GayLyn Bradley's hands are blotched with white paint and she's starting to droop a little with fatigue, but her indomitable spirit shines through as she speaks about her most recent project, restoring the windows in Oregon's Umpqua River Lighthouse to their original design.
This project, which GayLyn hopes to have completed by the end of the month, has taken almost two years and a lot of determination to accomplish. Disappointment after disappointment made it seem for a while that the lighthouse window project would never be completed. Then, a northwest company that manufactures doors and windows, Jeld-Wen, offered to provide — free of charge — all the windows for the project if GayLyn would find the funding for installation.
With funding and windows in hand, all that now remains is to paint all ten windows white and call in the team from Constructor Services to install them. A dedication will be held during Preservation Month in early May of 2006.
Window replacement is just one of the many tasks GayLyn has accomplished since she became a volunteer lighthouse keeper at Umpqua River three years ago. When she isn't busy mowing the lawn or training new volunteers to staff the museum and guide tours of the lighthouse, she manages to keep busy with the day-to-day routine of maintaining the lighthouse, museum and grounds. One day she might be found on her knees scraping old paint from the floor of the upper levels of the museum building, another will find her sorting through old documents for new treasures to hang on the walls for visitors to enjoy.
GayLyn's great love of the Umpqua River Lighthouse is apparent to anyone who listens to her speak of the old sentinel-of-the-sea or hears her plans for renovation of the lighthouse and surrounding grounds. Her caring extends to all those who have served the lighthouse: her young “coasties” of the present; retired Coast Guardsmen who talk to her about their memories of having spent time in service at station Umpqua River and former keepers, their families and friends.
GayLyn's next project is to redesign the museum building, dividing it into sections that showcase the history of the area and the Coast Guard. Planned for public viewing in the upper floor of the museum will be a historically accurate display showing the living quarters of the Coast Guardsmen who served there.
While the U.S. Coast Guard owns the lighthouse, Douglas County leases the sentinel and is searching for funding to complete this project in the next few years. Their lighthouse keeper has been attending meetings of service organizations around the area to show drawings that envision the finished project.
This past summer, Douglas County added GayLyn to their paid staff, a move she strongly resisted. She's more likely to spend money on the projects she loves than to accept money for fulfilling what she sees as the promise of what the lighthouse compound could become in the next few years.
Umpqua River Lighthouse has a first order Fresnel lens with 616 glass prisms and it has beams of white and red, shining out to the sea for those who seek the entrance jetties leading to Salmon Harbor and Winchester Bay.
Thank you, GayLyn Bradley for your care and keeping of Oregon's Umpqua River Lighthouse. The lighthouse community salutes you for the countless hours you volunteer to keep the light burning. We are pleased to honor you with the Lighthouse Digest Beacon of Light Award for making a difference in helping to save our nation's historic lighthouses and the history associated with them. You are making a difference. Congratulations!
If you served in the Coast Guard at
the former Station Umpqua River from 1939 to 1968 and have memories or memorabilia to share, please contact GayLyn Bradley at (541) 271-4631 or email@example.com,
or write to her at 1020 Lighthouse Road, Reedsport, OR 97467. More information about Umpqua River Lighthouse may
be found on the Lighthouse Digest website at www.LighthouseDigest.com by typing in “Umpqua” in the search box. We have mailed GayLyn her Lighthouse Digest Beacon of Light Award. Be sure to ask her about it
the next time you visit Oregon's Umpqua River Lighthouse.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2006 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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