Led was 51 years old when we met one early morning to go fishing. We became instant friends. Over the next few months and years, I would discover, one fishing trip at a time, that he had horrible asthma and respiratory sensitivity to smoke and fumes, itchy skin eczema, a serious fear of crowds and elevators, and he essentially never slept. He would work all day in a tire factory and usually fish at night until he got tired enough to collapse into bed and sleep. Fishing was his passion. That, and his amazing wife, were why he woke up every morning. He had been sleeping less than two hours every two nights for the last 30 years, and his wife and grandchildren had learned not to wake him because he would often awaken confused and violent.

He had grown up very poor in Florida, where he fished daily and hunted with a slingshot for food for himself and his foster family. He was a scrawny kid that learned early how to use his big hands to fight.

We met when he answered my ad in the local paper, placed in the Sporting Goods section on a whim. “New doctor in town looking for places to fish. Will you share?” it read.

I had just arrived at my first duty station in Fayetteville, NC as a new Army doctor after completing my three-year residency training. There were lakes and rivers all around Fayetteville, but where to go was a mystery to me. My phone rang the next day.

“Hey, are you the guy that put an ad in the paper about fishing?” Led began with his thick southern accent.

“Yes, I am.”

“Well, that’s the funniest ad I’ve ever read. I fish every day. When do you want to go?” he asked seriously.

“How about this Saturday?” I proposed hopefully.