Board of Directors

Wayne Wheeler


A 1962 graduate of Syracuse University, Wayne Wheeler is a retired Coast Guard officer, having spent 23 years in the Coast Guard in the aids to navigation field serving on ships, district offices and headquarters. While at Coast Guard Headquarters he helped write the National Navigation Plan with members of the other Armed Services. At one point in his career he was Chief of Aids to Navigation for Northern California. "In 1984 Wayne founded the U. S. Lighthouse Society, a national nonprofit society founded on history and education with a stress on preservation. The Society publishes a quarterly magazine (The Keeper's Log) and Bulletin, maintains a comprehensive library, owns and is restoring two lighthouses and has restored a former Coast Guard lightship. Over the years he has been a... read more
Henry Gonzalez

Vice President

Mr. Gonzalez was the Society's Vice President for East Coast Operations from 1999 until 2006, when he assumed a broader role as the Society's sole Vice President. He served two terms as President of the Chesapeake Chapter of the Society from 1997 to 2007, is a past Secretary of the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee and was a member of the National Lighthouse Museum Steering Committee. He is the manager of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse and the Hooper Island Lighthouse, both located in the Chesapeake Bay and both obtained through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. Henry performs all of his lighthouse-related duties as a volunteer; in 2015 he retired from the federal government after a 31-year career in civil service as an engineer, project manager and senior... read more
William F. Merlin


Admiral Merlin is a native of Tampa, Florida, where he now resides after completing a thirty-four year career in the U.S. Coast Guard. During Admiral Merlin's Coast Guard career, he was assigned on Coast Guard Cutters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean, and served in several shore engineering and RDT&E billets before serving as the Twelfth District Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff in San Francisco. Assignments at Coast Guard Headquarters as Comptroller (Chief Finance Officer) and Chief of Command, Communications and Control preceded his final assignment on active duty as Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans. Following active duty, Bill established the Gulf Region of Marine Spill Response Corporation, the largest oil spill response organization in the nation.... read more
Mike Vogel


Mike Vogel was the organizer and founding president of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association, which began restoration of the city's historic 1833 lighthouse in 1985. He held that post for 22 years, leading an effort that included reinstallation of a Fresnel lens in the long-disused tower and its relighting for the opening of the U.S.-Canadian Friendship Festival in 1987; following his professional retirement in 2011 after a mandatory four-year leave from community volunteerism while he served as Editorial Page Editor for The Buffalo News, he was re-elected as president of the lighthouse association and still serves in that post. A journalist, Mike also did extensive research on the lighthouse and Buffalo's harbor history, authoring or co-authoring five books on maritime and lighthouse... read more
Brian Deans

Board Member

Brian Deans is a longtime member of the Society and a Board member since 2004. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and served in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bennington while on patrol in the Far East: Japan, Philippines and Viet Nam. He spent his business career in commercial Marine Insurance underwriting and advises on the Society's insurance. He is a volunteer docent for the USLHS Lightship "RELIEF" and the San Francisco Symphony and continues to be active in marine affairs and boating, spending summers aboard his boat cruising the East Coast from Florida to the Great Lakes and Canada where he checks out the lighthouses in the area whenever one is nearby.
Ralph Eshelman

Board Member

Ralph Eshelman has over 30 years of cultural resource experience; much of it related to lighthouse preservation. Eshelman was the project director for the team which moved, renovated, and interpreted the 1883 Drum Point Lighthouse, at Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons, Maryland, between 1974 and 1977. Eshelman served as historian for several assessment teams which surveyed 31 historic lighthouses located throughout the United States for the Department of Defense, U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Land Management in 1995 and 1996. Eshelman was co-author of "The Maritime Heritage of the United States National Historic Landmark Theme Context Study for Lighthouses," for the National Maritime Initiative of the National Park Service in 1995. The following year Eshelman authored a context theme... read more
Ken Smith

Board Member

If you ask Ken Smith how he got interested in lighthouses he will tell you, "I met a girl!" One of his first dates with wife Dede was a climb of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. He got hooked (on lighthouses and the girl). Ken currently serves as president of the Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA), which is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and protection of Florida's 30 remaining historic lighthouses. Through fundraising and two grant programs FLA helps support bricks and mortar restoration, promotion and educational programs undertaken by the various local preservation groups in Florida. He is currently working on editing an update of the late Tom Taylor's book, "Florida Lighthouse Trail" for Pineapple Press. Ken is fourth generation born in Florida with family members in the... read more

Board Member

Elinor DeWire is an author, educator, and a charter member of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.  She has been researching, photographing, lecturing, and writing about lighthouses since 1973. Elinor has published seventeen books and numerous articles about lighthouses and related maritime topics. She has been a regular contributor to the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Keeper's Log since it began publication in 1984. She writes a lighthouse blog and also contributes to several lighthouse newsletters.  In the early 1990s she developed a lighthouse unit for her elementary classroom and eventually turned it into a consumable book called The Lighthouse Activity Book for Kids.  Some of the pages, stories, and activities from the book appear under the “Education” link on this website. Elinor has received... read more