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Just as he’d wished, Kurt Carlsen died in his home

The last photo of Agnes and Kurt Carlsen at home in Alwat Street, Woodbridge

He became ill, seriously ill, shortly before his 75th birthday, and the fatalist Kurt Carlsen resigned himself to the inevitable, as he had always done. It was not the first time he was face to face with death. This time, however, he lost the fight, the “hero from the Atlantic”. When I was told his life story 35 years ago, we talked about the wall with all the medals, diplomas and not least the large “Letter of recognition” from the town of Woodbridge. Kurt Carlsen was proud of it all and elated. He did not want to point out particular events from the high points of his life. He was thrilled and happy with the life he had had on the seven seas.

Now he was looking forward to pleasant retirement with Agnes, his daughters and grandchildren. He lived another 13 years at his home on Alwat Street with the smell of the ocean and tar in the close by marina Perth Amboy. As time went by we lost contact. There were Christmas cards, but no more than that. When Carlsen died in 1989 I called Agnes to give her my con-dolences. She was still pleased to hear a Danish voice, and told me about the good life she had had with Kurt, their friends back in Denmark and she told me about the girls in Michigan – Karen Müller Carlsen and Sonja Fedak.

Just as he’d wished, Kurt Carlsen died in his home. Agnes lived till the age of 93. I have not been able to trace Karen or Sonia in the US. As early as 1976, when Carlsen willingly told me about his life at sea, he also talked to us about his last wishes: to be buried at sea – or “launched” as it called in maritime terms. It was to take place according to a detailed description.

A wish that was fulfilled by a colleague, captain Jens Rytter from the, then, East Asiatic Company.

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