He had a love of hot sauces and spices, a passion for fishing and a dedication to community.

He had two sons, three step children, two step grandchildren and a wife – Helen.

He also, apparently, had a love of wildlife.

Bill Jenkins was running a charter fishing trip Thursday when he noticed a sea turtle tangled in some sort of rope a couple of miles off Virginia Beach. A little after noon, he decided to jump in to free the creature. When he began to struggle, members of his charter jumped in to help, as another called 911 for help. Nearby charter boats raced to the scene, as did city marine police and the Coast Guard.

A police department press release said Jenkins was raced to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

He was 53.

“This one is a tough one to swallow,” said Alex Bell, who knew Jenkins well. “He was a really good guy for sure and had an infectious smile.

“I feel really bad for his family.”

Jenkins had served on the Virginia Beach Police Department from 2002 to 2011, leaving the force on a medical retirement, according to a statement from police.

He had been running fishing charters during that time and continued to after leaving the force.

Capt. Herb Gordon met him at Marina Shores when he was first getting started.

“We were dock mates,” Gordon said. “When I retired I sent a lot of business his way. I’m really sorry to hear that he died.

“He was a good guy with a big heart.”

Bill Knapp spent about 12 years on Jenkins’ boat as a mate and grew extremely close to him. Knapp’s son works at the seafood business.

The two leaned on each other often and Knapp was crushed when he got the call of Jenkins’ death.

“We got each other through a lot of hard times, man,” Knapp said, his voice choking. “He was really religious and would give you the shirt off his back.

“He really touched a lot of people and this is a real shocker to all of them

Lendy’s Cafe owner Kent von Fecht Jr., met Jenkins a few months ago when the captain approached him about making hot sauces for his other business – Captain’s Choice Seafood.

He was stunned to hear the news Thursday afternoon.

“I had just talked to him around 11 that morning,” von Fecht Jr. said. “He was running a charter and one of us was going to run up to Richmond today (Friday) to pick up 100 sauce bottles.

“He had approached me about sauces and I took his seasonings and made something for him that was really good. He loved it and was starting to do really well with it.”

Once news of Jenkins’ death started to spread, fellow anglers and friends blew up social media with memorials.

“He was one of those one-of-a-kind guys,” Bell said. “He was gracious enough to include a bunch of us on his first batch tastings.”

Bell said Jenkins had a great sense of humor.

“We were out spadefishing with the kids and there were kids on other boats,” Bell said. “He was next to us and I look over and he’s got this big tyrannosaurus rex head on while he’s fishing.

“Everybody was laughing like crazy, especially the kids.”

The turtle was spotted by several anglers trolling near the beach on Saturday. On a Facebook video of the turtle the author wrote that the Marine Stranding Team had been notified.

As of Sunday morning, it appears that the turtle was rescued. Family and friends have said it was a sign that Jenkins was still watching out for it.

Jenkins’ family will welcome guests from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 27 at Wave Church on Great Neck Road. His funeral service will follow at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments on Laskin Road.

Editor’s note: The police department says the incident is still under investigation.


  • Mike cehrs
    Posted June 19, 2020 2:38 pm 1Likes

    Damn what a shame. Prayers for his family.

  • Ron Loving
    Posted June 19, 2020 8:39 pm 1Likes

    I was on Fairfield fire department with him good guy . Sorry to hear of his passing

  • Beth Barrineau
    Posted June 19, 2020 11:15 pm 1Likes

    So so sorry to his family and friends. What a beautiful tribute you wrote about him, wish I’d have met him. Love and prayers xo

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