Portrait of Maine Lighthouse Museum Founder Presented by Connecticut Family
Photo by Ann-Marie Trapani
The late Ken Black, founder of the Maine Lighthouse Museum, was well respected and admired in the Midcoast region of Maine where he resided, but his fame as an honored Coastguardsman and lighthouse preservationist, as well as his genuine friendly personality, extended well beyond the borders of the Pine Tree State.
Black, who passed away in January 2007, is known affectionately as "Mr. Lighthouse" and touched the lives of countless thousands of lighthouse aficionados in a very meaningful and permanent manner. In many ways, Black was beloved for who he was as much as what he accomplished in the community.
One such family that was enriched by a friendship with Ken Black was the Foster family from Groton, Connecticut.
Ron and Mary Jane Foster, and their granddaughter Lexis, were so touched by their good fortune of befriending Black, that they recently made a trip from Connecticut to Rockland, Maine where there Maine Lighthouse Museum is located, to present Ken's widow, Dot Black, with a gorgeous 24" x 36" framed portrait of "Mr. Lighthouse" which Ron Foster took at the Museum a year and a half ago.
"I looked upon Ken not only as a friend, but the man without whom much of our historic lighthouse artifacts and their history would have been lost," said Ron Foster. "Ken was the most knowledgeable individual I ever knew when it came to lighthouses, the Coast Guard and ships."
Foster went on to say, "Ken was never one to pat himself on the back for his many accomplishments and was always willing to share his knowledge with all who took an interest. His love of and dedication to the preservation of our lighthouse heritage is second to none."
Ron's wife Mary Jane echoed her husband's sentiments, recalling the first time she met Ken at an American Lighthouse Foundation event on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, "I feel honored to have known him and to become friends, as he was such a gentle, kind man."
The Foster's 12 year-old granddaughter Lexis also has fond memories of "Mr. Lighthouse" from when she visited the old Shore Village Museum (before it moved to the waterfront and became the Maine Lighthouse Museum). She recalled, "Ken took the extra time to explain the lighting apparatus and show his large collection of Fresnel lenses to all the members on the New England Lighthouse Lovers trip I was on a few years ago."
Lexis went on to say, "I was also truly honored to have been able to press the button with Ken that relit Connecticut's Avery Point Lighthouse - my personal favorite, in front of a large gathering back in October 2006."
The Ken Black portrait donated by the Foster family is now mounted in the Maine Lighthouse Museum's "Liberty Room," which serves as a board and conference room for the Museum and many community groups.
Ron Foster summed up the family's donation, saying, "I love the picture of Ken that my wife Mary Jane and I donated to the Museum. It was taken in June 2006 when he was being honored at the opening of the Maine Lighthouse Museum where his collection would be cared for and available for the public to enjoy and learn from. I believe Ken was thrilled with the fact that his collection had found a permanent home, and that so many people were there with him to experience this historic day. Ken will always be a 'special' person to me. I feel honored that this image of Ken will be displayed for all to see and remember such a neighborly gentleman."
Dot Black, widow of Ken Black, recalls, "Ken was so very happy and proud that day. Ken's dream of seeing his Museum on the waterfront had finally come true. Ron's picture is now hanging in the "Liberty Room" to remind everyone of Ken Black's "can do" attitude and modest professionalism. Ironically he now certainly has the fame as founder of the Maine Lighthouse Museum that he never sought for himself throughout his life - and he deserves it."