Dave Collaton: “Hardest Working Man on the Sand”


    David Joseph Collaton, Fort Myers, was the exuberant, creative and loving husband of Rebecca Scott Perkins, and a doting father to his daughters, Magnolia, Charlotte and Ava. Dave succumbed to complications of cancer on Sunday, April 5th, 2020 peacefully at home with his loving wife, Rebecca, and surrounded by family. He was 55 years old.

    A gifted guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Dave entertained thousands of Fort Myers Beach (FMB) tourists yearly with a rich repertoire of music spanning the good old Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and Bruce Springsteen. He loved his favorite FMB gigs including Pete’s Time Out, Smokin’ Oyster Brewery and Nervous Nellie’s. FMB venues could rely on Dave’s truly unique talent to satisfy their customers and keep ‘em coming back for another round of ‘Six Beer Betty’ or ‘Ripple.’ Dave could even be convinced (with a hefty tip) to play a heartfelt ‘Margaritaville’ or ‘Sweet Caroline’ for the thousands of Midwesterners, Canadian snowbirds and loyal friends and family who all gathered at FMB every year from across the globe to hear him sing. The “hardest working man on the sand,” Dave loved his work and he especially loved the people of his adopted hometown. Dave met the love of his life, Rebecca, while playing guitar at Pete’s Time Out, where she was a server and bartender. They married in January of 2018. Pete’s Time Out owners John and Debbie Lallo hosted a memorable reception at their beloved beachside bar on FMB as a wedding gift to the happy couple.

    Dave was born in the winter of 1965 in London, Ontario, Canada. The third child of Richard and Barbara Collaton, David entered the world surrounded by the love of his big sisters, Heather and Elizabeth. An early photo shows David wrapped up tight in a snowsuit against the Canadian winter behind his sisters while they push a bicycle through the heavy snow. (Not surprisingly, among his many other talents, Dave was a natural-born skier.) As a teenager, after the Collaton family moved to Philadelphia, Dave quickly emerged as the man he would become. Always an able and natural artist with his father’s sense of humor, he had a particular gift for drawing Mad Magazine-style cartoons and flipbooks that were greeted with admiration and laughter. One evening his mother — herself a gifted guitarist and singer — passed him her guitar and taught him a few chords and he never put that guitar down again. David was a self-taught and brilliant musician, and along with a sonorous and soulful voice and knack for songwriting, he launched himself into his life’s work. The Collaton basement quickly became home and hangout for David’s jam bands and his friends from Cheltenham High School including Tony, Eric, Chris, Larry and Jay and many others. Dave’s buddies all took many trips over the years to see him jam at venues from Philly to the Jersey Shore, Vail and, ultimately, to Fort Myers.

    Across the arc of a too-short, yet storied, lifetime, David helped raise three brilliant and strong daughters, and joyously and ultimately found true love and companionship with his devoted wife, Rebecca. David shared his gift of music and his clever wit with everyone lucky enough to know him. His friend, Michael, also a guitar player from his earliest days at Doc Watson’s in Philadelphia, remained a dear friend and collaborator throughout his life. They performed at Dave’s sister’s wedding with his mother, as she sang her famous rendition of Frankie and Johnny, still remembered almost 30 years later by all who were in attendance. David sang his heart out for all of us. He was a loyal friend and loved by too many to name. A special thank you to Dave’s cousin, Stephen, whose love and care was invaluable to the family.

    Survivors include his wife, Rebecca Scott Perkins of Fort Myers; daughters Magnolia, Charlotte and Ava; sisters, Heather Collaton (Jim Griffey) of Boulder, CO and Elizabeth Collaton (Gene Karpinski) of Arlington, VA; nieces and nephews Andrew, Emma, Lauren and Bradley; Rebecca’s children, Maryjane and Hazel Grace and Rebecca’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Perkins of Richmond, VA.

    In the spirit of Dave’s unending optimism throughout his life, we urge you all to “continue to rock” and when you sing a song you love, please remember Dave. Godspeed.

    Donations: Dave loved his hardworking and fun-loving friends and family in Fort Myers Beach. In his honor, please consider a donation to the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation Fund for Hospitality Workers (https://www.fortmyersbeachcf.com). A Celebration of Dave’s Life will be scheduled when we can all travel again, so we’ll see you at sunset on the beach in your beautiful blue #WeAreFMB t-shirts.

    Here is Dave Collaton’s joyful cover of “Jersey Girl” from an Easter Sunday a few years ago: https://youtu.be/yLDWJxNqR9c


    by Heather & Elizabeth Collaton