Over 100 people attended a potluck supper at the Bay Ridge Elementary School in the tiny fishing village of Cutler, Maine to honor 90-year-old Capt. Purcell W. Corbett for his contributions to the community and to the lighthouse and maritime heritage of Maine.
The event was sponsored by the Friends of Little River Lighthouse to also honor Corbett as the last surviving child of Willie W. Corbett who was the last keeper of the United States Lighthouse Service to serve at Maine’s Little River Lighthouse located on an island in Cutler Harbor.
Corbett spent his entire childhood years living on island lighthouses, including nearly 15 years at Little River Lighthouse. Later in life, for 18 years, he operated a tour boat that took people out to Machias Seal Island Lighthouse. For a time he was partners with Capt. Barna Norton who gained national media attention for his family’s claim that they owned Machias Seal Island and not the Canadian government. For many years Norton and Corbett would plant the American flag on the island only to have the Canadian keeper’s remove it. However, they were always good friends with the Canadian lighthouse keepers.
Corbett cut the first piece of a large sheet cake featuring an image of Little River Lighthouse that also had his name on it, which had been preceded by the audience singing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow.”
Corbett, a talented musician in his own right, stood in front of the audience to join with the entertainers in singing a lighthouse song at the end of evening, which he followed by thanking everyone for attending to honor him.
Corbett was presented with a framed painting done by Maine artist Pam Britton of the lighthouse and Corbett’s wife Josephine was given a bouquet of flowers.
Corbett also had on hand a number of photo albums that people browsed through of his many life experiences. The evening ended with a number of people winning lighthouse related door prizes and raffle items.
To learn more about the Little River Lighthouse, which will be available for overnight stays this summer, you can visit their web site at www.LittleRiverLight.org or call them at 207-259-3833.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 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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