David Wharton, an 11-time Classic qualifier, died of an apparent heart attack on Feb. 16, 2009 at the age of 59.
Wharton had participated in 264 BASS tournaments between 1979 and 2005 and had over $800,000 in career earnings. His latest victory came at the 2003 Louisiana Showdown on the Toledo Bend Reservoir.
According to tournament partner Ray Beck, Wharton had a slight heart attack on Sunday at his home in Jasper, Texas. He was stabilized and transferred to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in nearby Beaumont. While awaiting surgery, Wharton suffered a larger heart attack and passed away at 3:20 p.m.
"His wife Carla Sue was with him. His spirits were good," Beck said. "We lost truly one of the great pioneers. Those that knew him loved him. Those that didn't idolized him."
A service has been scheduled for Sunday at the Lake Sam Rayburn Methodist Church at Highway 1007 and Highway 255. A gathering of friends and family will begin at 1 p.m. with a memorial service to follow at 2 p.m. Arrangements have been made by Stringer-Griffin Funeral Home, which can be reached at (409) 384-5781.
"The family is asking instead of flowers, send donations," friend and fellow BASS angler Paul Elias said. "He asked that his remains would be cremated, and wants his ashes thrown on Rayburn."
Still active in regional fishing tournaments, Wharton's death was a shock to those close to him.
"He was expecting to get up to the Classic and visit with his buddies," Beck said. "What a shame."
He is survived by his wife, Carla Sue, and son, Blake.