The American Lighthouse Foundation honored Judy Klement as a recipient of the “Keeper of the Light” award during the organization’s annual Lighthouse Gala, which was held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport on May 15, 2016.
ALF’s “Keeper of the Light” award honors those individuals in the national lighthouse community who have contributed in a significant manner to the preservation of America’s lighthouses and their rich heritage.
Judy Klement, a resident of Savannah, Georgia, contacted FOWIL last year with a “To Whom It May Concern” letter asking to talk to someone about a possible donation toward the restoration of our lighthouse. FOWIL chairman Brad Coupe called her and learned that, for generations, Judy’s family had owned a summer home in Saco. She had visited Wood Island Lighthouse as a child some decades ago and more recently she had taken one of our scheduled tours to the island. Now, she was eager to help with the restoration effort.
From that seemingly innocuous letter, came the largest single gift FOWIL has ever received. After talking with Judy about various projects, she expressed interest in funding nearly all, of the restoration of the Keepers House interior, estimated to cost $218,000. Judy quickly sent us two $25,000 donations last summer to cover the 2015 season’s work. With that infusion, the J. B. Leslie Company crew worked into early January. In March another $50,000 arrived and just last week, a final donation of $100,000 was received, thereby ensuring that the interior project will be completed before the summer is out.
Judy’s avid interest in the restoration of historic buildings and the happy coincidence of her early exposure to our lighthouse brought us very good fortune. More than that, however, Judy’s enthusiasm for the work and the volunteers of FOWIL has been especially gratifying. She has become a genuine friend to us all visiting the island whenever she is here and corresponding regularly from her Savannah home to keep tabs on all that we are doing. Through her eyes, we have gained a new appreciation for the worth of our efforts and the importance of preserving lighthouses. We are inspired by her extraordinary philanthropy and friendship. Judy Klement is a “Keeper of the Light” in the broadest and truest sense of the phrase.