Alumni Necrology

Amanda Ridgely Lake '91

Amanda Ridgely Lake '91, an adventurous sailor and sailing instructor, and "always a seafarer at heart," was born on September 3, 1964, in Syracuse, NY. The daughter of the Rev. Benjamin J. Lake '48 and Cynthia Bullock Lake Woodger, a patron of the arts who became a trustee of Kirkland Col-lege, Amanda Lake grew up in Cazenovia, NY, where her father was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. She entered Hamilton in 1982 from Princeton, NJ, following college preparation at the Old-fields School in Maryland. After a year, she left the Hill to pursue studies at other institutions, only to return in the spring of 1989 to complete her Hamilton requirements as a creative writing major and earn her diploma in 1991. When back on the Hill, she quickly assumed a leadership role in the Emer-son Literary Society, becoming its president.

Amanda Lake, also fondly known to friends as "Panda," and remembered by her fellow students for her quick wit and creative mind, went on to participate in the "Great Books" master's program at St. John's College. Despite her interest in literature and talent as a creative writer, her deepest affection was always focused on the sea. At an early age she had skippered residents and tourists between Edgartown and Chappaquiddick on Martha's Vineyard, and she later joined the crew of the Regina Maris, a wooden barkentine engaged in studying humpback whales in the Caribbean and North Atlan-tic.

As detailed in her obituary, published in SouthCoastToday, Amanda Lake, "undaunted by maritime challenges," became a member of the first crew to circumnavigate Greenland by sailboat. Through the years she took part in many others adventures on the 50'-cutter Brendan's Isle, including the circum-navigation of Newfoundland and Labrador, exploring the navigable waters of the Arctic Circle, and sailing from Annapolis, MD, to Iceland. She also served as chief mate aboard the Massachusetts tall ship Ernestina, and after age and funding cuts docked the 115-year-old schooner permanently in 2003, she joined the crew of folksinger Pete Seeger's Hudson River sloop Clearwater, part of his effort to promote environmentalism and preserve the river.

Amanda Lake was not only an accomplished sailor on various sizes of ships but one of only a handful of women ever to earn a 100-ton near-coast master's license, permitting her to pilot large vessels in and out of commercial ports. She was teaching classes for professional mariners on advanced ship-handling and maritime safety at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at the time of her death.

During the 1980s and '90s Amanda Lake had served as coordinator of the internship program for the National Audubon Society and helped develop an award-winning educational website for PBS. She also did editorial work on Reed's Nautical Almanac. Known for her unfailing, "and often wicked," sense of humor, she was an enthusiastic and tireless volunteer who, "if a project needed finishing or a person needed help," would be the first to lend a hand.

Amanda Ridgely Lake died at her home in Fairhaven, MA, on August 19, 2009. Predeceased by her father in 1986 and her mother early this year, she is survived by her stepfather, Bruce Woodger, and her brother Whitney B. Lake '87, as well as a niece and nephew. A memorial service for Amanda Lake was fittingly held on the deck of the Ernestina.

Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

Editor, Hamilton Alumni Review
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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