On National Lighthouse Day, Lighthouse Digest, in cooperation with the Maine Lighthouse Museum, held a brief ceremony to place a United States Coast Guard historical marker at the grave site of Ken Black, who was known by many as “Mr. Lighthouse.”
The ceremony, which was held at the Lake View Cemetery in Union, Maine opened with the singing of the song, “Legend of the Lighthouse.” This was followed by remarks by Timothy Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest, and by Jim Thompson, a close friend of Ken Black and his family. Then the marker was unveiled by Ken’s widow, Dot Black, and Ken’s grandson, Travis Wyman. The service closed with everyone holding hands as the “Lighthouse Keeper’s Prayer” was recited by Timothy Harrison.
CWO Ken Black, who had a long illustrious career with the United States Coast Guard, including service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, began saving lighthouse artifacts from being destroyed as far back as the early 1960s. When he retired from the Coast Guard in 1973, he was the official curator of the Coast Guard’s First District.
However, Ken Black’s saving of lighthouse artifacts did not end with his retirement from the Coast Guard. In fact, that’s when it began in full swing as he spent the rest of his life searching for lighthouse artifacts that otherwise would surely have been destroyed and lost forever. As the collection continued to grow and hundreds of people came forward to donate or loan more artifacts, the collection was housed for many years in the Shore Village Museum in Rockland.
But CWO Black continued his quest for artifacts even after the collection outgrew its location and many items were put in storage. His dream of a first class museum on the waterfront became a reality when, in 2005, the Maine Lighthouse Museum opened its doors to house the largest collection in the nation of lighthouses lenses, lamps, and other lighthouse artifacts.
When Ken Black passed away in January of 2007 his passing was mourned by the lighthouse community nationwide.
His funeral service, which was locally televised, took place at the Maine Lighthouse Museum.
This story appeared in the
Sep/Oct 2015 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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