Keepers of the Patos Light Board Meeting

Here are the minutes of Keepers of the Patos Light January Board Meeting. If you’ve ever wanted to be on a Board, join ours! We have lots of fun…


Minutes – Keepers of Patos Light BLM Office   Lopez Village                     January 26th, 2015

Agenda submitted per e-mail and hard copies by Linda.

Attending: Sandy Evans, Linda Hudson, Jack Pedigo,  Per Phone: Erin Corra, Bill Lavergne

Guests: Marcia deChandendes, OJ Lougheed, Nick Teague, Ann Palmer, Gary Bergren

Meeting opened at 5:00.

New Web Page: New Web Page: Our web page consultant, Ann Palmer of Technosense Consulting, demonstrated the new and updated web-site. She gave an overview and discussed its adaptability on present and future smart devices. Questions were asked and answered. Suggestions were also made about additions and changes to the site. Nick and Sandy agreed to develop a sub-committee for the site.

Review of minutes: Jack read some highlights of the last meeting.


Treasurer Report: Since the position is open Linda gave a general run-down on our finances: $2,790.10 in our account. $800 has been paid for 2014/2015 for liability insurance. A new print run of the book Light on the Island has been published and we will purchase about 40 copies, for a total of $400, to stock in the lighthouse for the spring and summer season. Sandy agreed to look for a new Treasurer.


New Positions: We will be looking for volunteers to administer: 1) Docent programs, 2) Merchandising, 3) Fundraising. Linda will make a job description for each. Marcia will work on looking for a volunteer for the Docent Program and Nick will look for a Merchandising volunteer.


National Monument update:

* Marcia has officially been given the position as Head of the National Monument.

* Events for Patos are being planned as part of the NM program as a site visit to Patos between the BLM and Friends of the San Juans on July 24th.

* This years’ AHS volunteer vacation is set for June 15th-20th. A work party to Patos has been scheduled as a part of the vacation.

* The Schooner Zodiac wants visit Patos on the 1st or 2nd weekend in May. We may need someone to open the lighthouse. Any for-profit group visiting BLM property needs to establish a partnership with the BLM or acquire and pay for a permit.

Grant Workshop: A workshop was held on Orcas on Nov. 18-20. Keeper’s volunteers who attended the workshop included Lisa DiGiorgio, Nic O’Neil and Vice-President, Erin Corra. Erin reported on the workshop via phone. She said the group created a model proposal for KOPL asking for the “Past Perfect” cataloging program. Lighthouse Education Programs grant application deadline is

March 2nd this year and the plan is to ask for the “Past Perfect” program to catalog KOPL photographs and artifacts. (Editor’s note: Lisa Di Giorgio and Linda met with Lopez Museum Director, Mark Thompson-Klein on Friday January 30th and it was decided that “Past Perfect” may not be the way to go as far as cataloging KOPL materials, therefore, we will revisit grant opportunities with the Grants Team). .

Docent Season: Last season the lighthouse was open 49 days with 690 Docent hours. We had 980 guests. For the 2015 season, our goal is to have a Docent(s) present every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Upcoming work party season: Last season we had 10 day-long work parties and one 4 day work party. There were 59 individual work visits. We need some additional tools and have compiled a list. Sandy can borrow some tools from VOW. Motion made and seconded to purchase two utility carts. The motion passed for the BLM to purchase one and KOPL to purchase another.

Flagpole Committee Report: The total donations so far for this project is $1,230. It was proposed we install a temporary pole. First we need to draft a plan and talk to a BLM engineer and then submit a request for approval. Editor’s Note: Marcia said that the Flagpole Committee only needs to call the BLM office to start the process.


New Board Members: Motion made and seconded to nominate OJ as a board member. Motion passed.


Other Business: 

  • Guest Gary Bergen brought up the subject of having a third mooring buoy in Active Cove for Docent/Volunteer use. A separate administrative buoy was once in place and the anchor is still there. A recommendation needs to be made to State Parks to start the approval process.
  •  Marcia suggested a 2 day lighthouse appreciation weekend be held. The event would include: Lime Kiln, Cattle Point, Turn Point and Patos.
  • Bill L. has donated over 100 lighthouse related items to Patos. Some will be kept and some will be auctioned off. The proceeds will go toward the Flagpole Fund. So far, $115 has been raised in this way.
  • Marcia said Jennifer will return next summer under a grant subsidy. She will help with a seed bank program which will preserve rare/native plants in the San Juan Islands National Monument.
  • Marcia said that we have the opportunity to have Victoria back this summer to work on an Interpretive Plan for Patos Island and the Lighthouse. It was suggested that we ask for the amount of $2,500 through Lighthouse Educational Programs.


Meeting Adjourned 7:25. Next meeting in June

Jack Pedigo


Where’s the Flagpole?

Lighthouse guests often ask us, “Where’s the flagpole?” Well, we have no idea when the flag and flagpole were taken down, but my guess is that when the Coast Guard automated the light left Patos Island in the early “70s, the flagpole and flag might have gone with them.

We have some pictures of the flag flying over the lighthouse complex in the mid/late 1950s, courtesy of Coast Guard Officer-in-Charge at that time, Dale Nelson.

The flag pole in 1958

The flag pole in 1958

As many of us think that it would be appropriate to bring the flag and flagpole back to Patos Island, steps are being taken to ensure that it does. With the help of a generous $500 donation from Patos Bill LaVergne, which was given to us at last week’s birthday party, we can get started on this project.

As the first step in the plan will be getting approval from the BLM for the project, I plan to contact the folks at the Turn Point Lighthouse Society (Stuart Island), who went through the approval process for their flagpole a few years ago. Bill and I hope to involve other old Coast Guard men and their wives to get the ball rolling.

Anyone who wants to help with this project; letter writing, donations and/or research, should contact Keepers at And a BIG thank-you to Patos Bill for getting us started on this wonderful project! 🙂

Coast Guard Officer-in-Charge Dale Nelson climbed on the flagpole to take this wonderful picture of the lighthouse, late "50s.

Coast Guard Officer-in-Charge Dale Nelson climbed on the flagpole to take this wonderful picture of the lighthouse, late “50s.


In the news….

We are sure enjoying these stories,,,,video this time!

Coast Guard Men on Patos in the 40s

We are looking for relatives/descendants of these Coast Guard men; stationed at Patos Island Light Station, Washington State. The picture was taken in the late 40s.

Patos Island Light Station


“Personnel of Patos Light stand inspection before Commander Wilcox as Yeoman Burrows makes notes. Left to right: Russell Slocombe, Los Angeles; Rupert V Hagen, Long Beach, Ca; Arthur Diamond, Provo, Utah; Orville Hudson, Westport, Or; Calvin Hill, Oakland, Ca; George DeJarnatt, The Dalles, Or; and Edward Larson, Seattle. Larson is in charge of the Station.”

Dawn’s Story

Dawn, her mother and little brother in the 1950s, under a Patos Island sandstone formation

Lighthouse Kid: Patos Island in the 1950’s

When my cell phone rang in July of 2008 while I was working in my home office, I was suddenly reconnected with an island.  The island was called Patos and this phone call would change my life in a most profound way.

You see, when I was a small child I lived on Patos Island with my dad, who was a Coast Guard lighthouse keeper, my mother and my new baby brother. The call came from a friend who told me that he had found out about a new non-profit group, Keepers of the Patos Light, which had recently formed with the goal of preserving both the lighthouse andPatosIsland.

Memories came flooding back of idyllic childhood years spent on Patos Island, which is located in the far north of the San Juan Islands, off the northwest coast of Washington State.

The last time I visitedPatosIslandwas 26 years earlier with my first husband. We were on our honeymoon and camped onPatosIslandwhile touring theSan Juan Islandsin a small Boston Whaler.  The old lighthouse was in shambles and needed a fresh coat of paint, with her windows all boarded up.  The Tri-plex, which was newly built in the ‘50s to house the Coast Guard families, was falling apart; the obscured glass block entry broken and vandalized, trees and blackberries encroaching on the place. It was a sad moment for me to see it like this. 

Coast Guard Officer in Charge, Dale Nelson, and CG men, on the steps of the Old Victorian house, mid 50s

My dad, Dale Nelson, was stationed on PatosIslandin the mid 1950’s when he was in his early twenties. He fell in love with its remoteness and unbelievable beauty. Before I was born, my dad sent several letters to my mom, Darlene, describing PatosIslandto her.  On December 5, 1954 he wrote “this is really the place, it is not at all what I expected, its better then Dungeness…you’ll have to see it for your self to understand what I mean”.  Their plan was to have Mom move to the island with him eventually.  On December 24, 1954 he answered some of mom’s questions about theIsland after just finding out she was pregnant with me.  He wrote “The Island is big it takes about 4 hours to walk around it.  It’s mostly woods that have never been touched, it is really beautiful.  There is a little island right next to ours, its called Little Patos, between is a cove where we tie our boat up.  There are two other couples living here, they both have little kids about 18 to 20 months old, they are all very nice”.  He continued to let her know about the living situation, but I am sure he convinced her it was all good. 

I was born in August, 1955, and moved toPatosIslandwith my mom, though I do not remember that stay.  My dad was stationed at other lighthouses after that.  He then re-enlisted and requested to go back toPatosIslandand this time is what I have always called “the best childhood” in the world.

PatosIslandhas been in my heart forever, and thought of fondly throughout my life.  My dad loved to take pictures and we always had slide shows of Patos while growing up which has helped keep the memories alive.

PatosIslandis very remote and the only access is by boat.  We would maybe have maybe 2 – 3 visitors in the summer back in the 50’s, and whenever we did I was always there with my dad to greet and welcome them to the island, even though at the time I wasn’t even 5 years old. 

One time there was a husband and wife who visited with their Boxer dog, named Boy.  They were the nicest people and I immediately fell in love with their dog.  I couldn’t find my dad, so I greeted them at the dock.  They asked if they could see the lighthouse.  “Sure”, I said, so I led them through the woods on the wooden boardwalk, then down the long sidewalk to the lighthouse.  Still no sign of my dad, so I took them inside the lighthouse and up the tower to the big brass light on top.

The Patos Lighthouse Fresnel Lens in the mid-50s

I showed them the radio controls and 3 large generators located inside the building. Then suddenly, my dad was there.  What in the world was I doing?  I was in big trouble.  I had never seen my dad so mad at me in my life, but looking back I know he was embarrassed. Being Coast Guard man in charge of the station, not being available when guests arrived and finding his young daughter giving a tour of a government facility, oh my!  A couple of months later I received a card with a Poodle dog on it from this nice couple and their dog Boy, thanking me for their delightful tour of Patos Island and how it was the highlight of their vacation.

Life onPatosIslandthrough the eyes of a child was magical.  I would explore and find all kinds of treasures, starfish, hermit crabs, mussels, drift wood in funny shapes, special rocks that you could see through called Agates.  We had our dog Scamp who was always with me and I had Crowey, a black crow that would always show up for his daily bread.  I would call him and there he would be.  I also had a pet deer. It was a fawn; my dad said it swam across the channel to visit us on Patos.  I would feed and water the deer, he would nuzzle my neck. Deery started to get really big and he grew antlers.  Then one day he was gone.  My dad told me he swam to another island to find a mate.  Looking back today – I wonder.

Coast Guard cutter arrives on Patos Island

Occasionally, the 55 foot Coast Guard Cutter would arrive to take us to the mainland, to visit our relatives.  One time my mom had sewn a sailor’s outfit for me, in blue and white, with anchor buttons, and a matching hat.  I was very excited.  Every time I came aboard the Coast Guard cutter one of the Coast Guard men would always lead me down to the galley and given an ice cream bar from the freezer.  As I bit into the ice cream I lost my tooth that was loose.  At once all of the Coast Guard men reached into their pockets and pulled out all of their change and gave it to me, while mentioning something about the Tooth Fairy.  Boy was I happy.

Dawn on her teeter-totter

The Coast Guard men were always doing something nice for me.  On Patos they built me a swing from a huge Madrona tree, a teeter-tooter, and a sandbox, which I thought was silly, who needs a sandbox on an island?  I loved my swing and would stand on the wooden slat to see how high I could go.  I had the most incredible view in the world.

On Patos we were often visited by huge pod of Orca whales that would swim across the channel, this was quite frequent back then.  We would watch them through my dad’s binoculars and see their backs rising out of the water as water and air would “whoosh”’ out of their blowholes. My dad called them “Killer Whales” which frightened me, as I was always afraid they would get real close to the island and hurt us. 

Now, so many years later, from an unexpected phone call, I realized there was an organization taking care of this beautiful island.  I immediately contacted KOPL’s president, Linda Hudson. She told me that not only had Keepers of the Patos Light formed with the goal of restoring the lighthouse and protecting the island there was to be a Birthday Bash held in August to celebrate the Lighthouse’s 100 anniversary and to show off the complete renovation that had taken place earlier in the summer. Talk about timing.

As the charter boat approached Patos on August 24th 2008, in the worst weather of the summer, for the Lighthouse’s 100th birthday party, I was filled with mixed emotions.  I was sad because my parents were not here to share this with my husband and me, and excited for what the future would bring for this tiny island that I knew so long ago.  The Patos Lighthouse looked so lonely on the tip of Alden Point; there were no officer’s quarters, no water tower nor flagpole… nothing except the beautiful lighthouse.   Word had gotten out that I had lived on Patos as a young girl and everyone was so interested in my story. I was amazed.  The boat landed on the beach in Active Cove and we were greeted by Nick Teague, who is the BLM Manager in the San Juan Islands  He had a ton of questions for me.  As we were walking down the long sidewalk to the lighthouse, I mentioned that as a girl I would fly on my roller skates up and down this path. My mom had planted Sweet Alyssum along the edge and to this day when I smell that flower I am immediately taken back to Patos.  Nick told me that the tiny white flower still blooms there every spring, and that we certainly need to re-visit at that time.  That made me smile.

The lighthouse looked good as she did in the 1950s, and I was honored to speak to everyone that had an interest and helped restore the lighthouse. I spoke briefly about my childhood here, but most of all about the magic of the place.  Just like my dad wrote, “You’ll have to see it for your self to understand what I mean”.  I look forward to spending more time on the island and I am now very excited to be on the Board of Directors for Keepers of the Patos Light.

Dawn today, volunteering at our Keepers' booth at the Anacortes Water Festival

Let’s hear it for another 100 years for the Patos Island Lighthouse!

Dawn Alexander

Editing by Linda Lee Hudson

Keepers of the Patos Light


Patos Bill

The US Coast Guard on Patos Island

We often hear from a former resident of Patos Island, Patos Bill LaVergne. He now lives in Tacoma, Washington. Bill was stationed on Patos Island in the early “50s when he was with the US Coast Guard,

With Bill on the island at that time were Clarence “T” Titterington and his wife Elaine. All of them were in their late teens, early 20s at the time. Hard to believe, really. Did people grow up faster then? We have been interviewing the Titteringtons informally, but in 2012 we have plans to record all of these memories and scan all the pictures.

We would love to hear from other Coast Guarders (and/or families) who served on Patos Island. The US Coast Guard closed up and automated the lighthouse in the early 70s, so now is the time to find these former residents. We learn so much of the history of the island this way.

Patos Bill has sent us a wonderful Christmas card. The picture was taken last summer when we hosted a Patos Party for Bill’s 79th birthday.

Practice, practice, practice!

Ok, here is my first post. I finished 3 sessions of “WordPress” classes last night and I know that if I don’t do this right away, all will be lost. Lots to figure out; especially catagory vs menu, page vs what what that similar thing…oh, post!

Mostly, I just need to say that I am starting this blog to record all the exciting goings on with my non-profit, Keepers of the Patos Light, which was formed to preserve and protect both Patos Island and its lovely historic lighthouse. Patos Island is located five miles north or Orcas Island in Washington State’s beautiful San Juan Islands.

Through this blog, I hope to reach out to former Coast Guard men and families who lived on Patos Island before the lighthouse was decommissioned in the early “70s.

Now I will practice putting in a photograph. That’s all for today.

Over and out.

PS Photograph didn’t insert…back to the drawing board!


Tried again…I hope it works!