The United States Lighthouse Society
Board of Directors
Wayne Wheeler - President
A 1962 graduate of Syracuse University, Wayne Wheeler is a retired Coast Guard officer, having spend 23 years in the Coast Guard in the aids to navigation field serving on ships, district offices and headquarters. While at Coast Guard Headquarters he helped write the National Navigation Plan with members of the other Armed Services. At one point in his career he was Chief of Aids to Navigation for Northern California.
"In 1984, Wayne founded the U. S. Lighthouse Society a national nonprofit society founded on history and education with a stress on preservation. The Society publishes a quarterly magazine (The Keeper's Log) and Bulletin, maintains a comprehensive library, owns and is restoring two lighthouses and has restored a former Coast Guard lightship.
Over the years he has been a member of numerous maritime related organizations and has presented talks from coast to coast from Key West to Block Island, RI to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and numerous west coast organizations. He has appeared on numerous television and radio program including National Public Radio, Good Morning America and CBS. Wayne has been written up in most U.S. newspapers as well as Life, Smithsonian, Americana, People and the Syracuse University Alumni magazine.
In 1986 the Society was winner of the Department of Transportation's Award for Outstanding Contribution to Historic Preservation. The Society also received a resolution from the California Senate, and the 2003 Phoenix Award from the American Travel Writers for Outstanding Accomplishment in Conservation and Preservation. The Foundation for Coast Guard History presented an award to Mr. Wheeler in recognition of promoting the U.S. Coast Guard through preserving the history of the U. S. Lighthouse Service. He was termed a "true pioneer in the preservation of America's lighthouses" by the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee.
Wayne has taught courses on the History of Lighthouses at the California Academy of Science and the University of North Carolina Asheville, Reuter Center, and although retired he remains President of the U.S. Lighthouse Society and a member of several nonprofit boards."
As President and Founder of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, the name Wayne Wheeler has become synonymous with lighthouse preservation and education. He is one of the pioneers of the lighthouse preservation movement and one of the foremost experts of lighthouse history in the U.S., and everyone fondly refers to him as the "Head 'Keep".
Wayne is a much sought-after source of lighthouse history and has appeared on many television news programs, at legislative meetings and in lighthouse videos to share his knowledge.
On June 6th, in Yorktown, VA, the Society held the first of five planned 25th Anniversary celebrations. The following letter was read aloud:
"In San Francisco, over a quarter century ago, you started the U.S. Lighthouse Society on your dining room table. At that time, I will bet that neither you nor anyone associated with the early organization could have imagined how far reaching the group would become or how it would change the lighthouse community. As the society grew, the headquarters moved to a high-rise office building in the middle of the financial district on Kearny Street. Here it remained for many years. The society's journal, The Keepers Log which began shortly after the organization's inception, is now twenty-five years old, and the 100th issue will soon be available. This magazine is a scholarly journal with important historical material. But it also serves as a mechanism to keep the members in touch with the organization. Additionally, you created local chapters for the society. This importantly allowed the organization to have an active presence across the Nation and to serve a national constituency.
As you are well aware, lighthouse enthusiasts come from extremely diverse backgrounds. The task of initially getting the lighthouse community united in a single cause was a challenge. Abraham Lincoln termed efforts such as this as "trying to shovel fleas across a barnyard." With your passion for lighthouses and your skills as a leader, you were able to unite people to solve common problems and issues within the historic lighthouse community. This was not easy and it was a constant challenge. The organization that you created also evolved. It is not just a loose collection of people. Your group has become the keepers of the history and the institutional memory of the US Lighthouse Service and of the men and women who served to keep the lights burning. Your organization has kept this flame alive by trimming the historical wick. Projects such as the preservation of the Thomas Point Lighthouse and the preservation of the Lightship LV 605 RELIEF, have defined the spirit of the organization as well as the prominence and the important influence that it has. During my more than twenty years with the Coast Guard Historian's Office, we worked together on a number of issues. As president of the organization, the members lovingly called you the "head keep." This was more than a nickname. In reality, you were the "keeper" of the organization and you served as the heart and soul of the group. Your passion for lighthouses and your single-minded efforts to promote lighthouses and the history of the US Lighthouse Service are unmatched and your influence is still immense. After more than twenty years, my affiliation with you and the US Lighthouse Society is among the fondest relationships of my job."
U.S. Coast Guard
Historian's Office (CG-09224)
*** Pictured above is Wayne and his wife Sally at the Thomas Point Shoal Transfer.Henry Gonzalez - Vice President
Mr. Gonzalez was the Society's Vice President for East Coast Operations from 1999 until 2006, when he assumed a broader role as the Society's sole Vice President. He served two terms as President of the Chesapeake Chapter of the Society from 1997 to 2007, is a past Secretary of the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee and was a member of the National Lighthouse Museum Steering Committee. He is the manager of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse and the Hooper Island Lighthouse, both located in the Chesapeake Bay and both obtained through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.
Henry performs all of his lighthouse-related duties as a volunteer; professionally, he is an executive with the Federal Aviation Administration, where he has ably lead and managed multi-billion dollar programs and hundreds of personnel. Lighthouses are in his blood: he is the great-great-grandson of a lighthouse keeper that served on the north coast of Spain from 1863 to 1904, and has a third cousin that is currently a lighthouse keeper in Spain.
Henry and his wife, Chris, have seen over 300 lighthouses, primarily throughout the United States and Spain, Portugal and France. They have three children and five grandchildren, the youngest of which are 8 year old twin boys, who are being trained to be future lighthouse keepers!
*** Pictured above is Henry, his wife Chris and their grandchildren on the way back from Thomas Point Shoal.Rear Admiral William F. Merlin
USCG (RET) - Treasurer
Admiral Merlin is a native of Tampa, Florida, where he now resides after completing a thirty-four year career in the U.S. Coast Guard. During Admiral Merlin's Coast Guard career, he was assigned on Coast Guard Cutters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean, and served in several shore engineering and RDT&E billets before serving as the Twelfth District Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff in San Francisco. Assignments at Coast Guard Headquarters as Comptroller (Chief Finance Officer) and Chief of Command, Communications and Control preceded his final assignment on active duty as Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans.
Following active duty, Bill established the Gulf Region of Marine Spill Response Corporation, the largest oil spill response organization in the nation. He recently completed a 1-year tour as Deputy Director, National Center for Maritime and Port Security. In 1996, Bill developed a course in oil spill response management for the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, and is now serving as the principle instructor for the classes.
Admiral Merlin is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; U.S. Naval Postgraduate School; Defense Weapons Systems Management College; and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
*** Pictured above is Bill presiding as Master of Ceremonies at the christening of the LCVP Marvin Perrett, at the Regional Military Museum whose mission it is to honor all Veterans from all service branches from all U.S. Wars.Mike Vogel - Secretary
Mike Vogel was the organizer and founding president of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association, which began restoration of the city's historic 1833 lighthouse in 1985. He held that post for 22 years, leading an effort that included reinstallation of a Fresnel lens in the long-disused tower and its relighting for the opening of the U.S.-Canadian Friendship Festival in 1987.
A journalist, Mike also did extensive research on the lighthouse and Buffalo's harbor history, authoring or co-authoring five books on maritime and lighthouse history and publishing articles in regional and national magazines. His work at the local level soon led to efforts for the national lighthouse preservation movement and participation in National Maritime Alliance conferences. After launching and completing the first compilation of surviving American Fresnel lenses an effort that later expanded into a complete national lighthouse lens inventory, he served on the National Lighthouse Museum steering committee and its site selection committee, becoming a founding trustee of the museum.
He was elected as the first First Vice President of the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee, taking over day-to-day operation of the ALCC under Dick Moehl's leadership. Mike then was elected to the ALCC presidency and served two additional three-year terms, developing the committee's bylaws and establishing its position as the national lighthouse preservation movement's leadership council and forum. Several of the committee's pioneering position and research papers were completed on his watch, and the ALCC was instrumental in helping the government develop implementation guidelines for the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.
As head of the ALCC and Buffalo Lighthouse Association, Mike partnered with the National Park Service to run the second national lighthouse lens conservation workshop in Buffalo in 2002. He also organized and ran the extensive lighthouse tracks at the national Maritime Heritage Conferences in Wilmington, NC in 2001, Norfolk, VA in 2004 and San Diego, CA in 2007.
Brian Deans is a longtime member of the Society and a Board member since 2004.
He is a graduate of Michigan State University and served in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier Bennington while on patrol in the Far East: Japan, Philippines and Viet Nam. He spent his business career in commercial Marine Insurance underwriting and advises on the Society's insurance. He is a volunteer docent for the USLHS Lightship "RELIEF" and the San Francisco Symphony and continues to be active in marine affairs and boating, spending summers aboard his boat cruising the East Coast from Florida to the Great Lakes and Canada where he checks out the lighthouses in the area whenever one is nearby.
Ralph Eshelman has over 30 years of cultural resource experience; much of it related to lighthouse preservation. Eshelman was the project director for the team which moved, renovated, and interpreted the 1883 Drum Point Lighthouse, at Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons, Maryland, between 1974 and 1977. Eshelman served as historian for several assessment teams which surveyed 31 historic lighthouses located throughout the United States for the Department of Defense, U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Land Management in 1995 and 1996.
Eshelman was co-author of "The Maritime Heritage of the United States National Historic Landmark Theme Context Study for Lighthouses," for the National Maritime Initiative of the National Park Service in 1995. The following year Eshelman authored a context theme study and multi-property National Register Nomination for 17 light stations in Maryland, as well as authored the "Maryland Lighthouse Preservation and Interpretation Plan" for the Maryland Historical Trust in 1996.
Eshelman served as historian, for the team which wrote the Historic Lighthouse Preservation Handbook, for U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense and National Park Service in 1997. During the same year he prepared three National Historic Landmark Nominations for masonry-type lighthouse towers, including Cape Hatteras Light Station, for National Maritime Initiative of the National Park Service in 1997.
Eshelman was President of the National Lighthouse Museum Steering Committee, an affiliation of lighthouse preservation societies, which worked together to create the National Lighthouse Museum in 1997. He is a founding trustee and second vice-president of the National Lighthouse Museum from 1998 to present.
Eshelman is a founding principal of Lighthouse Preservationist, LLC, a lighthouse preservation company. He also wrote the entry "Lighthouse" for The Oxford Companion To The History of Modern Science by Oxford University Press, Inc. 2002.
Tim was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of a protestant minister. When he was 18 he moved to the San Francisco Bay area where he started as a pre-med major but in his junior year to philosophy. Tim obtained his BA at the University of California, Berkeley after which he married for the first time and moved to Bloomington, Indiana. There he obtained an MA in history and philosophy science at Indiana University which was followed by the birth of his son Bram.
Tim ended up in Waukegan, Illinois where he worked as a Social Security claims representative for two years, and in 1972 received a Juris Doctorate from the law school at University of Illinois, Urbana and then moved back to the San Francisco bay area.
After working for over one year in VISTA, the name of the domestic Peace Corps at that time, Tim met his wife Madeline who he has been married to since 1975. After serving some time as an attorney in private practice, Tim obtained employment as a deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County California, and served in that position for about 30 years and residing in San Jose.
In the mid-90s, Tim and his wife Madeline took a road trip along the Oregon coast. For the first time he was able to climb in a lighthouse and to learn about some of the technology used. Moreover he was impressed by the stories about the keepers: their loyalty and courage in an often lonely job. The beauty of the buildings and towers as well as the juxtaposition they had with the sea had always been obvious to him. He came to see the lighthouse not only as a thing of beauty but as something that fit his idealism about nondiscriminatory service to his fellow humans. Tim's life had been missing a tie in to the history of science that he had long studied, and learning about the Fresnel lens and lighthouse machinery provided this connection.
Eventually Tim became a member of the US lighthouse Society, and began to collect books on lighthouses, subscribed to lighthouse magazines and joined other lighthouse organizations. In 1999 he took a solo car trip from Split Rock lighthouse on Lake Superior, around the upper Peninsula of Michigan, and down to Chicago where he saw about 20 lighthouses. After that trip, he flew to the state of Washington to see lights and then spent a week at the New Dungeness Lighthouse as a volunteer keeper. He was totally hooked!
In January 2000 Tim had an accident that left him as an incomplete paraplegic, although he retains some ability to walk and climb. Upon an examination of his life he decided view this unfortunate situation as a "glass half-full" and became determined to focus on what he could do and forget the rest. Tim developed an urgent need to travel as soon as possible, as this was something he thought he could still do. In May of that year, he and his wife took a cruise from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia, and in true Lighthouse Society spirit asked the Purser's office to inquire of the bridge when we might be passing lighthouses. The ship's crew was kind enough to provide that information so that he could be on deck to see and photograph the lights. One night during the cruise, he got out of bed at about 2 am and is proud to report that he went on deck in his pajamas and robe to see the flashing light of a lighthouse.
In 2001 Tim learned of a need for docents at Pigeon Point Light Station some 50 miles from his house. By this time his recovery was as complete as it was going to be. Fortunately, he found that he could still climb lighthouses, especially if he maintained his conditioning. So Tim embarked upon some 16 hours of training about lighthouses in general, Pigeon Point in particular, local wildlife and vegetation, and the gray whales that migrate by the point. He still regularly volunteers at the light station. In 2003, Tim travelled to see the lights of the Netherlands and Belgium, the first big trip with the U.S. lighthouse Society. During this trip, Tim had the pleasure of coming to know Frans la Poutre who had created this trip on behalf of the Society and led a good part of it.
Although Tim's wife is not the big lighthouse fan in the family, she really enjoyed that trip. Since that time she has joined Tim on other Society trips to Maine, Massachusetts, Argentina, Uruguay, and Norway. In addition, he has taken solo trips with the Society to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the east coast of Florida. In 2006 Tim asked, and agreed to be appointed to the board of directors of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.
2009, Tim has travelled to New Zealand and Australia where he was able to see several fine lights. Upon his return he and Madeline joined the U.S. Lighthouse Society's lighthouse trip along the US Gulf Coast. Finally, for his anniversary celebration, he stayed at the old keeper's quarters at the very lovely Pt. Cabrillo Light Station in Mendocino, California.