Thomas Point LIghthouse, MD, photo by Donna Suchomelly
When Donna Suchomelly fell in love with lighthouses, she fell head over heels. She says her love for them grew from being a casual observer to a growing curiosity, followed by an obsession.
It all started when Donna and her family kept “running into” lighthouses on their vacations. During a dark period in her life, the lighthouse’s guiding light symbolized safe harbor to her. She started to read about them and study their history, and as she did, she realized how important it was to preserve them.
She joined the United States Lighthouse Society (USLHS) so she could get copies of their magazine, The Keeper’s Log. At the same time, her husband Jeff got the “lighthouse bug” and they began to plan their vacations around seeing them.
When she read about a new group called the World Lighthouse Society, an international organization for the preservation of lighthouses, she joined it, excited to receive the “Lighthouse Encyclopaedia” CD-Rom they gave to members. Within a year, Donna became their newsletter editor and has held that position since 2004.
Donna and Jeff decided it was time to help lighthouses in their own country as well, so they joined the Chesapeake Chapter of the USLHS and started volunteering for their Lighthouse Challenge. They also joined their hands-on lighthouse preservation work crews.
When asked which lighthouse is her favorite, she usually says “the last one I visited,” because she loves them all. However, two are very close to her heart: Turkey Point and Thomas Point Shoal, both in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.
Many years ago she and her husband stumbled upon Turkey Point while camping nearby. When they first saw it, it was almost hidden by trees and vegetation and looked very deserted and unloved. Over the years, they’ve been delighted to see it restored and become a popular tourist attraction.