There was laughter as well as tears — lots of laughter — as a standing room-only audience celebrated Jose Wejebe's life Sunday afternoon.
Wejebe, the popular host of the "Spanish Fly" television show on the Outdoor Channel, died April 6 when the small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after take-off in Everglades City.
Disbelief and shock were the words used to describe the reaction to Wejebe's death at the age of 54 by his family, friends and fans who gathered at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum. But those who spoke also talked about how humble and modest Wejebe was, how much fun he was to be with and how he connected to everyone he met.
"He had that quality, I don't know what the word is for it, but he could make you feel that you were a big part of his life," said Tommy Sanders of JM Associates, which produced "Spanish Fly," which first aired on ESPN2 in 1995.
"He was so down to earth, when you met him, you felt like you'd known him for 20 years," said Gary Ellis, the founder of the Redbone Celebrity Fishing Tournament series, which has raised millions of dollars for cystic fibrosis research.