To his friends, he was Eddie. To his family, he was Eddie the teddy bear.

Ed Watkins died Friday evening in a fishing accident at Farmer's Lake in Caswell County. Watkins was fishing with James Moore, an Elon groundskeeper, when their boat overturned and Watkins drowned.

His cousin Betsy Watkins remembers him as a gentle giant.

"It was devastating," Watkins said. "That's the last thing you expect to hear. He was leaving going fishing, what he loves to do, and for him not to come back is just unbelievable."

Betsy and Ed Watkins grew up together. She remembers them playing at her grandmother's as kids and living next door to one another for their entire childhood.

Watkins had many passions including hunting, cooking and fixing cars. He tinkered and fixed any motor he could get his hands on.

His passion for cars took him to mechanical school in Tennessee. Then he went to work as a mechanic at Elon University in 2007.

His supervisor, Ray Pruitt, remembered him as a fun employee.

"Everybody here loved him," Pruitt said. "He was just a joy to be around. Elon has lost a good guy, and he's going to be hard to replace."

Betsy and Ed still lived nearby to this day. The last time she saw him was two days before he died.

"I got to get my hug and I got to see that smile," she said. "And whoever would have known that this would happen."

Visitation and funeral will be held at McClure Funeral Service on Wed., April 23 beginning at 1 p.m. McClure Funeral Service is located at 1308 S. 3rd St. Mebane, NC 27302.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Occaneechi Band of the Saponins Nation.