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


My Life on Patos Island Part Two: By Patos Bill LaVergne

Bill Tee Elaine 1953

Elaine and T Titterington with Patos Bill (right)1953

We left off on part one of my Life On Patos where I had arrived on the Island.
The longer I stayed on Patos the more I enjoyed it.
My duty shift was from midnight to eight am. Everyone else were in bed sound asleep. I went to bed at 8am.
I then got up for lunch and got busy with chores all afternoon. We did a lot of painting, building new cement sidewalks as the wood ones were pretty much ready to be retired. They sent us two CG guys from Seattle to help with gathering sand and gravel to make the cement we needed. They took buckets down to the beach area with our skiff boat and brought the gravel back up to the mixer that sat next to the tram in front of our houses. Needless to say it took quite a few trips to collect enough to make enough for a batch of cement. It was a long Summer task.

Our Island life was like living on a farm. We planted a large garden and we raised Chickens and  had a few goats also.Patos garden 1953
Summer time was also time to get some fishing time in.
We  had family and friends that would come visit as well as boaters who would come view the lighthouse. So it was always a time looked forward to by us.

One of the enjoyable things I looked forward to was our weekly runs over to Orcas Island to pick up the mail and buy groceries. That was good because we made friends there and it added to our not forgetting how to interact with people other then the 6 people on Patos.
Andy and Kathleen our Canadian light keepers across the water from us would visit in the Summer.
We would often get called out for a rescue of people who had run their batteries down ETC. One time it was a group of Navy personal that we helped get their craft running again. Did we ever love them having to ask the Coast Guard for help. I’m sure they never told anyone about that. We of course told every one about it.

Birthdays were celebrated with a dinner of the Birthday persons choice. It was just like a family get together at one of our houses.
When TV came to the islands we received a set and it sure was great for keeping up on what was going on in the world and to watch programs.
As I stated before Patos became the” Light In My Life”.
Patos Bill

Where Would We Be Without State Parks?

Volunteer Crew and Steve, ready to head out to Patos Island!

Volunteer Crew and Steve, ready to head out to Patos Island!

Well, frankly, standing on the shore of Orcas Island looking at Patos island in the distance!

We rely almost totally on the staff and boats of Sucia Island State parks to take our volunteers out to Patos Island for both work parties and Docenting the lighthouse. Over the past three years or so, our arrangement has been totally symbiotic with our volunteers providing services that State Parks employees  don’t have the staff and time to provide. As Steve Sabine, head Ranger so aptly puts it:

To Whom It May Concern,

Keepers of the Patos Light have been providing volunteer services at Patos Island State Park  since 2010. They have logged over 1600 hours since then, with the majority of the hours done in 2012. Keepers of the Patos Light is instrumental in the Park’s interpretive program, conducting Lighthouse tours for well over 1000 visitors last year. The visitors always talk highly of the volunteers and are grateful that they are there to open the lighthouse.

Patos Island State Park is a remote island, with access only by private boat. There are not many volunteers who are willing to spend an extended period to provide programs to visitors. Keepers of the Patos Light provided volunteers who stay multiple nights on the Island to provide this service. They also provided trail maintenance, security, and serviced our restrooms. Park staff can only service the Island once or twice a week, due to staff shortages, and Keepers of the Patos Light helped fill in the gaps.

I am grateful to have Keepers of the Patos Light volunteer at Patos Island State Park. They are a complement to the Park operation.

Sincerely,     Steve Sabine


San Juan Marine Area North


Thanks back to all of our wonderful State Parks friends from Keepers of the Patos Light!

In the news….

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

Where Would We Be Without Our Volunteers?

Every year we are in awe at the hard work of our Keepers of the Patos Light volunteers. From docents who open the lighthouse,to day trippers who clear the trails and clean the beaches, (among other things), we would not be able to function without them. And let us not forget members of Keepers as well. We do all of the above in addition to producing newsletters, writing grants, newspaper articles and, yes, this Blog!

Right now, we are looking for more summer Docent volunteers and KOPL Board members. Drop us a line or give us a call if you are interested.   360-468-3518

Erin, Christina and Linda at the lighthouse door

Erin, Christina and Linda at the lighthouse door

Erin, Christina and Steve (State Parks Ranger)

Erin, Christina and Steve (State Parks Ranger)


Docent Kyra and Rose welcome lighthouse visitors

Docent Kyra and Rose welcome lighthouse visitors

Docents explain a map of the area

Docents explain a map of the area

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Docents leaving for Patos Island

Docents leaving for Patos Island

Super Docent Barb talks to a visiting family

Super Docent Barb talks to a visiting family

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Leaving from Minnie's Beach, Active Cove

Leaving from Minnie’s Beach, Active Cove

Come one, come all!

Come one, come all!

New docents, Barb abd Buzz, watch porpoises off the bow of the Sea Bass.

New docents, Barb abd Buzz, watch porpoises off the bow of the Sea Bass.

Pat & Pete in their KOPL life Jackets

Pat & Pete in their KOPL life Jackets

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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


Can Lives Be Changed By a Book?

Linda and Carla together again for the first time on Patos Lighthouse tower

Can lives be changed by a book? Ours were! Fifty years ago, my childhood friend, Carla, and I read a book about a lighthouse keeper’s daughter living on a remote island with her parents and 11 brothers and sisters. The book is called “The Light On the Island” and it has changed our lives. Though we grew up in the Chicago area, Carla and I now both live on an island in Puget Sound, quite near our beloved Patos Island and its lighthouse. Four years ago we co-founded a non-profit to preserve and protect the lighthouse that we read about so long ago.

As Keepers of the Patos Light, we sponsor volunteer work trips to the island and started a docent program to help visitors in their understanding of lighthouse history. We have been contacted by all sorts of Patos old-timers and have united long lost friends. We are piecing together the history of the island and have established a lighthouse museum to hold artifacts found on Patos Island. We plan a “Light on the Island” interpretive trail for the many children (and adults) who love the book as much as we did so long ago. Most of all, we feel empowered as women and long-time friends who accomplished this dream. Neither of us knew a thing about setting up a non-profit or creating a webpage, and now we have done it…all by ourselves.


Author Helene Glidden and her book, published in 1952