PORT CLYDE, Maine — Danielle Randolph was drawn to the sea and propelled herself through life, a friend recalled during a gathering Thursday at the Marshall Point Lighthouse to celebrate the life of the 34-year-old Rockland woman lost with the cargo ship El Faro.
More than 100 people attended the memorial service held with the lighthouse as backdrop under bright sunny skies and a stiff breeze.
Kate Gorman recalled how her friend since childhood had a sense of curiosity and adventure and would spend hours watching the ocean and fishing boats off Port Clyde, where she had relatives.
“She was mesmerized by the sea, lulled by the sea,” Gorman said, to the point where Randolph sometimes would fall asleep in the dog bed located by the window.
The two also would spend time on the water when they were young, sometimes rowing a boat in circles. She said the sea offered a freedom that is hard to describe.
“She propelled herself through life. She was the gusts of wind in her friends’ sail,” Gorman said.
David Weathers, national vice president of the American Maritime Officers labor union for merchant mariners, pointed out that a career at sea is a challenge in itself. Being the only female officer and often the only woman aboard a cargo ship made it even more challenging for Randolph. But she was able to navigate those challenges, he said.
“She proved them wrong with her intelligence and talent,” Weathers said about a cargo ship being a male domain.
He pointed out that mariners have to go to sea for long periods, leaving loved ones behind.
“But there is the expectation that you will always return,” he said.
Randolph graduated from Rockland District High School in 2000 and from Maine Maritime Academy in Castine in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation. Maine Maritime President William Brennan said during Thursday’s service he spends so much time with students that he considers them his children. He said his heart is broken.
“Danielle will forever be a mariner. She will forever be honored by generations of midshipmen,” he said.
A Maine Maritime color guard laid a wreath at the lighthouse while Avens Ridgeway played the bagpipes. As the service concluded, Pastor Randall Thissell of the Port Clyde Advent Christian Church encouraged the gathering to blow one last kiss to Randolph. Family and friends also blew soap bubbles into the wind.
Randolph’s hobbies included retro fashion, photography, Zumba, cooking and throwing themed parties for her friends and family that put Martha Stewart to shame, according to her obituary. She was the daughter of Laurie Bobillot and Kenneth Randolph.
Danielle Randolph was one of 33 crew members lost when the El Faro went down Oct. 1 off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. Five were Maine Maritime graduates with four of them being from Maine.
Also lost aboard the El Faro were 53-year-old Capt. Michael Davidson of Windham, a 1988 graduate of Maine Maritime; Michael Holland, 25, of Wilton, a 2012 graduate of Maine Maritime; and Dylan Meklin, 23, who graduated from Rockland District High School in 2010 and from Maine Maritime in May. Another crew member, Mitchell Kuflik of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Maine Maritime in 2011.
A memorial service was held Wednesday evening for Holland.
A memorial service for Meklin is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.