A Light for History

A Light for History

Reda DeYoung is a part of the History Department office team and her work space hints at her intrepid spirit.  An inspirational quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that Reda has posted states, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  She takes on projects such as running the History Department website and, as we recently learned, vacationing as a lighthouse keeper. 

Reda explains, “We heard about the program while camping with friends last year in Traverse City.  A number of lighthouses in Michigan have lighthouse keeper programs.  Grand Traverse Lighthouse (built in 1852) has had a lighthouse keeper program for a number of years.  A couple of years ago, they started a winter keepers program.” 

In the summer the keepers work in the lighthouse museum and gift shop, and perform maintenance task such as yard work.  In the winter, the museum and gift shop are closed and keepers concentrate on projects such as painting, moving exhibits, and snow removal. 

Reda and her husband, Blair, and friends underwent an extensive process to become lighthouse keepers.  The process included becoming a member of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, filling out an keeper application, writing a letter stating why they wanted to be lighthouse keepers, along with two letters of recommendation, their work history and a resumé.  There was also a telephone interview. 

Staying in the assistant lighthouse keeper’s side of the lighthouse, which was fully furnished, Reda with her husband and friends took on jobs including snow clearing and work in the gift shop.  They also painted a wall, tore down another wall separating two rooms, investigated a wall thought to have water damage, and helped with new inventory that arrived while during their stay. 

For more information about this program, see

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Page last modified June 15, 2016