Family, friends farewell Shawn
SHAWN WILLIAMS was wearing his customary huge smile and calling out to his best mate Marcus that the water was ‘beautiful’ moments before he vanished in the surf off Suffolk Park onTuesday.
Yesterday, 72 hours later, his family and more than 50 friends gathered for a ceremony at the fatal spot to say their farewells to the ‘gorgeous, cheeky angel’.
Shawn was found on Thursday morning, about 1km away. His wife Tamara and her friends were able to spend some time with him, brushing sand off his face.
“He looked so peaceful,” Tamara said yesterday.
“We all prayed his body would be found. It was a godsend,” she said.
Shawn, 32, had everything to live for. A US citizen who had been in Australia for a year, he and Tamara had got married eight weeks ago at Broken Head.
“I’ve never seen Tamara so happy,” her father Haig Maloney said.
Shawn was to return to his home town of Chicago next week to sort out his visa papers, in order to settle in the beachside suburb he had come to love.
And despite the short time he was in Byron Shire, the people of the area had come to love him.
“Everyone loved him,” his wife said. “I loved him from day one. I never felt so good in someone’s arms.
“I just wanted to touch and hug him all the time, because I felt there was never enough time.”
She said she had given him ‘no personal space’.
“We lived in a shoebox, and I’m so glad of that now, though I cursed it at the time.”
The Mid-Western native had not grown up with the ocean and was just becoming accustomed to it.
“He loved to swim, loved the dolphins and the simple things in life,” said a friend.
Shawn had been a US serviceman and was solidly built.
But he was always courteous, positive and ‘the straightest guy I’ve ever met’, Marcus said.
“And without doubt the coolest cat, who could look sharp in five minutes.
“He had humility and acceptance of people at all levels,”Marcus said. “His smile would light up a room.”
Marcus had been Shawn’s best man, and the American called him ‘Dad’ because he kept a paternal eye on him when swimming.
Blueberry muffins and bottles of Sprite lay alongside flowers in a heart carved into the sand – Shawn was quite a food lover.
His body is to be returned to his family in the US.