Couch, owner of Hatteras Realty and a Hatteras Island community leader,
died while vacationing with friends in Nicaragua, according to his
John Couch said in a phone call this evening that Stewart was in the
Central American country, pursuing one of his favorite pastimes,
Couch said that his brother had apparently been treated recently by a
doctor for what was thought perhaps to be a heat-related ailment but
had returned to the house where he was staying with friends from
His friends, John said, found him dead in the bathroom this morning.
An autopsy to determine the cause of death was to be performed this
John said that his brother had recently told him that he was going to
get himself in shape and take a week each month in the coming year to
travel and surf.
“He worked out hard to get in shape,” John said.
Raymond Stewart Couch, 61, grew up on Hatteras Island and graduated
from Cape Hatteras School. He went to work for Wallace
then the owner of Outer Beaches Realty in Avon.
“He (Beckham) told my father that Stewart was a natural at selling….the
best he had ever seen.”
Stewart went on to purchase the fledgling Hatteras Realty from former
Hatteras islander Pete Costenbader and to grow it into the company that
it is today, one of the largest on the island, with offices in Avon,
Hatteras village, and in an old, historic island cottage in Waves.
The company was located in a cottage in Avon, back when Stewart bought
it, John said.
“He was driven,” John said, “to take something and make it as good as
he could and to take it as far as he could.
“He loved his family. He loved his career. He loved
Hatteras Island,” said John.
Stewart Couch was the oldest son of the late Ray and Nita
He, like his brothers John and Danny, followed their parents’ example
of being active in and contributing to the community.
Ray Couch, owner of what was then the Red Drum Service Station in
Buxton, helped establish the Outer Banks Preservation Association
(OBPA) in the late 1970s to keep the beaches free and open for public
Today, John runs the service station and auto parts store and is
president of OBPA, which has been supported by both of his brothers.
Stewart gave freely of his time and money to OBPA and many other groups.
Stewart was also active in promoting Hatteras Island and in other
community organizations. He was generous with his colleagues
friends and threw his company’s pool open to the community several
times a year. John said he was also known to invite friends to “Come
swim in my pool.”
“He was my best friend,” said John, adding that all three of the
brothers were extremely close.
“No one should die alone,” John said quietly twice in last evening’s
phone conversation. He and Danny will go to Norfolk as soon
they can manage to have his body sent home and will make decisions
about the final arrangements.
In addition to his brothers, Stewart is survived by his daughter,
Elizabeth Nicole Couch, 17, of Kill Devil Hills, and nieces and nephews.
Island Free Press will publish more about Stewart Couch’s death,
arrangements, and tributes in the coming days.