loney, said she has toured nationally with the bands Starship, Toto, Loverboy and Survivor.

Hurley sang, with others joining her: "You spend all your time waiting for that second chance . . . for the break that would make it OK . . . there's always some reason to feel not good enough . . . and it's hard at the end of the day."

Longacre's friends said he occasionally talked about his younger days playing with different bands across the country. He was trying to start a band of his own with buddy Danny Mulhern of Ponte Vedra Beach shortly before he died.

"Jim and I were friends," said Mulhern. "I hope he's rocking now." He sang If You Could Read My Mind , a song about being "in a castle dark or a fortress strong/With chains upon my feet/You know that ghost is me . …

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