It’s hard to miss the 18-foot blue and gold bronze sailfish sculpture in downtown Stuart. When erected in 2002, the statue was an ideal way to commemorate the self-proclaimed “Sailfish Capital of the World.”
Finding the funds to do so was the only thing standing in the way — until Ed Sellian stepped in.
A retired businessman, longtime Stuart resident and fishing aficionado, Sellian fronted the sculpture’s entire creation, which now stands tall in the center of the roundabout at Joan Jefferson Way, Dixie Highway and Flagler Avenue.
“It seemed like a good way for me to give something back to Stuart, to a community that’s been good to me and my family,” Sellian told TCPalm in 2002. “I want it to be something the people of Stuart can be proud of.”
Sellian died in his home Sunday, Dec. 8, at age 77, after living in Stuart for 35 years.
With initial plans to “do nothing but fish” when he moved to the city full-time in 1992, Sellian changed directions and began a new company, NuCO2, whose website says it’s the nation’s largest provider of bulk carbon dioxide systems and services for carbonating and dispensing fountain beverages.
NuCO2 is headquartered in Stuart and is the primary beverage gas supplier to the top 100 national restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Miami Subs and Walt Disney World, serving about 30 million people daily, its website says.
Sellian regularly competed in local fishing tournaments, earning the Stuart Sailfish Club’s Outstanding Angler in 1998.
He and his wife, Suzan, often partnered to participate in annual tournaments, including the Pirates Cove Sailfish Classic, Stuart Sailfish Club’s Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament and Fort Pierce’s Pelican Yacht Club Billfish Invitational.
President Donald Trump gave Pope Francis on Wednesday a bronze sculpture of a flowering lotus by Stuart artist Geoffrey Smith called “Rising Above,” representing hope for a peaceful tomorrow, as it evokes two universal values: unity and resilience. MAUREEN KENYON/TCPALM
Sellian never revealed the cost of the symbolic sailfish statue, nor did Stuart sculptor Geoffrey Smith.
“It’s nobody’s business,” Sellian told reporters in 2002.
Many guesstimated its cost, based on an 8-foot sailfish sculpture in Smith’s catalog listed at $39,000. The city spent about $100,000 on the fountain that surrounds and sprays water onto the sailfish.
Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Treasure Coast Seawinds Funeral Home, 950 S.E. Monterey Road, with a Celebration of Life Service at 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, Sellian’s family asks that a contribution be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. Donations can be made at cff.org or by calling 561-683-9965.
Catie Wegman is a TCPalm community reporter. Have a question you want answered? She can be reached by email at email@example.com, or you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Catie_Wegman and Facebook @catiewegman1.
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