Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2011

The Passing of Shirley Morong

Shirley Morong Dies at 103

By Timothy Harrison

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Shirley Moring at her 100th birthday party at ...
Photo by: John Popp

We are saddened to report on the passing of lighthouse historian and friend Shirley (Shepard) Morong who died on September 1, 2011, in St. Albans, Vermont.

When Shirley married Clifton S. Morong, she married into the famous family of lighthouse keepers who kept the lights, mostly along the coast of Maine. This included Frederic W. Morong (1842-1920) who served at a number of Maine lighthouse including Little River, Petit Manan, Libby Island, and Lubec Channel. Two of his sons, Alonzo and Frederic Jr., also served in the Lighthouse Service. Alonzo served as a lighthouse keeper at Goose Rocks, Petit Manan, Cape Elizabeth Two Lights, Seguin, and Browns Head lighthouses in Maine, and Frederick Morong Jr., who became a keeper at Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse went on to become a machinist with the U.S. Lighthouse Service in the First Lighthouse District, and later served as a District Inspector.

It was Alonzo’s son, Clifton, who married Shirley in 1934. The couple served as lighthouse keeper’s at Race Point Lighthouse in Massachusetts and at Perkins Island, Fort Popham, Portland Head, and Cape Elizabeth Two Lights.

Shirley’s and Clifton’s son, Robert Morong, followed in the family footsteps and joined the Coast Guard. In 1973 Robert Morong took command of the Rockland Coast Guard Station, relieving Ken Black, “Mr. Lighthouse,” when Black retired. It was in Rockland where Black established the First District Marine Exhibit that is now the Maine Lighthouse Museum. Robert Morong died in 1995.

Shirley Morong was an accomplished writer who, over the years shared many stories and photographs with me that were published in Lighthouse Digest and used in various books that I authored, such as Portland Head Light, A Pictorial Journey Through Time and Lighthouses of the Sunrise County. Before submitting stories to Lighthouse Digest, for many years she wrote a column in the National Fisherman as well as the Quoddy Tides newspaper in Lubec, Maine.

I always looked forward to receiving letters from her. In a stack of mail, hers would always be the first one I opened. I always knew she would have another interesting story to share or a memory recalled. She was the last person to still correspond with me using an old manual typewriter.

With the passing of Shirley Morong, another era in lighthouse history has come to a close. Lighthouse aficionados, historians, and preservationists everywhere owe her a debt of gratitude.

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2011 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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