Paula Sturdy, repeat flotilla winner, dies unexpectedly in Wrightsville Beach

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A longtime Wrightsville Beach resident who was a repeat winner of the Holiday Flotilla boat parade died unexpectedly this week after apparently hitting her head after falling in her town home on Causeway Drive.

Paula Sturdy, 60, who lived in the Moorings on Causeway Drive, was found by her husband Van Marr on Wednesday evening, Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said. Marr was out of town on business and had not heard from Sturdy in several days when he discovered upon returning that she had died at some point while he was gone, House said.

House said Wrightsville Beach police have an open investigation into the death, but added that “nothing we saw indicated foul play.”

“We’re interviewing people and talking to family, but nothing seems suspicious,” House said.

The medical examiner will perform an autopsy on Thursday, House said, and the District Attorney’s office is also participating in the investigation.

Meanwhile, neighbors are remembering Sturdy’s contributions to Wrightsville Beach.

“They were such an integral part of the flotilla family for some many years,” said flotilla organizer Linda Brown. “It’s a terrible loss to our whole community, she’s been supportive of so many things.”

Brown said Sturdy and her husband Marr had several flotilla wins to their credit, including in 2009, 2010 and 2013.  However, the couple hadn’t participated in the past few years, she said.

“She brought a lot of people with her and got people involved in the flotilla,” Brown said. “They won several times. They were who everyone went after.”

Paula Sturdy was the daughter of H. David Sturdy, who was the founder of the Sturdy Corporation in Wilmington, and died in 2005.

email terrylane@luminanews.com

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