After 20 years and 235 combat missions in Vietnam as a fighter pilot, Major Ken Beaird, up for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, made a monumental change in his life. Having grown up on the Texas Gulf Coast, Beaird—raised with saltwater in his veins—decided that his place was right here on the Emerald Coast. The impact on his life and his wife Fran would be tremendous, but the significance of Beaird’s choice of a new hometown would be paramount to our community.
Ken and his wife bought the Reveille II Charter Boat and the iconic Reveille Motel from Destin fishing legend Captain Trammel in 1977. For two years, Ken was both a major in the Air Force and a Captain in the Destin Charter Fleet until he opted to give up his life as a pilot of planes and go full time into piloting fishing trips.
“We lived there for seven years and we had the boat there. It was a nice little mom and pop operation,” Ken says. Guests paid $20 a night per person, $25 if they stayed in one of the motel’s kitchenettes. Even back in the winters of the late 1970s, Ken remembers Canadian Snowbirds staying for a month or two. “We charged as much per month then as they charge per night at today’s local hotels,” he recollects.
Heavily involved in the Chamber of Commerce with the businesses of accommodations and Charter Fishing, Ken served as a past president and board member of the Destin Chamber of Commerce. He also served his community as mayor during the community’s vital growing period and as the Destin Charter Boat Association president.
He worked hard for recreational fisherman and charter boat captains alike as a past president of the National Charter Boat Association. From longtime membership in the Destin Methodist Church to a prominent board member position with the Destin Fishing Rodeo, Ken has spent decades serving our community as a businessman and citizen willing to lead.
Wife Fran immediately stepped into the role of local businesswoman, chairing the committee that led to the incorporation of Destin as a city. She became Destin’s first city clerk and fought to keep the fishing village persona. She was instrumental in the building of the Mid-Bay Bridge and played a huge part in organizing the first Destin Seafood Festival and the Destin Christmas Parade.
“It wasn’t nearly as big as it is now,” Fran says of that first parade. “But everyone pitched in, and we made it something nice. Instead of just a charter boat organization parade, it was a community parade. And it’s been that way ever since.”
While Ken and Fran were busy in community activities, their daughters Kathy and Alicia were involved in booking fishing trips on the Reveille II and rooms in the motel.
The combined eight decades of dedication and service to the people of Destin have made the Beairds a part of this community’s rich history. They were recognized last year by the Destin Christmas Parade when they were made Grand Marshalls.
From the beaches of Texas to the beaches of Destin, our fishing village is lucky that that the Beaird family’s Air Force career landed them here. Ken and Fran are excellent examples of what future Warriors to Hometown Heroes should strive to be.
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