The late Ken Black, (1923-2007), founder of the Maine Lighthouse Museum and known by many as “Mr. Lighthouse,” was honored in a Memorial Street Dedication Ceremony on October 13th in Rockland, Maine. The event was paid for and sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector New England Chief Petty Officer Association and The Maine Officer’s Association.
The ceremony, followed by the unveiling, was attended by a large crowd of United States Coast Guard personnel and many family and friends, as well as Lighthouse Digest subscribers from Massachusetts, New York, and Maine.
Speakers for the event were Rockland City Mayor Louise MacLellan-Ruf; CWO Paul Dilger (USCG Ret.), President of the Maine Lighthouse Museum; Timothy Harrison, Editor of Lighthouse Digest and member of the Board of Directors of the Maine Lighthouse Museum, and family member Wanda Gamage-Wyman. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was BMC Sean J. Dolan, XPO of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tackle, which is home-ported in Rockland.
The Rockland Mayor spoke how proud she was of the fact Rockland, Maine is a Coast Guard City, and that when the Coast Guard approached her with the idea of a memorial street sign, the answer was a no-brainer.
Paul Dilger spoke of Ken Black’s illustrious 32-year career in the United States Coast Guard, including Black’s World War II era where he saw action in the invasion of Okinawa, and of course his later career as the Official Curator of First Coast Guard District and then as founder of the Maine Lighthouse Museum.
Coincidentally and appropriately, the Memorial Street Dedication coincided with the 300th Anniversary of Boston Lighthouse, America’s first light station, where many years ago, long before the Maine Lighthouse Museum existed, Ken Black created the first exhibit at the base of the tower at Boston. The exhibit, although since expanded, is still there today.
Harrison talked about his personal relationship with Ken Black who was his friend and his mentor, and how the Maine Lighthouse Museum, which houses the largest collection of lighthouse artifacts in the nation, is a monument to Ken Black’s legacy that many future generations will learn from.
In his remarks, Harrison said, “In 2005, at the dedication of the Ken Black Exhibition Hall at the Maine Lighthouse Museum, Rear Admiral David P. Pekoske, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, was on hand to honor Ken with a special framed letter from the Commandant of the Coast Guard. However, Admiral Pekoske did admit that the Commandant of the Coast Guard had wanted to honor Ken with a special award, but found that Ken Black had previously, at one time or another, received every award possible from the United States Coast Guard. Well, today, as Ken is here with us in spirit and watching us from above, we know that he would be chuckling as today “You” (pointing to the Coast Guard personnel) have one up on the Commandant with this unique honor that Ken Black had not previously been bestowed.
In his conclusion Harrison said, “So this salute is for Ken Black ‘Mr. Lighthouse’ who led his life by the two simple words for which he was so well known: ‘Be Neighborly.’ And,” while pointing to the new street sign, he said, “Now, as of today, he really is part of the neighborhood.”
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2016 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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