Dove’s light still shining

One can build a lighthouse with brick and mortar, with wood and nails, glass and paint.
Or with people like Barry Dove.

The keepers of the New Dungeness Light Station, along with friends, family and co-workers of the 55-year-old are mourning the loss this week of the former manager and longtime volunteer of the lighthouse association.

Dove died of cancer on March 14.

Hailing from South Africa, Dove followed his family to the Olympic Peninsula in the late 1970s and worked in the circulation departments for local newspapers.

Saved the lighthouse

More than 15 years ago, he began volunteering to maintain, preserve and promote the New Dungeness Light Station, the lighthouse near the tip of the Dungeness Spit.

David Hannon, who worked with Dove at the Sequim Gazette from 1992-2000, said he and Dove were close.

“We had a lot of things in common, our views of the world,” Hannon said. “We got to be good friends.”

Dove leaves behind his wife, Belinda, daughter Xisa, brothers Roy and Patrick and his mother, Pat.

“It’s tough because he’s the one who does all the stuff for me,” Pat Dove said.

Barry Dove oversees maintenance to the New Dungeness Lighthouse Station in 2007. Sequim Gazette photo by Patricia Morrison Coate

“We’re coping. He’s got lots of cousins (visiting) from Australia, South Africa, Scotland.
They’re all phoning (with) so much family support. I’m so grateful for that.”

A memorial service for Barry will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 21st at Sequim Community Church, 950 N. 5th Avenue, Sequim, WA.

An adventurer from the start
Dove grew up in South Africa with his brothers and always was an adventurous, energetic child, his mother said.

“(His father would) put the kids in the trailer and go out to Mozambique in July … and, when he was 4 years old, we took a boat into Belgian Congo and into the heart of Uganda,” Pat said. “All this adventure, he thought this was great. They had a wonderful childhood. South Africa has a wonderful climate. He always missed that sunshine.”

He worked for the South African army for a time before his family moved to the peninsula in the mid-1970s and he joined them in 1978.

Dove worked for the Peninsula Daily News and then the Sequim Gazette, joining the Sequim weekly as circulation manager in 1991.

“We would go to Sunshine Café (and) chit-chat over coffee,” Hannon said. “We became fast friends.”

80,000 visitors
In 1994, a year after the lighthouse was added to National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. Coast Guard withdrew its last keeper of the New Dungeness Light Station and plans were made to board up the buildings.

That year, a group of community members formed the New Dungeness Light Station Association, with the intent to preserve the station.

The Doves joined the group from the start. He drove guests to and from the lighthouse, scheduled keeper visits and even assisted in some rescue operations when sailboats got stuck on the spit.

Since 1994, keepers have greeted an estimated 80,000 visitors.

Dove became general manager of the New Dungeness Lighthouse Association in 2006, although Steve Reed, the light station association’s board president, said he was practically doing the job years before that.

“He inspired people so much, we wanted to work for him,” Reed recalled. “If we would have let him, he would have done everything,” Reed said.

“He was absolutely in love with that place.”

Johan Van Nimwegen, board president from 2005-2008, said Dove was the first person the association hired. Before then, the group was run entirely by volunteers.

“He was absolutely dedicated … way beyond the call of duty,” Van Nimwegen said, remembering the projects he and Dove worked on: major electrical improvements to the station, installing a Web cam, the station’s 150-year celebration in 2007.

“Definitely a loss (for) the community,” he said.

Illness came unexpectedly
Last spring, Hannon recalled, Dove had plenty of vigor until he dropped something on his toe. When the pain didn’t go away, he went in for tests.

Those tests showed spots in his lungs, a large, cancerous lump in a kidney and eventually cancer-related problems with his foot and spine.

“His body’s gotten so tired,” Hannon said a couple of days before Dove died. “He appears to be at peace and in no pain.

“My perspective was, he was in pretty good spirits. At times he’d get angry … (but) he accepted it.”

Honoring the keeper
Friends and fellow volunteers for the New Dungeness Lighthouse Station Association are honoring Dove with not just one but two memorials.

One is an interpretive trail that was one of Dove’s projects before he fell ill.

In February, the group got a surprise donation of funds and decided to use them to build the trail near the lighthouse. The plan is to construct a path with weatherproof signs, pictures and descriptions of the historical buildings, cisterns, antennae and other landmarks.

The second is a plaque or marker next to the topmost window in the lighthouse tower, Hannon said.

Belinda Dove said that Barry's wishes were that those wishing to honor him may donate funds to Hospice of Clallam County (see

Learn more about lighthouse
Betty Leffle, a local authority on the New Dungeness Light Station, presents a talk about it from 10 a.m.-noon Friday, March 19, at the Old Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road, Sequim.
The talk explores the history of one of the oldest lighthouses in the Northwest, first lit in 1857. Prices are $10 to nonmembers and $8 for Museum and Arts Center members. Call 681-2257.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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