Captain Adolph S. Oko Jr. (1904—1968)

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Captain Adolph S. Oko Jr. was a mariner who experienced numerous, storied, and improbable nautical adventures and exploits of his own. Born on December 12, 1904, he was the son of Dr. Adolph S. Oko, (1883–1944), a noted librarian and expert on Baruch Spinoza. Oko began serving on ships at age 18, and in 1942, he joined the US Merchant Marine and served through World War II. While in China, he was shot and imprisoned by Communists for a short time. Oko eventually served on six ships while on nine voyages and ended his career as a chief mate.

In 1948, Oko captained the S.S. Kefalos, one of the first ships to smuggle arms to Israel during the War of Independence. Subsequently, Kefalos continued another critically important mission which rescued slightly over 7,700 Jewish refugees from the Balkans and transported them to Israel in two voyages the same year. She safely deposited her last group, 3800 in all, at Haifa on December 25, 1948.

Oko was a long-time resident of the Point Reyes area where he conducted a real estate business. He was a well versed Drake historian and was one of the founding members of the Drake Navigators Guild. He was also active in the Inverness Yacht Club, operated an Elizabethan themed pub in Inverness, and supported carving out a new county—Drake county—out of Marin and Sonoma counties. He was also responsible for securing Guild membership and involvement of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. Oko notably authored an article about the determination of Point Reyes as Drake’s 1579 landing in the June 1964 issue of California Historical Society Quarterly.

He served as the second president of the Guild and died in 1968 at age 58. One can be read much further about Oko’s life in The Odyssey of a Ship with Three Names by Renato Barahona.