‘Old Soul with Huge Potential’ Remembers with Emotional Tribute to Coastal Community


A heartfelt tribute sparked a wave of emotion for a limestone coast teenager who died suddenly in Adelaide last month.

Dozens of people lined the beach and Beachport Pier yesterday as William Fry, 17, was honored with an emotional paddle by his closest friends and family.

William is remembered as a talented football player and future leader of the Beachport Surf Life Saving Club.

He played for Eastern United FC in Adelaide and was considered one of the best young goalkeepers in the state.

William died at the Pembroke Boarding House in Adelaide from a sudden medical event last month.

During the paddle event, William’s mother Rachel described her son as an “old soul” with a big heart.

“From an early age, he just connected [with people], it doesn’t matter who you were, what you look like, how old you are, ”she said.

“He’s just able to resonate with everyone – he’s heart and soul.”

Paddle in Beachport, SA, for William Fry – a beloved local teenager who passed away suddenly in August 2021.(

Provided: Claire Izzo


Beachport Surf Life Saving Club President Peter Phillips said a paddle outing was a special way to honor him.

“A paddle outing is about coming together as a community in the water, having a minute of silence, holding hands,” said Phillips.

“It was really, really powerful and a lot of healing happened.”

While honoring William, Mr Phillips said it also gives people the opportunity to share their own pain.

“A lot of people were able to express a lot of emotions that they maybe struggled with or held back with,” he said.

“So that’s the whole point of a paddle trip, to support those who are suffering and to honor Will and feel close to him being in the ocean.”

A man in a yellow 'surf rescue' swimsuit stands on an old pier overlooking the water.
Peter Phillips, President of the Beachport SLSC.(

ABC Sud-Est SA: Bec Whetham


Mr. Phillips said William was a genuine person.

“He was identified early on within Surf Life Saving South Australia as having leadership potential which was so nice to see,” said Mr Phillips.

“I can’t say enough good things about him – he was the real deal.”

A great loss”

“It really is a huge loss for the community, especially this small community,” said Mr. Phillips.

William’s former football coach Adam Hodge of Apollo Soccer Club in Mount Gambier said he was struggling to come to terms with his passing.

“You know he was one of the greatest humans to walk on the planet,” Mr. Hodge said.

“He’s just done good everywhere he’s been and it just seems a little unfair that he’s the one taken from us.”

Close friend Charlie Facy said he was going to miss his mate.

“We were close enough to discuss how things were really going,” Mr. Facy said.

A boy in a jumpsuit sits on a bench overlooking the ocean.
Charlie Facy paddles for William Fry in Beachport, a beloved local teenager who passed away suddenly in August 2021.(

ABC Sud-Est SA: Bec Whetham


“It went straight from being here to not being here anymore.

“It was a good day to send her though, really memorable.”

Life to celebrate

A memorial service to celebrate Will’s life will take place in the seaside town on Thursday.

things of the will (1)
William Fry’s paddle board.(

Provided: Claire Izzo


“We don’t want it to be sad. We want it to be happy, bright, vibrant, and celebrate how thrilling it has been in 17 years,” said Rachel, William’s mother.

“There are so many different worlds he was a part of, it will be great for these people to be able to share that and come and celebrate as well.

“Hold on, take care of each other.

“Will would say take care of each other, take care of the world and make it a better place.”

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