Born in Seattle on April 14th 1961 to John and Betty Dwyer. He was number 5 of 6 boys. He attended catholic school in Seattle and graduated in 1981 from South Seattle Community college with an AA degree in heavy duty diesel mechanics. The same program his son Sean graduated from 31 years later in 2012.
Pat had a knack for engineering and a mechanical mind. If it looked like an engine and acted like an engine, it was an engine to take apart and put back together. He didn't get his start in the fishing industry until 1982. His older brother Paul worked for a financial company that had to repossess a fishing vessel in the Puget Sound area and Pat's engine expertise made him the right man for the job. He evaluated the engines and was later hired by the new owner of the boat as the engineer for a summer tendering season in Alaska.
After getting his feet wet from his first year
working on a boat, he decided to spend some time
crab fishing off of Kodiak island. Realizing that fishery wasn't for him, he went back to his summer gig tendering in SE where he eventually met the
love of his life, Jennifer Gore.
The newly formed fleet was a way for Pat to provide his family with a future and a sense of stability. The excitement surrounding the new purchase brought the family closer together and more engines to take apart and put back together, this time for Sean.
The extensive amount of work needing to be done on the Brenna A was overseen by Pat over the course of three years. Sean was his eyes and ears but the pair never got to work side by side in the engine room due to his ALS. Sean would take videos on his phone and report back to the dock where Pat was anxiously waiting with orders for what to do next.
As his ALS progressed, Pat resigned from his position at Trident. He was able to spend more time at home with his family and friends. Brenna was away at college and often wondered if being home was the best choice but Pat wanted his daughter to live her life. He supported her passion for horses just as he supported his son’s interest in engines. Jenny became his full time care-giver, having to help with simple tasks such as pumping gas, buttoning his shirt and eventually eating.
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He knew right away that if this chick could hang around boats and fish slime then she was the one for him. Fast forward to a marriage, a baby and the purchase of their first vessel the St. George, the newlywed couple embarked on a new adventure; owning a business. Jenny spent her summers, with young Brenna, by Pat's side while they tendered the herring circuit from Ketchikan to Nome. Switching to salmon in the summer kept the newlyweds busy for most of the year.
Just as the business began to thrive, on Jan 4th 1992 Jenny received a devastating phone call from the coastguard. The St. George had been lost along with her crew. The news hit the family hard and Pat and Jenny had to take some time to re-group and start again. The birth of their new baby boy Sean just a few months later was a light during a difficult period for their family. During this time Pat took a position with Norquest Seafoods eventually becoming the manager of their crab fleet. His new position reinforced his vision of business ownership. So in 1995 the Jennifer A, previously known as the Gold N' Star, was purchased as the next chapter for St. George Marine. Trident Seafoods eventually acquired Norquest and Pat transitioned with his new company while successfully managing his own.
The Jennifer A was a an ongoing passion project and led him to serve on multiple boards for crab associations during rationalization. His leadership in regulatory and governmental affairs involving crabbing kept him at the center of the industry.
In 2005, the family was struck with the news of
Pat's ALS diagnosis. It was not an easy thing to wrap their minds around but he was determined to keep moving forward. His dream of owning 2 boats came
to fruition that same year with the purchase of the Brenna A, previously known as the Shishaldin.
The loss of independence at such an early age
can be debilitating at times but Pats mental fortitude strengthened. He still had ambitions and goals that needed to be met so giving up was never an option.
Pat passed away from his ALS in June of 2013. His 8 year battle came to an end peacefully with his family and friends by his side. A service was held in Seattle at the same church where he wed his beautiful wife. The service was attended by hundreds of people made up of family, friends and members of the fishing community all wishing to pay their respects to a man who, was not only a father, but someone who helped shape the fishing industry to be what it is today.
Pat's story is an inspiring reminder that family is everything and that attitude really does make the difference. The strength and courage he fought for everyday is the reason his wife, daughter and son can look back and be proud. Being diagnosed with ALS never meant he stopped living, for Pat it was a start.
WE LOVE YOU, PAT.
BRENNA A DWYER
Born in Seattle, WA, Pat and Jenny had a
list of 5 girl names to choose from. After she was born Pat made the choice for Brenna Adele Dwyer.
Around the age of 9, her love for horses began to take center stage. She spent her summers in the barn where she learned the value of hard work. Pat was an animal lover just like his daughter. Together they spent
time traveling to horse shows and playing outside with the family dog, Junior.
Brenna currently lives in Bozeman, MT where she continues to pursue her passion with horses, works as a massage therapist and often spends her summers tendering in SE Alaska on the Jennifer A.
Her interest in massage sparked when she realized how helpful it was for her dads ALS symptoms. After Pat was diagnosed with
ALS, he felt it necessary to try to teach his daughter valuable life lessons, like how to check your oil on your car. These father-daughter lessons have helped Brenna remember her dad and appreciate the memories even if they are of him telling
her what to do.
Jennifer Adele Gore-Dwyer was born and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska where she spent her summers working on the slime line cleaning fish and tendering salmon.
In the summer of 1985, Jenny was a cook
on The Lynda, a salmon tender in SE Alaska. A handsome engineer by the name of Patrick Ford Dwyer caught her eye and
the rest is history.
Together they continued their journey in
the fishing industry by starting their company St. George Marine in 1986. Pat proposed that same year and they were married in January of 1987. The next few years were a blur of raising children and growing a business.
When Pat was diagnosed with ALS in 2005, Jenny became his full-time caregiver, adding that title to the list of PTA president, business partner and mom. As Pat's symptoms began to compromise his day to day activities, Jenny became his voice, making sure the business continued to succeed.
Pat passed away from his ALS in June of 2013. Jenny continues to run St. George Marine with her son Sean, carrying out Pat's ambitions and dreams for his family.
What is ALS?
In 2005 Patrick Ford Dwyer was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gherig’s Disease. ALS
stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that
affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the disease progresses people lose their ability
for voluntary movements such as a handshake and later the ability to walk, speak and breathe.
The timeline for everyone is different, but once diagnosed, people typically live between 3 and 5 years.
Often times, the most challenging part is not the loss of movement but the independence and
future it takes away. To live a life with a definitive timeline takes strength and positivity.
how can you help?
ALSTDI or ALS Therapy Development Institute is the largest research laboratory dedicated to finding a cure. The Dwyer family focus on research and help those already living with ALS in any way they can.
Every purchase in the Brenna A gear shop donates back to ALSTDI. You can also donate directly to the research facility through Capt. Sean’s donation page by clicking the link below. If you want to know more about ALS and the progress being made visit the ALSTDI website.