2018 Annual Guide: Nantucket
His uncle Bud founded the Egan Maritime Institute with his wife Dorothy in 1989 with the goal of showcasing Nantucket’s maritime history. While Nantucket has long been known as a whaling port, the Egans wanted to raise awareness of the island’s non-whaling history and traditions as well. Since 2004, the Egan Maritime Institute has run the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum on Polpis Road. As it grew, the Egan Maritime Institute developed as a nonprofit organization that strives to promote conservation of maritime culture, advocate for a clean ocean, and educate the island’s youth.
Egan strongly believes that the greatest wielders of societal influence are educated young people. Broadening its mission, the institute began to explore topics such as rising sea levels, storm surges, global warming and oceanic pollution. It also aimed to show young people the value of maritime careers.
“Historically, being a Nantucket whaler or fisherman meant something in the professional world. It was prestigious,” Egan says. “We began to think: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the reputation of being a mariner from Nantucket still carried weight in the modern day? What better way to honor a legacy than to keep it alive?’”
Pauline Proch, executive director of the Egan Maritime Institute, has worked with Egan for five years and values him as the most influential advocate for Egan Maritime.
“Part of his influence comes from the family connection, but most of it comes from his belief in the curriculum and his faith in the children,” she says. “From a business side, a mission side, and a vision side, I don’t think many nonprofits are fortunate enough to have a Bob Egan.”
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