Verna Rundlett, 76, best known in lighthouse circles as the “Nubble Light Lady,” died recently of complications from pneumonia.
We have known Verna and her husband Henry for many years, but became heavily acquainted with Verna when Lighthouse Digest first started publication.
She was every group or community’s dream, a person who worked endlessly to make everything around her better, and she never once asked for or expected a word of thanks.
It was under her direct leadership that the Sohier Park Welcome Center with gift shop and public facilities were built at Maine’s famous Cape Neddick Light Station in York, Maine, which is more commonly known as Nubble Light. Proceeds from sales at the gift shop go toward maintaining the park and the lighthouse.
She coordinated the all-volunteer staff at the gift shop and many times you would see her there staffing the shop when no others could be found. She hunted high and low for unique products for the shop and made sure that most of the items related to Nubble Light or were specially made under her direction for Nubble Lighthouse.
Back in 1979, to celebrate Nubble Light’s 100th birthday, she started the Christmas in July event at the lighthouse to show the summer tourists what Christmas was like at the lighthouse. Under her leadership the July event and the actual Christmastime event grew to be successful beyond her belief and each year they are attended by people from all over the nation. Both events will be her legacy to the future generations.
Not only was she heavily involved in saving Nubble Lighthouse, she was involved in many other projects in the community from saving historic buildings to ball parks and volunteering wherever it was needed. She was honored with the York Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, was named the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year in 1994-95 and was a recipient of the Humanitarian Award for Volunteer Services bestowed upon her by the American Legion. You could also be assured that if there was anything controversial going on or something that she firmly believed in, she would be at the town meetings to let her views be known. She was usually right and usually won those battles.
She told me recently that she had one thing that she had not yet accomplished, which was the building of a replica of the old fog bell tower that once stood at Nubble Light. Hopefully that will be accomplished in the future.
In keeping with her wishes she was cremated and her ashes were dispersed among the ocean winds offshore of the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse.
Although her shining light is gone from among us, she has left us a legacy that will be with us forever.
The next time you visit Sohier Park and Nubble Light take a moment to look around you and remember that this beautifully maintained lighthouse, wonderful park and welcome center are all there for future generations to enjoy largely due to one woman’s efforts, Verna Rundlett.
This story appeared in the
June 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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