Ralph Kershaw

Ralph Kershaw
United Flight 175

A Yachtsman's Best Friend

After he married his high-school sweetheart, Hedi, 30 years ago, Ralph F. Kershaw built a two- story colonial house at Manchester-by-the-Sea, a town 30 miles north of Boston. In the years after, as the kids were born, he kept adding rooms to the original house: a playroom, a bedroom, a study. The family still lives there.

Mr. Kershaw, at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, had big hands that were also adroit at the culinary art. "He made a great, great salsa," said Mrs. Kershaw. She said he also chopped cabbages, peppers and lots of garlic, and "made the most delicious soups."

A surveyor of yachts, he knew the boats inside and out. He would tell you what was right or wrong with your boat and know how to fix the problems, too.

"He was very well respected in his field. He knew what makes a boat tick," said Mrs. Kershaw. Ralph had followed his father into this trade, and he wanted his own twin sons, Matthew and Jason, both 25, to continue the in the same tradition.

"Daddy knew everything about every kind of boat," said Matthew Kershaw. "Tankers, wooden, fiberglass, steel, aluminum." He and his brother work at a boatyard repairing fiberglass boats.

On Sept. 11, Mr. Kershaw, 52, was on United Airlines Flight 175 when it struck the World Trade Center's south tower. He was en route to Singapore, via Los Angeles, to inspect a yacht.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 12, 2001.

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