A pioneer and life-long stalwart in the St. Thomas-St. John boating industry, Anna Dohm Brodeur Nose died Thursday at the age of 89.
Born in Denmark, Anna got her first sight of the islands in 1937 when she was not quite three years old, arriving on the 33-foot sailboat “Rest More” which her parents, Peter and Else Dohm, were sailing around the world. The only other crew was her brother, Lars, who was about four at the time.
The voyage would prove to be the first of a lifetime of exciting undertakings.
The world journey of the Dohm family was well chronicled. At many of their stops, local newspapers published articles and photos. Hans Dohm, Anna’s son, has copies of many of them, including one from The Daily News of St. Thomas, V.I., dated Dec. 21, 1937. At the time, the family had been traveling since Anna was four months old. They wouldn’t stop until after the third child, Pers, was born in Florida.
As Hans Dohm tells the tale, his grandmother decided it was time for the children to go to school back in Denmark. But Peter hadn’t had enough of the sea, so they split up temporarily.
A few mishaps, changes of fortune and World War II intervened and lengthened the separation.
Having lost Rest More on rocks off Panama, Peter Dohm and a partner were in business bringing boats from New York to St. Thomas. Peter was in the territory when the United States entered the war in December 1941. He was not Danish but German and as such, an enemy of the U.S. and subject to being detained.
But the island didn’t have an internment camp, Hans Dohm said, “So they threw him in the Fort,” i.e. Fort Christian. After six months, he was released but the authorities confiscated his maps and charts so he couldn’t sail away.
“He didn’t care. He was happy to stay,” his grandson said. He made friends and went into business servicing and repairing boats, working on Hassel Island and at Yacht Haven on St. Thomas.
He made connections with the West Indian Co., which eventually led to reuniting with his family. According to Hans Dohm, WICO was instrumental in getting Anna, then 15, her two brothers, and their mother on a steamer to St. Thomas.
It was 1949, and this time, Anna stayed and made the islands her home for more than 50 years.
Early on, she worked in the family business, which moved to the East End of St. Thomas and became Red Hook Boat Services.
“We were the only business there” in the early ‘50s, Hans Dohm said.
It offered a combination of various marine services — everything from boat repairs and supplies to water skiing, sports spearfishing and sailing lessons.
The Dohms may be best remembered for the water taxi service they provided between St. John and St. Thomas. Anna often drove the ferry, and Hans recalls riding with her when he was a small child.
Anna met her first husband, Al Brodeur, in Red Hook. He was building the National Park Visitors Centers in Red Hook and Cruz Bay, Hans Dohm said. They first lived in a houseboat at Red Hook and later moved to a house Brodeur built in Cruz Bay. He died in 1975.
In 1989, she married Robert Nose, who ran the Lobster Hut restaurant and a dive shop on St. John. Together, they operated a charter sailboat business aboard the vessel Alcyone. Soon after his death in 2007, Anna moved to South Carolina to live with her son Hans.
Besides her love for the sea, Hans recalled his mother enjoyed quadrille dancing and teaching knitting and her many friends on St. John.
She was preceded in death by her brothers, her parents and her husband. She is survived by her son, Hans; her half-sisters, Rosanna and Jolly Dohm; her grandchildren, Peter and Taylor Dohm; and her nephews, Erik Dohm and Guy Dohm.
There will be a celebration of life at a later date to be determined. The place will be at Hawksnest Beach. “It was her favorite beach,” her son said.
For more information on Anna and the Dohm family, visit http://dohm.com/blog/.