On Friday, December, 3 2021, the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation hosted a ceremony to place a United States Lighthouse Service Memorial Marker on the grave of Benjamin Howard Lowe, Sr. to commemorate his years of service as a lighthouse keeper. In attendance were Walter Lowe and Gary Smith, grandsons of Benjamin Howard Lowe. Unfortunately, Mrs. Betty Lowe Phelps, granddaughter of keeper Lowe, was unable to attend but did send some notes about Mr. Lowe’s life.
Mr. Lowe initially crewed on boats in Key West, but in 1929, he joined the U.S. Lighthouse Service and was assigned as first assistant keeper at Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, also known as “The Eye of Miami.”
So that his family would be closer, he moved his wife, Maria (often referred to as Mary in published histories), and three children to Coconut Grove. After his wife suffered a difficult delivery of their fourth child, she was in poor health, so Lowe moved the family back to Key West and requested a transfer to the Tortugas Light Station (Loggerhead Key Lighthouse) in 1931.
He was then stationed at the American Shoal Light until the end of 1938, when he became an assistant keeper at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse. While stationed at Sanibel Island, Mr. Lowe opted to be commissioned in the United States Coast Guard after it took over the U.S. Lighthouse Service on July 1, 1939.
After the death of his wife Mary in 1943, and with the onset of his own heart-related health issues, Lowe retired from the USCG in July of 1944. Mr. Lowe later lived in Miami where he and his son, Howard, Jr., operated a shell factory and business.
Benjamin Lowe outlived three of his four wives and died on March 8, 1989, at the age of 91.
The Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation (FKRLF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and history of the six reef lights along the Florida Keys reef line.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2022 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.
All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.