Monday, March 2, 2009

Molly Kool - Fundy Legend Dies at 93

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Molly Kool was the first female sea captain in North America
Born in N.B., Kool died in Bangor at 93

MONCTON, N.B. — Molly Kool, the first woman in North America to become a registered sea captain, died Wednesday. She was 93.

Kool was born in 1916 in Alma, N.B., and spent the first 30 years of her life there. She had been living in Bangor, Maine, for years when she died.

"She was a real pioneer in the status of women and she tackled something absolutely unheard of," said Ken Kelly, president of the Fundy Beautification and Historical Society.

Kelly was a friend of Kool and would visit her in Bangor once a year. She would also regularly come stay with him and his wife in Alma.

Kool tried to enrol in navigation school in Saint John, N.B., but was initially turned away because no woman in North America had ever obtained her mate’s papers.

She persisted and was eventually admitted.

She passed her mate’s papers in 1937 at the age of 21 and passed her master’s exam a couple of years later, receiving her master’s certificate and the title of captain.

"She was a New Brunswick girl and she really overcame a lot. It’s a hell of a story," said Kelly. "She had to earn every bit of what she had and there was a lot of resistance in those days, but she stood her ground and fared well."

Rita Hopper, also a friend of Kool, said some men in the shipping industry didn’t agree with a woman being captain of a ship, while others were fine with it.

She said Kool had the personality to handle any troublemakers.

"She was tough," recalled Hopper. "Nothing would bother her and you could dare her to do anything and she would.

"She wouldn’t take nothing from nobody and she would let you have it. She didn’t care."

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