George Drew, grandson of famous lighthouse keeper Frank Drew, had the opportunity this past July 23rd to visit the Coast Guard cutter that was named after his grandfather.
The USCGC Frank Drew (WLM 557) was the seventh cutter in the Keeper Class of Coastal Buoy Tenders constructed by Marinette Marine Corporation.
Born in 1864, Frank Drew was raised on Green Island, a small 90-acre slice of land in Green Bay, Lake Michigan near Marinette, Wisconsin, where his father Samuel Drew was the lighthouse keeper from 1868 to 1881. Frank and his brother George Drew followed in their father’s footsteps and both became lighthouse keepers, and both went on to serve as keepers at Green Island where they had been born and raised
Frank Drew started his lighthouse career at Pilot Island Lighthouse in 1899 and became the 1st assistant keeper at Green Island Light in 1903, head keeper in 1909, serving in that position until 1929, becoming the longest serving keeper to serve at Green Island Lighthouse. Interestingly, his brother, George Drew, served as his assistant keeper at Green Island from 1909 to 1915.
After his wife died in 1902, Frank Drew wanted to raise his three children on the island where he had grown up and he was able to secure the transfer to Green Island Lighthouse as the 1st assistant keeper. But the assignment almost ended before it started. It took Frank Drew and his children, one who was sick, an amazing 17 days to make the 49-mile voyage in a small schooner, battling ice all the way.
During his long tenure at Green Island Lighthouse, Frank Drew was credited with numerous rescues. For example, from 1912 to 1914 alone, he was credited with rescuing more than thirty people and received four citations for heroism.
When Frank Drew died of a heart attack on February 2, 1931, lighthouse keepers travelled from all parts of the Great Lakes to attend his funeral. His pallbearers were lighthouse keepers or retired keepers. Frank Drew and his wife Mary Louisa are buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Marinette, Wisconsin.
This story appeared in the
Sep/Oct 2020 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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