Molly Kool, first woman licensed as a ship captain in North America died at her home in Bangor, Maine on Feb. 25, 2009, she was 93.
Known as Captain Molly, she was a native of the Canadian province of New Brunswick. She earned her captain’s license at the age of 23 and after that operated her father’s 70-foot sail and power scow, Jean K, hauling cargo around the Bay of Fundy.
She eventually gained the respect of her male colleagues and in 2006 was officially recognized by the Canadian government as the first woman in North America to hold captain’s papers.
She was born Myrtle Kool on Feb. 23, 1916, the second of five children. Her father was a Dutch sailor who had emigrated to Canada. From the time that she was a small child she was on the water. Hoping to serve her father as mate she applied to the Merchant Marine School in Saint John, New Brunswick, and was rejected. She eventually earned her mate’s papers in 1937 and her master’s papers in 1939, legally changing her first name to Molly in 1940.
Much of Jean K was destroyed by fire in 1944. By the time it had been rebuilt Kool had moved to Maine, married and settled down for a life ashore.
She is predeceased by two husbands, Ray Blaisdell and John Carney and survived by a sister, Martha Miller.
Efforts are underway by the Fundy Beautification and Historical Society to preserve Capt. Kool’s 19th century childhood home and move it to Fundy National Park.