A Summer Camping Trip, Fishing for Blues and Swimming with the Sharks

@ChrisKaton

CAPE COD, MA (1980)

As a boy Papa would often wake us at Four a.m.

He would rustle Mark, Jeff and I from our sleeping bags and we would scuffle from our tent.

I remember a snapshot moment of he and Great Uncle Jack hunched over a campfire, warming coffee, frying bacon and flipping eggs.

“They’re running today Jack,” Papa said. “We’re going to fill the boat.” 

And we’d believe him. It was Bluefish season on Cape Cod and my grandfather and his brother had been fishing these waters their entire lives. 

Raised as depression-era first generation Portuguese immigrants in a sleepy Southeastern Massachusetts farm town, my grandfather Lou and his brother Jack Katon spoke broken English, were always together and by all accounts were best of friends.

Early memories include countless hours exploring Uncle Jack’s barn and running through his fields. It was the home of Christmas night and invokes the smell of…

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Leaping for the stars

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC – Heritage Academy Senior Britnee Kratochvil will receive the 2013 Jeff Katon Memorial Scholarship at her school awards night Tuesday evening.

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Britnee, who maintained a 4.94 overall GPA taking all honors or AP classes, will attend Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia next fall. She will major in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Equine Science as she continues on her path toward a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

“My chosen educational and career path is a very demanding area of study, which I feel prepared to tackle,” she said.

In an essay to the selection committee, Britnee explained her lifelong passion for horses and demonstrated the ability to balance a demanding training schedule with rigorous school work.

During her interview, she showed the character trait of turning negatives into positives and distinguished herself as someone who was determined to succeed.

Britnee’s parents are Lynne and Mark Kratochvil of Island West, Bluffton. Lynne, a teacher at Heritage Academy, composed a letter to the foundation on behalf of her daughter.

“When we moved to Hilton Head I was concerned as a parent and educator because I know the impact a major move can have on a child,” Mrs. Kratochvil said. “However, Britnee took the move in stride and never missed a step academically, always making the Distinguished Honor Roll.”

Mrs. Kratochvil explained that her daughter has always worked hard to achieve excellent academics and in middle school she began her seriousness for her extra-curricular activity of being an avid equestrian.

“In high school her desire to compete became even stronger and she began her travels throughout the Southeast competing at many different levels,” Mrs. Kratochvil said.

Britnee has competed at the local and Progressive Show Jumping levels and has earned many accolades. She has also been honored with several sportsmanship awards throughout her equestrian career.

“As a parent I could not be more proud of the teenager and young adult that she has become,” her mother said.

Committee members were impressed with the lessons Britnee learned from her father Mark Kratochvil. He is owner of Dan’s Fan City in Plantation Park, Bluffton. The store was destroyed by arson as a diversion for a jewelry store robbery in November 2010.

“My Dad taught me to never lose sight of what’s really important in life and that’s being there for those you love,” she said.

The Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation is a private tax-exempt foundation established in loving memory of Jeffrey Paul Katon, who died in August 2006.

This scholarship is available to any student living in Beaufort County, South Carolina, who has a GPA of 3.0/4.0, is planning to attend a four year accredited college and demonstrates financial need.

Since its inception in 2007, the Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation has awarded nearly $20,000 to Beaufort County students to help them pay for college.

 The foundation’s mission is to give something back to the Hilton Head Island community that Jeff called home.

A committee of Jeff’s family and friends gather each spring to interview finalists and award scholarship funds to students who best exhibit Jeff’s qualities of generosity and friendship. Britnee headlined an impressive class of students representing high school students across Beaufort County.

In her essay to the committee, Britnee said “If I were to receive this scholarship, it would help me to receive the best education possible so that I could move onto one of the top veterinary schools in the country and then begin saving the lives of hundreds of horses in my career.”

“I believe that I would be emulating Mr. Katon, in the sense that I would be exhibiting his qualities of kindness and generosity, because just as Mr. Katon did, I would be doing anything for anyone and expecting nothing in return.”

The Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation was established as a charitable fund in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, a local nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. All contributions to the Jeff Katon Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry are fully tax deductible as allowable by law.

To donate on-line, click on:http://www.cf-lowcountry.org/give/donate-online, once there select the Jeff Katon Scholarship Fund.

Where are they now?

From left, Jeff’s mom, Joyce Katon with scholarship recipients Madison Howell (2009), Emily Natoli (2008) and Lauren Stickles (2007) welcomed golfers to the 2010 Jeff Katon Memorial Golf Tournament in Palmetto Dunes.

On behalf of the Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation, we extend our sincere congratulations to 2009 scholarship recipient Emily Natoli, who graduated from Vanderbilt University this weekend!

Emily is celebrating her success with a road trip with one of her best friends to Los Angeles this week.

“Next year I am going to be a Teach for America Corps Member in Houston, TX teaching middle school English at YES Prep Northside!,” she said.

During the Vanderbilt commencement ceremony, Mr. Robert Bruininks was quoted on the university Twitter page as saying, “Investment in our young people is an investment in our prosperity.”

At the Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation, we couldn’t agree more. It has been our mission since our inception to support Beaufort County emerging leaders as they chase their dreams.

The Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation is a private tax-exempt foundation established in loving memory of Jeffrey Paul Katon, who died in August 2006.

This scholarship is available to any student living in Beaufort County, South Carolina, who has a GPA of 3.0/4.0, is planning to attend a four year accredited college and demonstrates financial need.

Since its inception in 2007, the Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation has awarded nearly $20,000 to Beaufort County students to help them pay for college.

Our inaugural scholarship recipient, Lauren Stickles, was graduated Clemson University last year.

“I’m just finishing up my first year as an Emergency Room Nurse at AnMed Health. It’s a hospital in Anderson, SC. I absolutely love it!”

Lauren will travel to Charleston next month to complete a course to become a forensic nurse examiner for sexual assault cases that come through the ER.

At College of Charleston, 2010 JPK Scholarship recipient Madison Howell is also doing well.

“It’s been a tough but great year at school,” she said. “I’m still a biology major, and I plan to be a genetic counselor or do genetic research particularly with twins and multiple births.”

“After I graduate next year, I’m getting married and my plans really depend on where my fiancé Blake gets accepted to dental school. Hopefully it’s somewhere with a lot of research opportunities or a graduate school.”

2012 JPK Scholarship recipient Justin Shaw struggled with his transition to Clemson University this past fall.

“I remember walking out of my first day of college calculus class thinking, ‘This is not going to be anything like high school.” he said.

In a letter to the committee, Justin said he attended seminars on how to transition from high school to college life, how to ace college exams and organized a calculus study group.

Justin finished his first semester with a 4.0 average, making the Presidents List.

This year, Justin’s plans include helping peers who find it stressful transitioning from high school to college. He has recently been hired as a Supplemental Instruction Leader due to his academic success. Justin is also an active member of the Eta Psi chapter of Sigma Pi at Clemson, where he serves on the fraternity philanthropy board.

The Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors is impressed with Justin’s commitment to excellence and has awarded him a $1,000 continuing education scholarship for 2013.

The Jeff Katon Scholarship Foundation was established as a charitable fund in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, a local nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. All contributions to the Jeff Katon Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry are fully tax deductible as allowable by law.

To donate on-line, click on:http://www.cf-lowcountry.org/give/donate-online, once there select the Jeff Katon Scholarship Fund.

A letter to Jeff on his 39th Birthday

When I close my eyes I can see you smile. I can hear you laugh. We can play golf together.
It was seven years ago today that I arrived on Hilton Head to open Aqua.
You and Aaron had played golf at Belfair and were watching March Madness waiting for me to drive in from Adam’s sister’s house outside of D.C.
I remember showing up to your condo in Palmetto Dunes, hoisting a beer, then heading out the door for dinner at Red Fish and popping corks on a bottle of Cakebread at Santa Fe Cafe before watching a movie and crashing much too late.
Of course we had no way of knowing it then, but it would be your last birthday and to Mom, Dad, Missy, Mark & I you’ll always be 32.
After your car accident, Missy moved to Hilton Head to help me run the restaurant and I’m happy to say is still here. She and I went to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade together on Sunday and were thinking of you.
We had lunch at Mellow Mushroom in Park Plaza and watched Sarah, Amanda and Karla march with the Girl Scouts. Both of us were wishing Mark was here.
He and Miss are living outside of Vancouver now and would you believe have four incredible kids – Alexis, Hannah, Connor and Braden.
Twelve of us went to Disney World this past fall and had lots of laughs. I would pay good money for video of Mark, Missy and I on the Tea Cups or for the chance for you to have joined us on our tour of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
As we’ve talked about before, Mom and Dad moved here in Spring 2009 and are living about 15 minutes away from me in Bluffton.
Sarah just turned 11. She rocked at basketball this winter and is ready for spring soccer to begin. Amanda is about to turn 10, still loves gymnastics and talks about you all the time.
Wish you were here to see how big they’ve gotten and to school me in golf. I still play from time to time, but it’s just not the same without your trash talking.
Please do me a favor and reach down and give Mark a hug for me today. I miss you always. 
Love, Chris