The Who2 Blog

Edmund Fitzgerald was Alive When the Edmund Fitzgerald Sank

Edmund Fitzgerald, for whom the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was named.

You might have assumed that the ill-fated ship the Edmund Fitzgerald was named for an old-timey sea captain or an Irish bartender or some other sailing-adjacent fellow. Not so!

As our new biography of Edmund Fitzgerald reveals, he was an insurance executive. To be precise, the president of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, which paid for and launched the ship in 1958 as an investment. There was big money in those days in hauling iron ore around the Great Lakes.  Here’s what the launch looked like:

Edmund Fitzgerald was himself the son and grandson of shipbuilders, so he actually was sailing-adjacent. He was born in 1895 (the same year as Babe Ruth) so he was 80 years old when the ship sank in 1975; he was said to be “terribly distraught” about the tragedy. He lived on to nearly 91.

Learn more about Edmund Fitzgerald »

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