When I moved here in May of 1999, two of the first people I met were Edd Fleckenstein and Sheree Williams.
Edd owned Fermentations Wine Bar in Seaside — the perfect small, intimate, and cozy town watering hole where you could go and always see friends. It was Seaside’s first stand-alone bar. Edd was always there behind the bar. My daughter was the same age as his and they attended school together.
Back when the shoulder season here was a lot slower and there were a lot less people, everyone here knew everyone else and Fermentations offered its location as a place locals could bring their own tapas and hang out with other locals during the shoulder season.
Fermentations closed Jan. 1, 2005. On the last day the bar was open, I dropped in to purchase a souvenir wine glass with the name “Fermentations” on it. I continued to run into Edd at WaterColor’s Publix and it was always good to see him and chat.
Sheree Williams was another person I met when I first moved here. Sheree was one of the first photographers on 30A. Her images were unmistakable and iconic. She was genius at capturing the perfect lighting and coaxing a natural playfulness from her subjects. She liked working with film, preferring black and white or sepia. She set the bar high for beach photos at that time as South Walton was right then on the cutting edge and emerging as a destination. She was the much-sought-after dream photographer, guided by her instincts, and it showed in her images.
Sheree and I also had daughters who were the same age and in school together. When she heard that my son was moving back to Alabama, she offered to take pictures of our family unit on the beach before he left. The result of that shoot rests on a shelf in my living room. I treasure them and always think of her when I look at it and am forever grateful to her for taking the shots.
Edd and Sheree were both one- of-a-kind and individuals and their love of and contributions to South Walton residents will always be remembered.
Sheree and Edd both passed away in November, Sheree in Georgia, and Edd at his home in South Walton, and social media sites bore testimony to the loss felt by many as friends and family shared photos and memories.
“I never ran into Edd where he didn’t greet me with a handshake and a huge smile,” said 30A Local Realtor Bobby Johnson. “He was one of those guys that made you feel good. He will be dearly missed.”
“I also remember Edd’s great personality and smile,” said Ed Berry, owner of For The Health of It.
“Sheree was one of a kind,” said local author Lynn Nesmith of her friend. “She was a talented artist who loved to break the rules and make people laugh. Sheree was the original portrait photographer. Although Sheree didn’t invent khaki shorts and white linen tops, she was the first to dress a family in that uniform and march them through the sand at sunset for a beach portrait. Her unique style set the bar for scores of others who followed in her footprints. Sheree could always capture on film the essence of a family she had just met or her dearest friends. In an era of a million selfies and iPhone shots, Sheree and her printed black-and-white images are timeless. So sad to lose two creative folks who shaped early 30A.”
“Sheree was a true and talented artist,” agreed local photographer Valerie Lofton.
The two are missed. May they rest in peace. Sympathy goes out to their families.
Deborah Wheeler is a staff writer for The Walton Sun. She may be reached at 267-4555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column Personally Yours appears when the spirit strikes.