OCEAN CITY — Roughly nine miles off the coast of Ocean City, a quiet memorial and final resting place of a beloved long-time resort local, who passed a year ago this month, is now symbolically teeming with life as part of growing artificial reef site.
Tony Meredith, known reverently and affectionately as “Uncle Tony” by the hundreds of long-time locals who knew him best, passed away last Dec. 1, but his memory and legacy live on at a quiet artificial reef site about nine miles off the coast of Ocean City known as the Bass Grounds. Meredith and his twin brother Bill, both avid fishermen, hunters and golfers, among other things, owned and operated a security business for years before retiring to the resort area to enjoy the good life and the fruits of their labor.
In 2008, the Ocean City Reef Foundation was offered an opportunity to acquire part of a batch of 600 retired New York City subway cars for deployment on the growing network of artificial reefs off the coast of the resort and a massive fundraising effort was launched. The Ocean City Reef Foundation ultimately was able to acquire two batches of the retired “Red Bird” subway cars thanks in large part to generous donations from the local fishing community.
Tony and Bill Meredith were among those early investors in the subway car turned artificial reef program and purchased a single subway car with the intention of creating the Meredith Memorial Reef. The subway car was later deployed about nine miles off the coast in an area known as the Bass Grounds and it has remained there at a depth of around 74 feet ever since, gradually becoming covered in coral and other growth creating habitat as part of the burgeoning artificial reef network off the coast.
Tony Meredith passed after a lengthy illness a year ago last week on Dec. 1, 2015 and depositing some of his ashes in a concrete memorial lowered onto the Meredith Memorial Reef this fall was the logical and fitting thing to do for the beloved late Ocean City local. Bill Meredith this week said he and Tony, as fishing enthusiasts and philanthropists, had researched how to best support the Ocean City Reef Foundation and when the retired New York subway cars became available, the choice was obvious.
“We actually shopped around for the best way to make a donation to the Ocean City Reef Foundation and decided on a subway car when they became available,” he said. “We bought it and it went down out there with the rest of them and we didn’t think about it then, but years later it became an obvious choice for Tony’s ashes.”
When Tony passed last December, the wheels were set in motion to create a lasting memorial in his honor at their subway car reef. A portion of Tony’s ashes were cast in a permanent concrete memorial, which was lowered on the reef site on a picture-perfect day in late September in a solemn and fitting ceremony attended by a handful of family and friends including their older brother Denis. Bill Meredith said this week the entire ceremony could not have been a more perfect way to remember his late brother.
“He and I had discussed what we would do with each other’s ashes when the time came, but that didn’t immediately come to mind then,” he said. “Now, just a year after Tony’s passing, it seems nothing could be more appropriate.”
Bill Meredith said the memorial was created using a portion of Tony’s ashes and was delivered to the artificial reef site, where it was taken down to the larger memorial by long-time friend and former employee Martin Aldred, who is also a diver.
“It’s a concrete block with Tony’s ashes included in it,” he said. “We had a beautiful black onyx plaque engraved with his name and dates and it includes some plastic pipes for habitat and protection for little fish so they can become big fish.”