Ten lighthouse keepers and one life saving station keeper were recently honored and remembered with the placement of historical grave markers during two separate cemetery ceremonies held in Maine this past May 28 and June 2.
The events honored the memory and legacy of seven lighthouse keepers of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, three U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse keepers, and one keeper of the U.S. Life Saving Service whose dates of service spanned over 170 years, from 1896 to 1968.
Both events were sponsored, organized, and planned by Lighthouse Digest in partnership with Maine’s West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association. In addition to dozens of attendees, many of the descendants and family members of the lighthouse keepers being honored also attended and participated in the ceremonies, as did representatives from three different units of the U.S. Coast Guard and local dignitaries. A number of family members of the keepers spoke of their personal recollections and other memories that had been passed down.
Lighthouse and life-saving songs for both events were performed by Jim Sherman and Stephen Sanfilippo from the group “From Away Downeast,” and the Honor Guard for both ceremonies, who also provided the gun salute and taps, was provided by the American Legion Post 65 of Lubec, Maine, which was under the command of George “Bubba” Eaton, a former Coast Guard lighthouse keeper at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. In addition, Wreaths Across America provided wreaths for all the keepers’ gravesites.
The West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association hosted a reception at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine after the May 28th ceremony, and the Machiasport Historical Society hosted a reception at the historic Gates House in Machiasport, Maine after the June 2nd ceremony.
Timothy Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest, acted as Master of Ceremonies for both events and also gave a presentation on the lives of each lighthouse keeper at both events, often touching on written memories of their lives, where they served, and the sacrifices they all made as they contributed to our society as a nation. Harrison concluded his remarks by saying, “It has often by said by others before me that a person dies twice, once with their final breath and later the last time their name is said. We must never allow the latter to happen. It is our responsibility to keep alive the memory of those who served so diligently at our nation’s lighthouses, often at great hardship, all for the benefit of others. Let us never forget to honor and carry forward the legacy that they have given us.”
After the June 2nd ceremony Shar Landers of the Machiasport Historical Society wrote to us with the following comments, “Those of us who attended your “Lighthouse Keeper Marker Ceremony” were struck by how thoughtfully it had been prepared. Together, the printed program with the included photos, speeches, music and musicians, stories, and overall service, resulted in an especially moving and memorable experience!”
Ephraim N. Johnson, USLHS: Libby Island Light 1896 to 1899, Great Duck Island Light 1900 to 1901, West Quoddy Head Light 1901-1931. Maurice A. Babcock, Sr., USLHS: Bird Island Light 1919-1926, Boston Light 1926-1941. Don F. Ashby, USCG: West Quoddy Head Light 1953-1956, Moose Peak Light 1956-1958. Ira E. Scovill, USLSS: Keeper Quoddy Head Life Saving Station. Charles A. Kenney, USLHS: Petit Manan Light 1903-1905, Libby Island Light 1905-1912, Little River Light 1913-1923, St. Croix River Light 1923-1930. Eugene C. Ingalls USLHS: West Quoddy Light 1907-1912, Moose Peak Light 1912-1914, Petit Manan Light 1914-1916. Harold L. Kilton, USLHS: Libby Island Light 1907, 1912, Goose Rocks Light c. 1932-1945, Doubling Pt Range 1945-1949. Gleason W. Colbeth, USLHS: Additional keeper at Seguin Island, Goose Rocks, Ram Island, Great Duck, and Isles of Shoals Lighthouses1930 to 1932, Libby Island Light 1932-1945, Little River Light 1945-1950. Eugene N. Larrabee, USLHS: Petit Manan Light 1909-1930, West Quoddy Head Light 1930-1940. Robert Cale, Sr., USCG: Libby Island Light 1949-1951, Little River Light 1951-1956. Clayton L. Coffin, Sr., USCG: West Quoddy Light 1964, Moose Peak Light 1965-1966, West Quoddy Light 1966-1968.
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 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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