Woman honors husband by running tattoo shop in his memory
JACKSONVILLE — Chelsea and Daniel Linnabary had often talked of opening their own tattoo shop.
But after only a month into his Afghanistan deployment, Daniel Linnabary died in an Aug. 6, 2012, mortar attack.
When Chelsea Linnabary first received the news of her husband's death, she put down her tattoo machine for about a month and grieved.
"I stopped for a while when he died, but I picked the machine back up because I needed something to do," she said. "I needed to get my mind off his death. Tattooing was my coping mechanism."
Eventually, she said, she realized she couldn't live in the past and had to move forward. She did so by purchasing her own tattoo shop in Midway Park and named it Purple Heart Tattoo in memory of her husband.
"I never would have had a reason to do this until he died," said Chelsea, who has been tattooing for roughly four and a half years. "This is my way of honoring him. The shop is in his memory."
The move is one her husband had always encouraged her to make.
"I just hope he is proud of me and the decisions I have made," she said.
She said the name wasn't one she picked just to draw in military clientele — there is meaning behind it.
"The Purple Heart means something to me because of my husband and his sacrifice," she said. "That's why I decided to name the shop that."
Chelsea Linnabary grew up around ink. Her dad was heavily tattooed, and she hung out at area shops growing up. Being a tattoo artist, she said, is something she was meant to do.
Especially when it comes to memorial tattoos
"The last time I talked to my husband before he died I was doing a memorial tattoo," she said. "Now that I know what it means to them, they mean that much more to me as an artist. Knowing I'm tattooing guys who are feeling the same loss gave me strength.
"I'm know I'm helping guys who've gone through the same thing."
With a grand opening scheduled for May 18, she said she is married to the shop now.
"This shop allows me to take all the negative energy I have because of his death and turn it into positive energy," she said. "You can't live in the past. I couldn't sit around and drink away my problems or be angry at the military. I didn't want my daughter to grow up with that same hate and sadness."
The grand opening's proceeds will benefit Evin Bodle, a Marine who was wounded on the day her husband was killed. Still at Bethesda, Md., receiving treatment, Bodle lost part of his frontal lobe and took shrapnel to his body during the mortar blast that killed her husband.
"I feel like after everything happened, the military gave me everything I needed," she said. "I feel like the wounded get pushed to the side. His wife will be his caretaker and raise their two kids because he will never be able to work again. Any benefits they get from the military are never enough.
"That's why we are doing this — to do our part."
The benefit will feature live music, vendors, a car and bike show and tattoos. All proceeds will benefit the Bodle family. If you are interested in donating or for more information, contact Chelsea at 910-353-8282 or visit the shop at 175-8 Freedom Way in Midway Park.