Digest>Archives> December 2009

Managing Editor Honored With Great Lakes Lighthouse Award


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Joy and Marv Theut surprised Kathleen Finnegan ...
Photo by: Lee Scherwitz

-Kathleen Finnegan, managing editor of Lighthouse Digest, was recently honored with the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival’s Founders Award for her 20 year involvement in lighthouse preservation.

In presenting the award at this year’s 14th Annual Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, held in Alpena, Michigan, Marv Theut, one of co-founders of the largest lighthouse festival held yearly in the United States, said, "This honor to Kathleen is long overdue. For many years she has played a significant role in helping to preserve and save lighthouses and the history associated with them for the next generation."

Theut went on by saying, "As well as being a strong supporter in many various ways, too numerous to mention, of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, she has always stepped forward to help, often times without being asked, to assist with any lighthouse cause, not just on the Great Lakes, but in many other parts of the nation. Although I realize she is not in this for awards, but rather for the love of drawing public attention to saving lighthouse history, this honor to her by our organization is long overdue."

Finnegan first got involved with lighthouses in 1989 when she co-authored a book on the lighthouses of Maine. Since then she was a co-founder of Lighthouse Depot in Wells, a founding member of the non-profit American Lighthouse Foundation, which she served as treasurer of for 12 years, and co-owner of FogHorn Publishing, which publishes lighthouse history books, including the recent release, Ghost Lights of Michigan. She also currently serves as secretary of the Friends of Little River Lighthouse in Cutler, Maine and is a Director at Large of the American Lighthouse Foundation, headquartered in Rockland, Maine.

Finnegan was not expecting the award. In fact when the award was about to be announced at the Great Lakes Festival’s annual dinner, she went to the front of the room with other photographers to take a photograph of the recipient. As she got her camera focused, pointed and ready, she heard Theut announce her name. She said, "There I was, camera in hand, ready to take a photo of the recipient, and the recipient was me! I didn’t know what to do at first, until someone quickly grabbed my camera and said ‘Get up there; I’ll take your camera!’ "

Theut went on by saying that Finnegan is very dedicated to saving lighthouses, especially in recounting and rediscovering lost lighthouse history, including the memories of the keepers and family members who once lived at the historic structures. He said, "A lot of what she does is ‘behind the scenes work’ that most people never see. I wanted the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival to be the first organization to honor her nationally."

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, which is dedicated to promoting lighthouse awareness to the general public, is attended every year by thousands of people. At the Thunder Bay Recreation Center in Alpena, each year for the festival, numerous vendors, including many lighthouse preservation groups, set up exhibits to help promote their lighthouse at the public. Additionally, many lighthouses along Michigan’s coastline open their towers for tours during the festival. Other events include dinners, lectures, auctions and raffles; all to support lighthouse preservation awareness.

Next year’s Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival will be held in Alpena, Michigan on October 7 to10. Since it will be the 15th year of the festival, organizers are already busy planning for a big celebration.

This story appeared in the December 2009 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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