GEORGIA (WJBF) – One of America’s most famous naturalists, “Okefenokee Joe” (also known as international country music performer Dick Flood), died Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center in downtown Augusta.
According to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), Richard “Dick” Flood had turned 90 on Nov. 13 at his home near Salley, S.C., and had been a patient at the Augusta VA centers since the Monday before Thanksgiving suffering from severe back pain.
Two of his television specials made for the Georgia Public Broadcasting’s nine stations (Emmy Award-winning “Swampwise” and also “The Joy of Snakes”) became among the network’s highest rated shows.
In his final months he had been working on a new album that would include a song called “Movin’ On” which he believed to be among his best ever composed.
From his many years of working with snakes and giving demonstrations at schools, fairs, nature preserves and other places, Joe considered it disrespectful to call a sneaky or deceitful person a snake.
“Snakes I can trust,” he said. “They are more predictable than people. People are scared of snakes and yet only 12 or less people in the U.S. die of snake bites each year.”
Dick Flood’s musical career took off in the 1950s when he and Billy Graves were a country duo called The Country Lads singing on a network television show Jimmy Dean hosted in the Washington, D.C., area.
He toured with his band called The Pathfinders from 1956 to 1973 including entertaining American soldiers in Vietnam and other countries of the Far East.
For eight years, Flood lived in a shack on Cowhouse Island in the swamp with no electricity or running water. That’s when he began developing his second life as Okefenokee Joe.
That led him to start giving talks about nature in schools and other places and to writing and recording songs about what he really loved more than anything.
Memorial services are being planned.
Visit www.okefenokeejoe.com for a detailed look at his amazing life.
To read the entire obit, click here.
GPB contributed to this report.