Digest>Archives> November 2000

Keeper’s interesting career


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Having served in two wars, two additional hitches in the Army and Navy respectively, former lighthouse keeper Joseph O. Bouley, Sr. “wanted to serve again” he told Navy recruiters when he appeared at their office to watch his 18-year-old son be sworn into the Navy. He said he made that decision a week earlier when another son, age 17, had also joined the Navy.

Proving that former lighthouse keepers were made of the “right stuff,” at age 62 he wanted to serve as an instructor as he did from 1917 to 1921 as a chief gunners mate. Navy recruiters forwarded his application on to Washington.

Joseph O. Bouley Sr. indeed was made of the “right stuff” and led an interesting career.

The father of 11 children, in 1942, Mr. Bouley had six sons and a daughter living. His first family, including his wife and four children, were lost in a flu epidemic during World War I.

At age 19, he saw his first action in the Philippines in 1899 during the Spanish-American War. Without suffering a scratch, he went through 11 actions in that war serving as an infantryman. He reenlisted in 1901 for a three-year hitch, serving in the Coast Artillery for three years at Fort Adams, Rhode Island.

In 1910, he joined the Lighthouse Service, serving for four years, first as assistant keeper at Whale Rock Lighthouse, RI and then at Gull Rock Light, RI. He then joined the U.S. Navy where he served as a drillmaster. He later re-joined the U.S. Lighthouse Service and served as the First Assistant Keeper at Sakonnet Light, RI from 1937 until 1943 when he retired due to a disability.

Mr. Bouley died at age 72 in 1952 and was buried at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York with full military honors.

This story appeared in the November 2000 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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