Tribute to a Hatterasman


The first time I saw Nacie Peele was in an oil painting owned by a former employer, Alex Kotarides. Alex owned a waterfowl hunting club where I helped out in the maintenance and guiding chores. The large painting showed him mending a fishing net, and I would stand there transfixed with that image. It evoked a wonderful maritime quality and tranquility. I had heard nothing but good stories about Nacie. Ever since I moved to Hatteras Island, I was amazed at the commercial fishing way of life, and over the years, I’ve worked, using photography to document this vanishing lifestyle.

Some years later, I was shooting a magazine assignment involving Michael Peele fishing his pound net. It was a pretty day, and the fishing not particularly great. But I got my pictures, and we headed back to shore. On the way in, we spotted another fisherman working a pound net. It was Michael’s uncle Nacie, and we went over to check his catch. I was excited that this man at nearly 80 years old was still out in his skiff, pulling nets. I remember thinking to myself, here he is, a quintessential Hatterasman, the real thing. I made several more shots, and we went in.

Ever since then, I’d stop in to visit Mr. Nacie occasionally. He always remembered my name and had such a gentle, welcoming demeanor. His stories told of an interesting life, from surviving a torpedoed ship in the war, hauling in hundreds of boxes of fish from a pound net, and building boats. He did eventually stop fishing in his mid-80’s, but was still sharp and tended a magnificent vegetable garden.


Nacie passed away peacefully on January 16 not many yards away from the spot where he was born. He was 89 years of age.


3 thoughts on “Tribute to a Hatterasman

  1. Heidi Nash Young

    Wonderful story of a very fond friend of ours from Hatteras…Nacie was a early riser with his pound net and we could see his boat rain or shine tending his nets in the distance many of mornings from our family cottage. I also had the opportunity to go clamming with him and my two boys learned how to mend fish nets in his workshop…my husband was taught how to clean a pufferfish and clean live crab. He many of times would give us trashcans full of blue crab and we would pick til our fingers were sore…my husband enjoyed many of nights playing pool with him and Jack Leatherwood…and Nacie always won! He had a wonderful garden that he was so very proud of and would always give us whatever was ready to pick and eat. Nacie was a kind, gentle and beautiful person and I will always remember and miss him dearly!

  2. Paula Reynolds Post author

    Nacie Peele was a gentle and kind soul, with a heart of gold. I would visit with him on my trips to Hatteras, listening to his stories and also sharing in the abundance of his magnificent garden. I too, photographed Nacie, along with my friend, J. Peter Mosley. I was deeply saddened, when Nacie’s nephew Michael called to tell me of his passing. Your images capture his inner peace and his incredible kindness. Thank you for such a lovely tribute.

  3. Roy G

    Nacie was a caretaker for a man named Murdock back in the 60s when I first visited Hatteras. We stayed in Murdock’s house a couple times, once for a two weeks vacation. Nacie would take us fishing for Spanish mackeral on the sound. It was alot of fun.
    He was a very nice man.


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