Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) and our Great Lakes Maritime Academy (GLMA) today remember Gordon Lightfoot upon news of his passing yesterday at age 84.

The Canadian singer-songwriter was named an NMC Fellow — the college’s highest honor — in 1989 for his financial contributions to the maritime program. Through a named scholarship, Lightfoot has provided financial aid for dozens of students.

Best known for his ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” Lightfoot immortalized the tragic sinking of the ship in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Among the total crew of 29, one GLMA cadet and one alumnus lost their lives aboard the ore carrier that day. The Great Lakes Maritime Academy hosts its Mariners Memorial Service annually on Nov. 10 to honor mariners who have perished on the Great Lakes and the oceans.

During a concert in 1976 in Traverse City Lightfoot announced he would donate $10,000 toward establishment of a scholarship fund in honor of the GLMA cadet and alumnus. He gave annually to the fund from the song’s royalties. Lightfoot later added to the fund with a portion of proceeds from sales of his limited edition signature guitar and allowed the song to be used in the IMAX movie “Mysteries of the Great Lakes,” contingent on a significant donation to the NMC fund.

We are grateful for the support Lightfoot offered NMC, GLMA, the cadets and the maritime industry. His legacy and support to future cadets lives on. We wish him fair winds and following seas.


Nick Nissley, Ed.D. | President | Northwestern Michigan College | 231.995.1010

Northwestern Michigan College

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