Challenge-14 A balance between sorrow and celebration

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Project by CueballRosendaul posted 09-22-2012 12:24 PM 2344 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Five years ago today, two men hired a charter a fishing boat, the Joe Cool, from Miami to ferry them to Bimini. Since it was a short and easy trip, the captain, Jake Branam took along his wife Kelly; crew member and Jake Branam’s half brother, Scott Michael Gamble; and Samuel Kairy. Kelley was a new mother with a toddler and a new baby only a few months old. She left the children with the grandparents and headed out for a sunny cruise and some time with her husband.

Midway through the trip, the two passengers pulled pistols from their baggage and shot all four, throwing them overboard. They headed for the coast of Cuba but ran out of fuel and were picked up by the Coast Guard. You can read the story of the FBI investigation at the link below.

You can read the entire story in the book, Murder on the High Seas by Carol Soret Cope. Or simply google “Murder on the Joe Cool” and you can piece together the story from the news clippings.

I met Kelley when she was a troubled 15 year old cutting class and hanging out at the pool room I managed and later owned. It wasn’t too long until she was working for us. Over the years there in Kalamazoo, she became like a little sister that always seemed to need a little help, but what she mostly needed was people to love and believe in her. I can’t count how many Easter, Christmas, Thanksgivings, and other events where she was part of our family gatherings. At her graduation party, my family outnumbered hers 2 to 1.

She adored and doted on stray animals and grandparents. She had more life in her little finger than any of us could ever hope to have. When she was around, you could feel that tangible buzz of life. She had finally grown up into an amazing young woman. She would be 35 now. A huge lump in my throat as I think about her children and how they will never know the woman who was their mother.

When I was making the wine bottle balancers for my daughters upcoming wedding, my mind wandered to Kelley, Jake, Scott, and Sam, and their children and families. Since I had a few extra pieces, I ran a batch of them to send to their friends in Miami who get together each year and cruise out to the spot where the fateful event happened and toss flowers in the ocean in sorrow for their death and raise a toast to celebrate their lives.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

8 comments so far

View sedcokid's profile


2735 posts in 3804 days

#1 posted 09-22-2012 12:35 PM

Matt, what a kind and thoughtful thing to do for those who lost their families. I’m sure it ment a lot to them.

I do remember reading about this.

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2720 days

#2 posted 09-22-2012 01:19 PM

Excellent tribute, well timed. I also remember reading about this. I also love your delicate use of balance in your wine holders. I guess you have to drink the whole bottle or the balance changes! Of course you do!!!
And way to go, taking care of those in need. Just very, very well done.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2407 days

#3 posted 09-22-2012 04:21 PM

Very thoughtful tribute.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2898 days

#4 posted 09-22-2012 04:24 PM

That’s a brutal story. I have an idea about how I’d deal with them, but your way is better. Tribute.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Schwieb's profile


1872 posts in 3667 days

#5 posted 09-23-2012 01:00 PM

I remember this story. What a sad, unfortunate situation that was. Best wishes to your daughter and the upcoming wedding. You honor them all with your remembrance.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4366 days

#6 posted 11-01-2012 11:12 AM

I didn’t know the story. .. Tragic.

and out of the tragedy comes a little thread of beauty – your honouring of the individuals and their families, and this posting that shares not just the tragic story but the inspiration of Kelley’s story.
Thank you

And… it’s a great balancing project!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4366 days

#7 posted 11-01-2012 11:41 AM

Thanks for participating in this challenge

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Leonard5's profile


377 posts in 2898 days

#8 posted 09-05-2014 12:44 AM

What happened to the bad guys?

-- Leonard H.

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