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Brad Watts – Farewell to a Friend

Brad WattsBy Molly McKeown

Recently our little community was rocked by the sudden passing of one the town’s most beloved residents, Brad Watts. Currently there is a palpable void in our community because we have lost a truly great man.  This loss has been compounded because we didn›t just lose a man, we also lost a charismatic musician with an irresistible smile, a respected business owner, a bad ass kayaker, a kick ass surfer and an amazing friend. Brad ‘Flip’ Watts was a one of a kind man. He had a huge heart, and an even bigger appetite for life, (and snacking . . . possibly in equal measure).

Brad WattsBrad’s love of whitewater was probably his most outstanding characteristic.  While listening to him talk about the river you could feel his love and deep respect for the water.  He could talk to you forever about the countless rivers that he had paddled, (from the New and Gauley in WV, to the Russell Fork in Kentucky and the Upper Youghiogheny in MD. to the Tallulah Gorge in GA. along with the Colorado and the Salt in AZ,). But there was something special that happened when he spoke about his most beloved Costa Rican rivers, the Savegre, Naranjo and Pacuare.  He was most passionate when talking about the class V section of the Upper Naranjo, called the Chorro.  I believe that this fast moving section of whitewater was one of Brad’s most favorite spots on the planet.

Brad WattsOne look at that ‘1000 Watt’ smile out there and there was no denying it,  Brad was comfortable in water, sometimes more so than on land.  There was an ease about him when he was out there, a natural state of being that suited him.  When coming up from a roll in his kayak or just after a sweet surf session in one of his favorite play holes, his face would be boasting the proof that he knew what pure joy felt like. Brad, purely and simply by being Brad, lead us by example and taught us so much.  He proved that no trip was too small, nor client pick up too far.

He put in an enormous amount of sweat equity into building Quepoa Expeditions, proving that no duty was beneath him.  He answered the phones, booked the trips, guided the rafts, provided safety kayaking, took the photos, and drove the guests.  He cleaned the PFD’s, he blew the boats, he responded to the emails, and created his own marketing materials.  He worked hard, all the while playing just as hard, because Brad understood the importance of play.  He knew that it had its’ own unique value that was not to be discounted as frivolous.  He taught us that work and having fun with your friends didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Brad WattsBrad’s love of whitewater took him to many fascinating spots around the globe, but what finally inspired him to make the permanent move from his Ohio town of Shaker Heights to Quepos, Costa Rica was his dream of starting his very own rafting company.  Brad didn’t just make his own dream a reality, he did one better, he gave many people the ingredients that were needed to make their own dreams a reality, self included.  And when Brad started to realize a certain degree of success he started bringing up others that were near and dear to him and we are all the better for that.  Brad offered so many of us a life here that we otherwise may never have found.  He was the leader of our tribe, the Quepoa Expeditions Tribe, and he will be deeply, deeply missed.

Brad is survived by his Mother, Amy Watts, one brother Jon and his wife and 3 children plus many more family and friends. He was 38


4 Responses to “Brad Watts – Farewell to a Friend”

  1. Mike Reider said:

    wow …. Here’s a guy that was living the dream in paradise …. seemed to be well liked … and had to have worked his ass off to make it in a foreign land and is gone way too soon … to all his family and friends I send my condolences .


  2. Dan Dean said:

    Wow, what a shock. God always chooses the good ones.


  3. Bobby said:

    great write up……thank you…….


  4. Jay McBroom said:

    Brad was a great man. Thank you for the writeup. I will be sure a make my pilgrimage to Costa Rica and find these great rivers that inspired Brad so much.. safety first.


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