Skip to comments.He kept sailors, ships safe (Last civilian lighthouse keeper dies at age 88)
Posted on 12/13/2003 8:49:25 AM PST by Between the Lines
Last civilian lighthouse keeper had job 43 years.
NEW YORK - The last living vestige of a bygone era is gone: A Brooklyn lighthouse keeper, who stood watch over New York's gateway to the Atlantic Ocean for 43 years, has died.
Frank Schubert, 88, was the last of the Coast Guard's civilian lighthouse keepers in the United States, said Petty Officer Mike Hvozda. He died Thursday of natural causes at his cottage beneath the 113-year-old lighthouse on Brooklyn's Coney Island.
Schubert's work earned him many fans, including former President Bush, who invited him for a White House visit.
"The Coast Guard mourns the loss of its most courageous sentry of the sea," said Capt. Craig Bone, commander of Coast Guard Activities New York.
Night after night, year after year, Schubert ensured that the ocean traffic at the nation's busiest port found safe passage around the pointy end of Brooklyn. He was responsible for maintaining the grounds, light and fog signal at the 80-foot-tall lighthouse.
Over the course of his career, Schubert was credited with saving the lives of 15 sailors. He survived howling hurricanes and towering waves, keeping the lighthouse beacon flashing through the rain and surf.
Even after the lighthouse became automated by the late 1980s, Schubert stayed on as an ambassador of good will and a reminder of maritime history.
Schubert was first assigned to a lighthouse off his native Staten Island at age 22, when the Coast Guard took over the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1939.
Schubert was drafted and served in the Army during World War II. At the war's end, he began working at another lighthouse in New York Harbor.
It was 1960 when Schubert took the job at the Coney Island lighthouse and never left.
Since its opening in 1890, only five other men have served at the Coney Island lighthouse -- none longer than Schubert.
That is the source of my handle (with the added meaning of one who bears the Light of the Gospel for all to see.)