Ernest Michael McSorley (September 29, 1912 – November 10, 1975) was the last captain of the ill-fated Laker-type freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald. McSorley died along with the other 28 members of his crew when the Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.
A Canadian by birth, McSorley wanted to captain a boat. In 1924, he moved to the United States with his father and stepmother when he was 11 years old and spent his teenage years in the St. Lawrence River town of Ogdensburg, New York. A veteran mariner, McSorley had over 40 years experience on both the Great Lakes and oceans. He assumed command of the Fitzgerald at the start of the 1972 shipping season and had commanded nine ships before joining the crew of the Fitzgerald.
A quiet man, McSorley was well respected by his contemporaries as a skillful master and by his men, whom he treated as professionals. McSorley had turned 63 a month and a half before the Fitzgerald incident and intended to retire at the end of the shipping season. Captain McSorley's last known words were, "We are holding our own." Despite his death in a storm, McSorley was respected throughout his career as a superb heavy weather captain.
McSorley resided in the Toledo suburb of Ottawa Hills, Ohio, and was married to the former Nellie Pollock, an Illinois native. Although he had no children of his own, Nellie was the mother of three children from a previous marriage. Nellie McSorley, who was in ill health at the time of her husband's death, survived for another seventeen years, dying at age 82 on February 13, 1993.