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Kenrick A.Claflin & Son

11275. (photo) Keeper Frank Schubert, Coney Island Lighthouse c.1991.

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11275. (photo) Keeper Frank Schubert, Coney Island Lighthouse c.1991.

11275. (photo) Keeper Frank Schubert, Coney Island Lighthouse c.1991. Color photo 8” x 10” shows Keeper Schubert, last civilian keeper at Coney Island Light Station. The last civilian keeper at Coney Island Lighthouse was Frank Schubert, who began his lighthouse career in 1938 aboard the buoy tender Tulip. He followed that with time at the offshore Old Orchard Lighthouse, and then was assigned to the Army Transportation Service during World War II. After the war, he served as the keeper of three lights at Governors Island. While stationed there, his wife, Marie, and their three children lived on Staten Island. In 1960, Schubert accepted an assignment to the Coney Island Light as his family would finally be able to live with him at the station to which he was assigned. When interviewed by New York Times reporter, Mrs. Shubert explained “We’ve gone from one extreme to another. We never used to see Frank. Now he never leaves home.” Keeper Shubert’s duties included tending the light and the 1,000-pound fog bell. When he could no longer see Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, he would turn the bell on. In an emergency, or if the power went out, Schubert said that the fog bell could be hit “with a sledgehammer.” Schubert’s wife passed away in the late 1980s. When the station was automated in 1989, he was allowed to stay on as a caretaker, continuing to climb the 87 steps to the lantern every day to perform required maintenance duties. During his years of service, Shubert was credited with saving the lives of fifteen sailors and was invited for a visit to the White House by President George H. W. Bush. He and his dog, Blazer, remained on duty until December 11 of 2003, when Schubert passed away at the age of 88 as the last of the Coast Guard’s civilian lighthouse keepers. His lighthouse career had lasted 65 years, including the final 43 years at Coney Island Lighthouse. “The Coast Guard mourns the loss of its most courageous sentry of the sea,” said Capt. Craig T. Bone, commander of Coast Guard Activities New York. “His devotion to duty and courage are unequaled.” Wonderful photo by Marvin E. Newman. $22.