Legendary Curtis Island Light Station “Keeper” Passes Away

Legendary Curtis Island Light Station “Keeper” Passes Away
Curtis Island Lighthouse still guides mariners

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Curtis Island Lighthouse still guides mariners at sea and is a welcome sight for visitors entering Camden Harbor

For thirty years, Garrett Elliott “Connie” Conover, Jr. kept a watchful eye out over Curtis Island Light Station at the head of Camden Harbor, ensuring the light station looked its best as it guided mariners in the vicinity and welcomed waterborne visitors to one of Maine’s most spectacular and beautiful harbors.

Connie’s three decades of service, which he shared throughout with his wife Deedee, ended when he passed away at the age of 81 on October 16, 2010 following a period of failing health, but not before he exhibited for one final time the type of dedication and commitment to Curtis Island Light Station that he was known for throughout his service as caretaker.

Garrett Elliot "Connie" Conover, Jr.

(Photo courtesy of the Conover family) Garrett Elliot "Connie" Conover, Jr. was caretaker and "keeper" of Curtis Island Light Station for an amazing 30 years

During the months of March and April 2010, despite having to cope with his failing health, Connie worked tirelessly with the U.S. Coast Guard cutter TACKLE, based in Rockland, Maine, to plan a community volunteer work project that included scraping, priming and repainting the 1889 wooden keeper’s dwelling.

His commitment to the project, and the enthusiasm he exhibited throughout the planning process, epitomized Connie’s attention to detail and desire to keep a vigilant “watch” over Curtis Island Light Station regardless of life’s challenges that may have stood in his way.

Fittingly, and in keeping with the legacy of faithful lightkeepers before him, Connie stood his final “watch” on Curtis Island without fail throughout the summer.

He was able to see the Coast Guard volunteer work project he helped plan and coordinate through to completion, which was wrapped up in September 2010 by a team of volunteers from the Rockland Coast Guard units (cutter TACKLE, Station Rockland and cutter ABBIE BURGESS).

Coast Guard community volunteer project

(Photo by Nina Trapani) Connie Conover helped plan and coordinate a 2010 Coast Guard community volunteer project that included scraping, priming and repainting the wooden keeper's dwelling

Following the completion of the project, Connie himself took an evening walk with his wife Deedee and their son David around the keeper’s house for a final “inspection” of the work. The project passed Connie’s “inspection” as he took great delight in seeing the results of a community team effort.

Lightkeepers like Henry Wiley (1882-1896), Howard M. Gilley (1896-1909), Aldiverd A. Norton (1909-1919), Elmer Reed (1919-1938) and Myrick Morrison (1938-1950) spent much time keeping the light station at Curtis Island looking its best, and now we can add Connie’s name and service (1980-2010) to this illustrious list as one of the station’s most time honored keepers.

Connie’s service to Curtis Island Light Station may have ended when he crossed the bar, but his unbridled spirit, enthusiasm and love for the island and its lighthouse will shine on as an example of excellence for lighthouse preservationists and civic-minded individuals alike well into the future. Well done, “Keeper” Connie!

Connie Conover kept a faithful "watch" over Curtis Island Light Station

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Despite his failing health, Connie Conover kept a faithful "watch" over Curtis Island Light Station throughout summer 2010

 Connie Conover enjoyed a fine working relationship with the Coast Guard cutter TACKLE

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Connie Conover enjoyed a fine working relationship with the Coast Guard cutter TACKLE who maintains the navigational light at Curtis Island. Shown in this photo are members of cutter TACKLE presenting Connie and his wife Deedee with an American flag for the light station in 2007.