RIVERVIEW — For Rocky Carver, the highlife never consisted of pricey late-model cars or European vacations. Financial security was important and he had that, but so was his family and the country lifestyle he had always known.
For Mr. Carver, no exotic vacation could top his weeklong hog-hunting trips to northwest Florida. Back in Riverview, his lifelong home, he cleared land and demolished buildings, fixed up broken-down tractors and sold them.
At 6 feet 2 and a beefy 260 pounds, he seemed indestructible in body and spirit. Stand beside him at a restaurant, he would talk to you.
"It was always, 'How are you doing today?' " said Susan Carver, his wife of 36 years. "If a tree could talk back to him, he would talk to it."
Mr. Carver, the owner of Carvers Land Clearing, died April 30 of pancreatic cancer, his second bout with cancer in seven years. He was 57.
He consumed life the way he ordered breakfast: six eggs, bacon and hash browns to start, recalled longtime friend Glen Patterson.
"A waitress said, 'Okay, what kind of eggs you want?' " said Patterson, 51. "He cut his eyes up at her and said, 'Chicken.' That's a good example of Rocky."
About 13 years ago, he and a dozen buddies founded the Hoot N Holler Hunting Club, now 5,000 acres of leased land outside Perry. Deer did not particularly interest them. It was always razorbacks they wanted, big boars with big tusks, Patterson said.
"And the meaner the better."
Mr. Carver learned to hunt from his father, Robert, and taught his own children. He met Susan Smith, of Plant City, at a high school graduation party. He seemed like a hard worker, and personable. They married in 1976.
In 1983 he founded Carvers Land Clearing, which prepared land for construction and knocked old buildings down. Once tasting the independence of running his own company, he could never work for somebody else, he told his friends.
In his spare time, Mr. Carver enjoyed fishing or taking the family skiing in Tampa Bay. He wanted to make sure his three children found good careers, and they all have, his wife said. Before too long, Mr. Carver had planned to build on property he owned in North Carolina and semi-retire.
A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer two years ago short-circuited those plans. His body weakened. Still, six weeks ago he insisted on driving to Fort Myers to pick up some tractors.
"Even if it was something you thought was an old piece of junk, there was value in it to Rocky," said Patterson, who made the trip with him. "Somewhere, there was some value."
Andrew Meacham can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2248.