July 17, 1999
Families of Edmund Fitzgerald crewmen will travel to site of disaster
by Ira Porter, Detroit Free Press
Free Press Staff Writer
It's been almost 24 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald left Superior, Wis., for its fatal voyage through the Great Lakes.
On Nov. 10, 1975, harsh winds and strong waves crashed against the 739-foot ore carrier, sending it deep into waters 15 miles northwest of Whitefish Bay. Twenty-nine crewmen died.
Today, family members finally will visit the site where their loved ones died.
The 70 relatives of the deceased shipmen will travel four hours from Sault Ste. Marie to stop above the spot on Lake Superior where the ship and the bodies of the crew are submerged in 535 feet of water. There they will place flowers as the 29 names are called.
The act will complete the consecration of the grave site, said the Rev. Richard Ingalls of Mariners' Church in Detroit. Every year since the wreck, the church has held a ceremony for family members.
"The families have never been able to stand over the grave and commend the souls," Ingalls said. "Every year we have a ceremony, but we have not had a consecration."
The mother of one of the crewmen told Ingalls something was incomplete in her life until she got the invitation, he said.
The relatives have been concerned about divers trying to recover artifacts from the ship, Ingalls said.
"We wouldn't go out to Elmwood Cemetery and dig up a body and take a photograph of it," he said.
IRA PORTER can be reached at 313-222-8851.