Digest>Archives> January 1999

In Memoriam - Dorothy Bauman


We are saddened to report the death of Dorothy Helen Bauman, (Dottie), wife of Rear Admiral Richard A. Bauman, USCG (Ret). Dottie was a true lover of lighthouses, having visited, and climbed the towers, along with her husband, of a large number of lighthouses across the United States. She spent a couple of very happy years as Assistant Keeper of Hospital Point Range Light in Beverly, Massachusetts when the Baumans were stationed there in the mid-1980's.

Dottie was a needle-worker of great renown. Her cross stitch embroidery was of museum quality. She was always drafted to be a point person for the Coast Guard wives' embroidered lighthouse quilting projects. She produced the Coast Guard Seal center square on the thirty five square lighthouse quilts - plus her own Hospital Point and a few others. Producing a varied quilt in the service has many factors involved. The squares had to be laid out, taking into consideration the color, quality, rank and seniority of the submitter. One senior embroider wanted to reproduce Ambrose Light Tower for one of the center slots. Ambrose has no known cross stitch pattern - but Chesapeake Light Tower does. After conversing with her so-called expert husband, she sent off the commercial pattern and yarn for Chesapeake with only the "Chesapeake" lettering changed to "Ambrose". Much to their surprise the red tower of Ambrose came back blue! After swearing that there were no blue lighthouses in the United States, Admiral Bauman sought to take refuge in the Light List. Chesapeake Light Tower is blue! After a lot of razzing of her husband, a few telephone calls, and a bit of thread picking and redoing, Ambrose came out the correct red. She thereafter did the Light List research herself.

One lighthouse quilt project was undertaken to present as a gift to a retiring Commandant of the Coast Guard. As Commandants retire at the end of May, there was a critical time element in assembling the thirty five squares. With thirty-four in hand, the quilting bee went into full steam ahead. The last square producer kept telling Dottie that the embroidery "was in the mail." Finally, the ultimate, final, no fooling, this is it, crunch day came. It looked as though the Commandant's toes would be sticking through the hole 35 in his bed quilt. Dottie sat down, and, working all night, embroidered the lettering, "IT'S IN THE MAIL!" with the name of the culprit's wives' club bordered by flowers to fill in for the missing square. Much to her husband's disgust, the thirty-fifth square arrived the morning of the presentation. The "IT'S IN THE MAIL" square was of much better quality - but the quilting crew was able to replace it with only moments to spare. Dottie always kept her square in her sewing box for the next must-get-it-done project.

Dottie's standard was to only reproduce the lighthouse in cross stitch if she had actually climbed the tower. When Admiral Bauman gets to the lantern room of a lighthouse, he posts his Lighthouse Inspector's sticker with the date. When Dottie was with him, they wrote "D2" on the card. When you reach the top of some remote lighthouse, the "D2" is the sign that she was there also.

One long day along the Gulf of Mexico, she climbed 565 lighthouse steps to be able to embroider the lights. When she told friends that the 565 steps was something that she would never do again, they asked why she did it the first time, Dottie said, "My husband loves lighthouses and I love him!"

One lighthouse that she really wanted to climb was White Shoal Lighthouse in the northern end of Lake Michigan. White Shoal has a truly candy-stripe tower. The red and white stripes spiral up at an angle of 30 degrees. (Virginia Souza's artist rendition of White Shoals appeared on the cover of the our December issue of Lighthouse Digest.) When she reached the tower, the one critical ladder rung in the light's base was missing. It looked like she would be stuck in the boat. However, a quick thinking seaman wove a rung out of the line to help her up the base. White Shoal Light was in its "purpley pink" phase at the time of her visit. She flicked a paint sample off the tower. The inside of the chip was bright red, the color the stripes should be. Using the chip as a dual color sample, she made a shirt for the Admiral with the true red and white striped tower on the pocket and a dress with her admired "purpley pink" on the bodice for herself. Those of you that cross stitch, know how easy a tower striped at 45 degrees is to produce. Making a pattern for the 30 degree stripes of White Shoal required a color decision to be made for each cross stitch. When she finished the embroidery, Dottie had to only change two stitches from white to red or vice versa.

When the Baumans were stationed at Hospital Point, the Admiral had a Lighthouse Service bell installed on the light station. It still tunes magnificently when struck - the reverberations last over thirty seconds. Dottie got tired of seeing her husband showing off "his" bell by striking it with a convenient stick of cordwood. She bought a mechanic's hard rubber hammer and hung it beside the bell. Announcing that this was the way it should be rung, she pounded the bell with a mighty blow - a feeble, mousey "Boyink" was all that the hammer and bell ever produced. The Admiral told her that her discovery of a way to bash a lighthouse bell with all your might without making any sound would be published in the old Lighthouse Service Bulletin, if it were still being published. As far as is known, Hospital Point fog bell is still ringing beautifully with that stick of cordwood!

Although there won't be any more "D2's", Dottie Bauman left her husband with a lifetime supply of lighthouse embroidered sweaters, shirts and neckties as lasting memories of their adventures. She also left a host of friends and admirers.

This story appeared in the January 1999 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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