Peter C. Gookin, sailing enthusiast, exhibit manager for Naval Institute

May 31, 1994|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Sun Staff Writer

Peter C. Gookin, who was exhibit and special projects manager for the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis and an active sailing enthusiast, drowned Thursday while cleaning his boat for a Memorial Day weekend race. He was 36.

Mr. Gookin also was an instructor at an Annapolis sailing school and, said Mark Gatlin, a friend and colleague who "loved the water. His whole life, his sole focus was to sail."

Mr. Gookin had been scrubbing the bottom of a 27-foot Catalina sailboat in preparation for a race from St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore to Annapolis this weekend.

Investigators said the boat drifted from shallow water, where the work began, into about 14 feet of water on the Chesapeake Bay off Bembe Beach, south of Annapolis.

"This is a real perplexity to us. Peter was just the most careful and straightforward person," said his sister-in-law, Jane Gookin.

Mr. Gookin, who had worked for the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis since 1987, traveled frequently to promote the books of the Naval Institute Press.

Mr. Gatlin, who sailed with Mr. Gookin and worked with him at the Naval Institute, said they were preparing for the Maryland Capital Race this weekend.

Four times a national Rainbow Class champion, Mr. Gookin also was the 1985 Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association High Point Champion and three-time winner of the Annapolis Sailing School's annual Instructors' Regatta.

He was a former fleet captain of the Annapolis Rainbow Fleet and a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron.

Mr. Gookin, one of 10 children, was deeply involved with his 17 nieces and nephews, Jane Gookin said.

"He was the kind of uncle who would go look at their room and admire their belongings. He was always willing to play softball, badminton or whatever games the children wanted," she said.

Born in 1958 in South Weymouth, Mass., Mr. Gookin graduated from Northeast High in Pasadena in 1976. He was awarded an A. S. Abell Foundation scholarship to attend the University of Maryland School of Journalism. One semester, he covered sports and features for the campus newspaper, The Diamondback. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1980.

After graduation, he worked as design and production manager for Sea Technology magazine in Arlington before joining the Annapolis Sailing School as an instructor and promotions director.

Mr. Gookin is survived by his mother, Barbara Clayton Gookin of Baltimore, and his father, Roger B. Gookin of Fort Myers, Fla.; five brothers, Roger B. Gookin Jr. of Baltimore, John T. Gookin of Lander, Wyo., David L. Gookin of Stevensville, Patrick W. Gookin of Jacksonville, N.C., and Michael A. Gookin, of Fort Myers; four sisters, Martha A. Rickert of Baltimore, Kathleen M. Gookin-Savin of Olympia, Wash., Amy Elizabeth Gookin of Phippsburg, Me.; and Barbara J. Gookin of Nantucket, Mass.

A memorial service was to be held at 10 a.m. today at the Naval Academy's St. Andrew's Chapel.

The family suggested donations to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 162 Prince George St., Annapolis 21401, or to the University of Maryland Foundation, Attention: Patricia Wang, Director of Donor Relations, Institutional Advancement, College Park 20742.

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