They came to the sailing mecca of Newport, Rhode Island, for not one but two celebrations.

The first was for the 25th anniversary of New York-listed Pangaea Logistics Solutions and its predecessor companies.

The second was a celebration of the life of Pangaea founder and chief executive Ed Coll in a belated memorial service following his death in December 2021 at age 64.

Travel and group gatherings were still under the shadow of Covid-19 at the time of Coll’s passing. But the Newport-based company always intended a memorial. Combining it with Pangaea’s celebration proved to be apt.

“It’s impossible to talk about the company without talking about Ed, and it’s impossible to talk about Ed without talking about the company,” said Claus Boggild, Pangaea’s co-founder, lead independent director and Coll’s friend of 31 years.

“Ed was more than anyone central to making the company what it is today. The anniversary of the company today is a milestone, of which we’ve had quite a few.”

Guests who travelled from as far as Pangaea’s Singapore offices heard the story of a New York City police detective’s son who earned a scholarship to the US Merchant Marine Academy on the strength of his ability as a football player.

Coll was described as a free spirit and “rebel” who surprised family with his acceptance of the conformity associated with a military academy en route to being a natural leader in shipping.

“He knew how to work, he knew how to grind,” said Coll’s younger brother, Tim. “He didn’t conform to authority, but he did this because he knew he had a goal. That helped him become a great CEO.”

Longtime friend Patrick Krebs, senior vice president of New York-based MID-SHIP Group, said he most admired Coll’s “insatiable” intellectual curiosity.

“Pangaea stands as a testament to what a special person Ed was,” Krebs said. “He was wicked smart, as they say around here, but it was belied by his soft-spoken nature.

“He was extremely kind, honest, thoughtful, humble, a great leader and a mentor to many people in this room. He also had great vision. He sensed opportunities that other people didn’t see.”

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Others remembered Coll’s strong dedication to his family, his charitable contributions to environmental and other causes in the Newport area, and his humble nature in running the niche-cargo dry bulk company.

“Ed liked to sit in the bullpen near the coffee station because he wanted to talk to everyone every day,” said Mark Filanowski, his successor as CEO. “He could kid around, he could cajole, he could demand, as each situation might require.

“I think it’s memories and stories like this that are a real legacy and true afterlife for someone. If I could just sum it up, Ed Coll was a really great guy.”