Meet Jim Woodward who is a lampist. A what, you ask?

Four decades and about 200 lighthouse lens restorations later, Jim Woodward of Green Valley is retired but happily on call.

As one of three U.S. Coast Guard lampists that he is aware of, Woodward, 69, is qualified to disassemble, repair, restore and reassemble complicated lighthouse lenses known as Fresnel or classical lighthouse lenses. Of the three, he is the only one who trained and apprenticed under a lampist in the Lighthouse Service, which merged with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939.
His fascination began at age 8 when he studied shipping on the Great Lakes. “One story hooked me. I was a nut on history, not lighthouses,” he said.
In school, Woodward would slip a book on his favorite subject inside a textbook and pretend to be paying attention to a lesson when he was really engrossed in what led to his life’s work.
He joined the U.S. Coast Guard at age 19, served 40 years, and recalls the awakening of his fascination with lighthouses while working at the Coast Guard’s Civil Engineering Office in Cleveland in 1965.
A shipment of several cartons arrived for his superior, Arthur Meinholt. Inside were broken prisms from a lighthouse in Lorain Harbor, Ohio.
“He wouldn’t let me help him. There was no manual. But he let me watch. I kept pestering him; finally he gave in,” Woodward recalled.
Immediately fascinated, he got involved in a lens apprentice program and learned how to take prisms apart, clean, repair, restore and reinstall them.
“I used to visit every lighthouse on the Great Lakes every year for 20 years. Lighthouse preservation and restoration was my specialty. The first time I saw a lens, I’d introduce myself to the lens and study it. That could take a day,” Woodward said seriously.

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Comments
No. 1-4
jean
jean

@JamieP I'd suggest contacting the Coast Guard! Go for it!

JamieP
JamieP

I didn't even realize this profession existed... How can I become a lampist??

alexnesbitt
alexnesbitt

@brigitte-perreault Exactly, you never know what you are going to find along the way!

brigitte-perreault
brigitte-perreault

what a lovely story! we never know what will trigger a lifelong passion or even a career!

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