New York Times Portraits of Grief

Anne Rose Ransom

When her husband's chatter about buying a sailboat turned serious two years ago, Anne Rose Ransom — who disliked being on the water about as much as did her overweight pet, Pig Cat — decided it was time once again to stare down her fears. She signed up for a sailing class for women in Annapolis, Md.

When she came back home to Edgewater, N.J., a week later she still was no sailor, but she had gained her sea legs. She did not get seasick anymore, and she even threw out a couple of nautical terms that disguised her nervousness about falling into the water when the boat tacked hard.

Forcing herself to take risks was the way Mrs. Ransom, 45, lived many aspects of her life. It was a part of how she showed her concern for others, from her co-workers in the travel department at American Express to her oldest and best friends. "She didn't really like sailing, but God, she tried," said Michielle Glynn, a friend since high school. Over the years Ms. Glynn learned that in her own understated way, Mrs. Ransom ruled out almost nothing. "She was a subtle adventuress," she said.

Once they went skiing, but it was only when the lift reached the top of the slope that Ms. Glynn learned her friend was afraid of heights. As a lark they once bought dirt bikes. Only when the bikes were delivered did Mrs. Ransom admit she'd never been on one before. Learning to sail was the same. "She knew how much I enjoyed sailing, and she wanted to learn how to enjoy it too," said her husband, Robert.

This spring he did buy his sailboat, a 27 footer. Mrs. Ransom wanted to call it Pig Cat.

Mr. Ransom called it the Anne Rose.