HARPSWELL — With close family surrounding him, Dodge David Morgan, 78, of Snow Island in Harpswell, died peacefully Sept. 14 due to complications from cancer surgery.
Born in 1932 in Malden, Mass., he graduated from Governor Dummer Academy in 1950 and attended the University of New Hampshire until he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951.
He served as a fighter pilot for five years and earned the rank of first lieutenant. In 1957 he returned to college and graduated magna cum laude from the Boston University School of Journalism.
His career in journalism took him to Alaska, where he worked as a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and founded an advertising, public relations and lobbying agency. His early success enabled him to purchase the schooner, Coaster, and set out from Cape Cod on a two-year adventure traveling the waters off coastal Maine, the Caribbean, South America, the Society Islands, Hawaii and back to Alaska.
Eventually he returned to Massachussetts and worked for Worcester Controls Corp. as a marketing manager and division head in electronics. He then co-founded and served as CEO of Controlonics Corp., a communications products manufacturer that began in a garage in Littleton, Mass., and grew to 355 employees with $40 million in revenue. After the company was sold to Dynatech Corporation in 1984, he actualized his life-long dream of sailing around the world.
His sailing trip was a record-breaking solo circumnavigation, completed non-stop in 150 days, 1 hour and 6 minutes.
He was the first American and the third person ever to accomplish the feat, resulting in 11 world records, including the Guinness Book of Records, first American, fastest solo, and non-stop circumnavigation.
The trip served as the basis for his biography, “The Voyage of American Promise,” and served as the subject of a documentary film, “Around Alone.” The logs and records from his voyage are being catalogued at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, where they are available to the public.
A lifelong advocate for free speech and independent spirit, he owned two alternative newspapers, The Maine Times and The Casco Bay Weekly.
In 1986 he helped found VXI Corporation, a communications headset company in Rollingsford, N.H., and until recently, had served as chairman.
Over the years he received numerous distinctions, including Member of the Corporation, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; associate, Boston Museum of Science; Cruising World Offshore Sailor of the Year, 1986; Golden Globe Award, Slocum Society; Sailing Hall of Fame, Newport R.I.; New England Sports Hall of Fame; Award of Distinction, Boston University School of Communications; Distinguished Alumni Award, Boston University; Honorary Doctorate, University of New England; Honorary Doctorate, Babson College; and Honorary Doctorate, Maine Maritime Academy.
While the public will remember his significant accomplishments and awards, friends and family will remember him best for his glowing smile, offbeat sense of humor, powerful optimism and immense generosity.
Surviving are his two children, a son, Hoyt David Morgan, and a daughter Kimberley Promise Morgan; his fiancee, Mary Beth Teas; extended family and countless friends.
Memorial donations may be made to The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 10 Brookline Place West, 6th floor, Brookline, MA 02445-7226, ATTN: Contribution Services.
Private services will be held at a later date.
Arrangements are by Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland.
Condolences may be expressed to the family online at hobbsfuneralhome.com.
Dodge D. Morgan