Message in a bottle was a tribute to George Gumpert Jr.By John Mullen

October 18, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL – (OBA®) - It came from the sea and to the sea, it shall return.

Tracy Arnette was taking a walk along Johnson Beach in Perdido Key recently and she saw a bottle washed up on the edge. She had found a message in a bottle that led her to unravel a mystery about its contents and the heart-wrenching story behind it.

The message read: George Gumpert, October 24, 1982 – BETA. And a quote below over a picture of a dock over some water read: What do you do when you realize that the answer you’ve been chasing your whole life is really just the next question?

Tracy found out that message was from a heartbroken George Gumpert whose son, named George also, who had taken his own life in September of 2010 at the age of 28.

George Gumpert Sr. with son George Jr.“I have had contact with George’s Sister via messenger,” Tracy said in a Facebook post. “And she said ‘Suicide is family crippling. Love your family. Squeeze them tight. Take Nothing for granted. Teach others to do the same.’”

And that’s the same message the elder Gumpert wants to carry on with the message in a bottle. After several conversations back and forth with him about what to do with the bottle, he told Tracy it was hers to do as she pleased. He had tossed in the Gulf about a week before Tracy found it on Oct. 14.

“My wife and I love to walk the beaches and love the treasures that we find all different and all special,” Gumpert said. “Do what you wish with the message. It is your treasure. Thank you for all the kind words and thoughts.”

That’s when Tracy decided she didn’t want this journey to end for “Big Guy,” as he was called by family members. On Sunday, Oct. 21, she and a crew of about 10 will take a boat ride out into the Gulf and send the message in a bottle off again.

“I wish to continue Big Guy’s journey,” Tracy answered. “I want to gather the fine group of people that have taken this journey with us and we as a group send the message in a bottle back to sea.”

Gumpert believes continuing Big Guy’s journey is a way to bring awareness to family members and could possibly prevent a future tragedy like his family experienced.

“If you saw his tribute video you can see he looks like a very happy guy, he was a great kid and tremendous talent,” Gumpert said. “But we didn’t know he had demons. The true message is hold your family and friends close, hug them, tell them you love them and always listen, really listen. A lot of people feel helpless at times they need to know someone cares.” (See the tribute video here.)

Gumpert said his son loved computers from the first time he sat down at one and was extremely talented. And, he loved sharing that talent with others by helping them learn more about them, too.