Digest>Archives> March 2005

A True Lighthouse Friend is Lost

By Timothy Harrison

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Shown here is Dick Melville, center, with Tim ...

Richard “Dick” A. Melville, president of Maine’s Friends of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation has passed away.

Dick was a special person, one that was admired, respected and well liked. He was a down-to-earth guy, what many of us refer to as “good people.”

When Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was turned over to the American Lighthouse Foundation, (ALF), Dick was the first person to step forward to lead a chapter. He worked diligently in forming the chapter and finding and training dedicated volunteers. He led the way in opening the lighthouse to the general public on a regular basis, making Pemaquid Point Lighthouse the first land-based lighthouse on the coast of Maine to be open to the public at scheduled times.

Under his leadership he led the way in the battle for a Maine lighthouse quarter, which eventually happened when the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse became the first lighthouse in history to adorn United States money. He also worked hard in helping to assure that ALF played a leading role in the ceremony that included the Director of the U.S. Mint and the Governor of Maine. In fact when Dick Melville escorted Maine’s Governor John Baldacci to the top of the lighthouse, it was the first time that a Maine governor had climbed the steps of Pemaquid Point Light.

As well as serving as president of the Friends group, he served on the Board of Directors of the American Lighthouse Foundation and was president of the Round Top Center for the Arts in Damariscotta, Maine and his leadership also led that group to new heights.

Dick had an illustrious career before retiring to the coast of Maine to take up volunteerism as a full-time job. He served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U. S. State Department in Laos and Cambodia. Among his many credits included being President and CEO of Allied Bank International in New York from 1973 to 1983 and as Chief International Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the People’s Republic of China. In 1971, he was instrumental in brokering an agreement with the North Vietnamese that allowed French archeologists to cross Communist lines to continue leading the preservation work at Angkor Wat. He was devoted to the people of Cambodia and served as a personal advisor to King Norodom Sihanouk.

But his real love, outside of family and friends, was the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. In fact on the day of his death, he and his wife Angela spent a picture-perfect hour at the lighthouse basking in the warm sun, which is unusual at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse that time of the year. He mentioned to his wife how he wished he could climb the spiral steps that day, but he wasn’t up to it. A few hours later at 8 p.m. that night, he passed away.

Dick was a real friend to the preservation movement, and many people considered him a friend. He will be missed by all of us, but none of us will ever forget him.

Plans are underway to place a memorial plaque in the entryway building of the tower at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in honor of Dick Melville, our friend.

This story appeared in the March 2005 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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