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.

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