Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society

Wickie Award

About the Award

wickie award challenge coin
Award challenge coin

Early lighthouse keepers were often given the nickname “Wickie” for their job trimming the wicks keeping the light burning strong in the lighthouse.  This award recognizes one individual each year for the significant role they have played in helping Rock of Ages LPS to accomplish its mission of preservation and restoration, keeping the Rock of Ages Light strong.

The Board of Directors selects one individual within the organization who has made a significant contribution to the success of Rock of Ages LPS for two or more years.  This contribution may be through volunteerism, leadership within the organization, and/or financial support. Wickie Award recipients are recognized at the Fall Gathering and given a special challenge coin.

2023 Wickie Award Recipient: Dirk Gunder

Dirk Gunder is recognized for his volunteerism and leadership within Rock of Ages LPS. Dirk is a restoration crew leader at Rock of Ages Lighthouse and has volunteered at Rock of Ages Lighthouse as our “master of plaster” since 2019, giving 7 weeks of his time in total. Nearly all of the walls and ceilings in the tower have been painstakingly plastered by hand by Dirk and helpers under his direction. He also serves on the organization’s Risk Management Committee. He and his wife Sharon also donate generously each year to the organization.

2022 Wickie Award Recipient: Steven Lein

Steven Lein is recognized for his volunteerism and leadership within Rock of Ages LPS. Steve is a restoration crew leader at Rock of Ages Lighthouse and has volunteered at Rock of Ages Lighthouse since 2018. Steve designed and constructed the steambox and framework for bending reproduction baseboards to the proper curvature before installation within the tower. He has led several other projects within the tower as well such as installing the solar power system. Steve also contributes financially to the organization each year.

2021 Wickie Award Recipients: Val and Steve Martin

Steve and Val, 2021 Wickie Award Winners wave from the dock at Windigo Harbor.
Steve and Val wave from the dock at Windigo Harbor.

Val and Steve are recognized for the leadership and supportive roles that they played very early in the inception of Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society. Val and Steve worked as National Park Service rangers at Isle Royale for more than twenty years, with most of that time spent in Windigo. In 2008 David Gerth and his brothers started Rock of Ages LPS, and Val and Steve were instrumental in encouraging David in this endeavor. For Steve and Val, the Rock of Ages Lighthouse is the welcoming beacon to Isle Royale’s west end. Early each spring, the lighthouse signaled that they were almost “home” once more. On dark summer nights, when most were sleeping, Steve would be returning across Lake Superior after transferring patients to the mainland—navigating using marine electronics. Still, for Steve, seeing the light’s distinctive flash was always appreciated company and confirmation that he was headed in the right direction, as the boat pitched and rolled with unseen waves. Steve and Val believe that the restoration work on the Rock of Ages keeps this legacy of welcome and safety alive for all visitors. Retired in 2021, Steve and Val look forward to maintaining their island connections, particularly to the park’s west end.

2020 Wickie Award Recipients: Peter Schliep and Jeff Sivertson

Peter and Jeff are recognized for the volunteerism and leadership they have contributed to Rock of Ages Lighthouse Preservation Society during the past few years. Peter and Jeff are both members of the Barnum/Washington Island community where Rock of Ages LPS stages volunteers and supplies bound for the lighthouse. Peter and Jeff were boat drivers from 2018-2021, shuttling volunteers between Rock of Ages Lighthouse, Windigo, and Barnum Island. Many volunteers also benefited from their kind hospitality and knowledge of the history of the Washington Harbor. They also helped to direct and lead Rock of Ages LPS volunteers in restoration projects back on Barnum and Washington Island, and these experiences helping to restore the historic boathouses, fishouses, and cabins of Barnum and Washington Islands enriched the volunteer experience.

2019 Wickie Award Recipient: Katie Foley

Kate Foley
Katie Foley (on the left) at Windigo Harbor

Katie Foley is recognized for her significant financial contributions to Rock of Ages LPS. These generous donations have funded the purchase of materials and supplies for lighthouse restoration over the last two years. Katie was inspired to donate because of her own connection to Isle Royale and the enthusiasm and dedication of others to Rock of Ages LPS. Katie first discovered the magic of Isle Royale in 1971 when she backpacked the Rock Harbor side of the Island. Since then she has visited Isle Royale several more times and has hiked almost all of the trails. Her favorite place is Rainbow Cove and Feldmann Ridge. Katie can’t wait to get back to Isle Royale and is excited to be able to give back to the place she loves by supporting the restoration of Rock of Ages Lighthouse.