BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Molly K. Carney, who as Molly Kool was the first woman in North America to become a licensed ship captain, has died. She was 93.
She died Feb. 25 at an independent retirement community in Bangor where she lived, said her friend Ken Kelly. She was known there as Captain Molly, and there was a lighthouse and a captain's wheel in the hallway outside her room there, Kelly said.
Known in Canada by her maiden name, Molly Kool won her captain's papers in 1939 and sailed the Atlantic Ocean between Alma, New Brunswick, and Boston for five years, Kelly said.
Kool grew up in the village of Alma, where she learned a love of the sea and sailing from her father, a Dutch ship captain. At 23, she made history by earning the title of captain, after the Canadian Shipping Act was rewritten to say "he/she" instead of just "he," Kelly said.
She overcame superstitions about women working at sea and won the respect of her male counterparts as she sailed her father's 70-foot boat in the dangerous waters of the Bay of Fundy, said Mary Majka, who joined Kelly in a fundraising effort to pay to move her ancestral home from Alma to a knoll in nearby Fundy National Park overlooking the bay this spring.
Kool left New Brunswick after marrying Ray Blaisdell, of Bucksport, Maine, in 1944. They were together for 20 years before he died. In the 1960s, she married businessman John Carney, who bought her a boat, which he dubbed the Molly Kool.
Kool also appeared on an episode of "Ripley's Believe It or Not!"
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press
Published by The Columbus Dispatch on Mar. 7, 2009.