Ken Black dies at 82


ROCKPORT (AP) – Kenneth Black, the founder of the Maine Lighthouse Museum who was known as “Mr. Lighthouse” to lighthouse enthusiasts, died Sunday. He was 82.

Black is widely credited with being one of the founders of the lighthouse preservation movement in the United States while he was serving in the Coast Guard, said Tim Harrison, president of the American Lighthouse Foundation.

Over a span of decades, Black preserved hundreds of lighthouse lenses, foghorns and other equipment and memorabilia that were at risk of being thrown away as lighthouses became automated.

When his collection outgrew the Coast Guard base in Rockland, it was moved to the Shore Village Museum building where it was housed for more than 30 years.

Two years ago, the collection was moved into the new Maine Lighthouse Museum on the Rockland waterfront, where an exhibition hall is named in Black’s honor.

Harrison said Black knew more than anyone about the mechanics of vintage lighthouse equipment, and he went so far as to explain on film what each artifact in the collection was and how it was used.

Black was the first person to have a national newsletter about lighthouses, which ended with his personal comments and his signature statement, “Be neighborly.”

“He felt it was vital to save lighthouse artifacts to help future generations learn why lighthouses and the people who kept them played such an important role in the development of our nation into being a world leader,” Harrison said.

Black served in the Coast Guard throughout New England and the Great Lakes for 32 years until his retirement in 1973.

He died at the Penobscot Bay Medical Center Hospital in Rockport surrounded by family and friends.

Black is survived by his wife, two stepson and three grandchildren.