Digest>Archives> February 2002

Today's West Quoddy Light, a Tribute to David Jones

By Timothy Harrison


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Two lighthouse celebrities in one photo. This ...

When the tourists return to Downeast Maine and visit West Quoddy Head Light this year many of the regular visitors may recall park ranger David Jones and remember a friendly greeting from him in years past. However, first time visitors will have no idea of the family ties and years of dedication this man had to the lighthouse that is the easternmost lighthouse on the mainland of the continental United States. They may look at a special bench with his name inscribed on it and wonder who he was and why he was so special to have his name inscribed on a bench at the park. As you probably already assumed, we’re going to tell you.

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Park ranger David Jones with 10-year-old ...

Unfortunately, as is the case most of the time, the media rarely writes about all the good in people when they are alive. We seem to wait until they are no longer with us. Maybe it’s because people who live their lives doing good things really don’t want any credit, that’s just the way they are. But it is important for us to let people know what type of people they were and how much they contributed to society. David Jones was one of those “good people.”

Unfortunately, we lost David Jones last year when he died of a heart attack at only 48 years old.

David Jones was one of the quiet heroes of lighthouses. However, he was a Maine celebrity in his own right. Maine’s Governor King, in a formal ceremony, presented him with a plaque honoring his 25 years as a park ranger. On his casket at his funeral was a photo of him receiving the award from Governor King.

David transferred to West Quoddy in 1983, a place that had strong family ties to him. His great grandfather, Ephraim Johnson was the light-keeper there from 1901 to 1931, and David’s cousin and an uncle tended the light in later years. His grandparents were even married at the lighthouse. When the light station was automated he became the first non-keeper to live in the keeper’s house.

An article in the Lubec Light newspaper stated, “He was personally embarrassed if even a blade of grass was uncut at the park. David attracted new friends all day, every day, and was highly regard throughout the park service.”

Edie Anne Smith said in a eulogy at David’s funeral, “At one point, last September, when we were traipsing up the trail at West Quoddy, my son Ezra, who was 10 at the time, had a complaint and told David, ‘David, how are we ever going to get to the top if you stop and say hello to everyone?!’

“A true gift of David’s was how he welcomed every single person to his park. How many times a day do you think he said, ‘Hi, how are you today?’ And how many tourists do you think have traveled home from visiting West Quoddy Lighthouse and told folks back home, ‘We met the nicest park ranger’? It must be thousands.

“West Quoddy Lighthouse, the park, and David Jones were a threesome intertwined. One could not, and cannot survive without the other. The beacon of light will no longer be as bright. The foghorn will not be as majestically loud. That trail will not be as well kept or seem as friendly.

“One thing I loved about David—and admired for—was that while he worked at the most breathtakingly beautiful place on God’s earth—he never, for one moment, took that from granted. And while being a caretaker of that beautiful place was David’s job—we all know it was much more than that. David had a true appreciation of what God—and the Bureau of Parks and Land—put him in charge of . . . . . . . . .Our relationship with David has not died - it has just shifted to a new form. David will still be looking over West Quoddy Head Light . . . . . still being a part of our lives - and because he lived—and because we all knew him—we are better people.”

As with life there are always changes. There are now new changes at West Quoddy Light. This summer, for the first time ever, the keeper’s house will be open to the public as a Visitors Center. The center, open to the public free of charge, will feature displays exhibiting the history of the lighthouse and promote the Lubec, Maine area. The next time you visit West Quoddy Head Light and walk through the keeper’s house, stop for a moment, and pause to reflect, that this is where David Jones once lived.

This story appeared in the February 2002 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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