Boat designer takes his own life

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Renowned designer Phil Bolger, 81, committed suicide behind his West Gloucester, Mass., home overlooking the Jones River.

His wife and business partner, Susanne Altenburger, told the Gloucester Daily Times that his decision to take his own life was a long-contemplated act.

Bolger designed some 680 boats, including the world’s smallest dinghy — the “folding schooner” — as well as the replica 18th century Royal Navy frigate HMS Rose, made famous in the 2003 movie “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

In addition to his work as a boat designer, Bolger was an author who published numerous books on boats and a science fiction novel about apartheid in South Africa, along with countless magazine articles.

Altenburger told the newspaper she awoke on the morning of May 24 — perhaps to the sound of a gunshot — and when Bolger did not respond to her call, she discovered his body outside, along with a .45-caliber pistol.

Click here for the complete story.


3 comments on “Boat designer takes his own life

  1. Chris

    Your use of ‘contextual advertising’ led to the insertion of an ad for firearms training. An unremarkable ad, except when placed next to an article discussing a firearm suicide…

  2. arch

    Most people that take their own life are selfish cowards.  We shouldn’t put them on a pedestal regardless of their contribution to the industry.  Besides, most of the accomplishments credited to those that leave us are things they were PAID TO DO.  It was their job.
    If you want to glorify somebody, or their accomplishments, then find somebody who is truly worthy.  For what he did to his wife by committing suicide, that alone should disqualify him from anymore than just a very brief casual mention.
    Granted, he might have been sick and struggled with mental illness.  But I don’t think so based on what I read.  
    The article mentioned the suicide as being a pricipled act.  LIke there is any honor in someone shooting themselves in their backyard, to be found by family members.    PLEASE.

  3. Rick C

    Sad to see someone result to this exit route.  While a selfish act in general, we do not know if some health crisis lead to this horrific action.  I never met Phil Bolger, but purchased one of his plans–an electric launch named “Lily”–and communicated with him about building this little vessel.  The blueprints came with a VHS tape of Bolger describing the plans and operation of the launch.  We also have two of his books of designs.  He was a unique designer, and a real character from what I saw.  He seemed to think outside the box–perhaps a fitting end.

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