Carl Dize is grand marshal of the 2008 Urbanna Christmas Parade
by Larry S. Chowning
The Middlesex County Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary and the Town of Urbanna have named Carl Dize the grand marshal of the Urbanna Christmas Parade to be held on Friday, December 5, at 7 p.m.
Dize, 86, moved to Urbanna from Tangier Island in 1933 along with his parents, sister and aunt. They arrived in a 34-foot deadrise boat named “Fritter.”
Dize’s family had been through the August Storm of 1933 and their home had been flooded. “We left Tangier on the last day of September at 1:30 p.m. and came across the bay,” he said. “When we came into Urbanna Creek the next morning, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”
The first year in Urbanna, the Dize family lived in an old store converted into a house along Cottage Row on Taylor Avenue. The next year Dize’s father and mother bought a home on Cottage Row.
“My father Melvin, Ed Pruitt, Elmer Shores, Avary Payne and Lighthouse Crockett were the ones who brought the soft-crab business to Urbanna,” said Dize. “They were trying to find a way not to have to go back to Tangier after oyster season. There wasn’t any crab market over here and they needed some kind of work.
“Daddy and the others went to see a Mr. Slaughter, who had a seafood house at Morattico, and they talked him into buying our crabs,” he said. “A year later Boyd Hurley (of J.W. Hurley and Son Seafood in Urbanna) also got into the crab business.”
Dize attended Urbanna School and Saluda High School. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 and was in the service in Washington, D.C., when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
While in training, his group was asked who knew how to sail a boat. Dize had grown up sailing his father’s 34-foot deadrise, and when he stepped forward he was soon transferred to a 75-foot sailboat named the “Comanche.”
For several months, Dize lived aboard “Comanche” patrolling the Atlantic Ocean between Chincoteague Island and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and searching for German submarines.
Later, in French Morocco in Africa, he was on a landing craft and received a head injury during an air raid, which put him in the hospital for several months.
He survived the war, came home and learned the plumbing and heating business from H.L. (Plumber) Taylor. In 1952, he went to work at the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown from which he retired.
He and his late wife Flo raised their family in Urbanna. They were married for 62 years. He has three children, Sue, Chipper and Cathy, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
He has been a member of the Urbanna Masonic Lodge for 51 years and grew up as a member of Urbanna United Methodist Church. He also is a member of Middlesex American Legion Post 82 in Saluda.
“We are so fortunate to have Carl as our grand marshal,” said Lois Jean Brooks, chairperson of the Christmas Parade. “He is a pillar of the Urbanna United Methodist Church and has been a wonderful example in life for all of us.”
Town mayor Beatrice Taylor said, “The town is honored to recognize Carl Dize as the grand marshal of the Christmas Parade. He is a good citizen of our town and has served our country with pride and honor. He is the kind of person we want to represent us all.”