Thomas Dornhofer, 67, Boat Engineer

Aug. 2, 1948 - Feb. 1, 2016
Thomas Dornhofer

Thomas B. Dornhofer, a maritime engineer who had traveled the world by sea, died on Feb. 1 at the Woman’s Christian Association Hospital in Jamestown, N.Y., after a heart attack. He was 67.

Growing up on Long Island, Mr. Dornhofer had been around the water all his life, starting as a little boy fishing with his father on a 12-foot boat. Once he earned a chief engineer’s license, he worked on boats of all kinds, from tankers, ferry boats, and tugboats to research vessels and private motor and sailing yachts. But, his family said, he always returned home, to the people he loved.

Mr. Dornhofer took great pride in his work, they said. When he was on board as a boat’s engineer, the crew knew they were in good hands. He thought, they said, that he was blessed to be able to experience the world through his vocation, on so many voyages to faraway places. His favorite place to visit, he always said, was the one he had not yet been to.

The son of the late Richard C. and Victoria (Dixie) Massingill Dornhofer, he was born on Aug. 2, 1948, in Rockville Centre. He graduated in 1970 from the New York State Maritime Academy at Fort Schuyler in the Bronx with a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering.

In between jobs at sea, Mr. Dornhofer could be found at a workbench, fixing something that needed repairing, or building something from scratch. He also worked on special effects for big-screen movies, operated his own business for a time, worked in a shellfish hatchery, and was a harbormaster for one of the marinas in East Hampton. He enjoyed long motorcycle trips, reading, yoga, and daily walks along the beach here with the family dogs.

Mr. Dornhofer had been married to Chucky Bologna of East Hampton, who survives. He also is survived by a son, Paul T. Dornhofer of East Hampton, as well as by three siblings, Diane Atcheson of Jamestown, Elizabeth Dornhofer of New York City, and Richard Dornhofer of California.

Mr. Dornhofer will be remembered by his friends and loved ones, the family said, as a “smart, funny, and generous soul who was always ready to lend a hand.”

Mr. Dornhofer was cremated. A memorial service is planned for the summer. Memorial contributions have been suggested to the Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037.