Ernest M. McSorley

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Ernest M. McSorley
Born(1912-09-29)September 29, 1912
DiedNovember 10, 1975(1975-11-10) (aged 63)
OccupationSea Captain
Spouse(s)Nellie McSorley (?- November 10, 1975) (his death)

Ernest Michael McSorley (September 29, 1912 – November 10, 1975) was the last captain of the ill-fated Laker-type freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald. He died along with the other 28 members of his crew when the ship sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.[1][2][3][4]

A Canadian by birth, McSorley wanted to be a captain. At age 11 in 1924, he moved to the United States with his father and stepmother and spent his teenage years in the St. Lawrence River town of Ogdensburg, New York.[5] A veteran mariner, McSorley had over 40 years' experience on the Great Lakes and oceans. He assumed command of the Fitzgerald at the start of the 1972 shipping season and had commanded nine ships before joining the Fitzgerald crew.

A quiet man, McSorley was well respected by his contemporaries as a skillful master and by his men, whom he treated as professionals. He turned 63 a month and a half before the Fitzgerald incident, and intended to retire at the end of the shipping season. His last known words were, "We are holding our own." Despite his death in a storm, he was respected throughout his career as a superb heavy-weather captain.

McSorley resided in the Toledo suburb of Ottawa Hills, Ohio,[1][6] and was married to the former Nellie Pollock, an Illinois native. Although he had no children of his own, Nellie was the mother of three children from a previous marriage. Nellie, who was in ill health at the time of her husband's death, survived for another 17 years, dying at age 82 on February 13, 1993.


  1. ^ a b "Hopes fading for survival of lake freighter's crew". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. November 12, 1975. p. 1.
  2. ^ "General Frequently Asked Questions". S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Online. 2000–2008. Archived from the original on February 12, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "Untitled article". Archived from the original on March 14, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "Coast Guard calls off search, assumes all ship's crew lost". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. November 15, 1975. p. 1.
  5. ^ "Capt Ernest Michael McSorley". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "Legends & Legacies: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". 1999–2014. Retrieved March 24, 2014.

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