Two Coupeville residents have received statewide recognition for their efforts at Fort Casey Historical Park.
Cheri and David Anderson are Washington State Parks 2019 volunteers of the year.
“They have been instrumental in helping to keep our docent program running smooth,” said Sharon Young Hale, a program specialist, and the Andersons’ boss, in a statement.
The Andersons are both docents at the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, and David is also a member of the Fort Casey Volunteer Battalion. Cheri said she saw an article in the newspaper about the park’s need for docents, or hosts, who share the lighthouse’s century-old history with visitors.
The couple moved to Whidbey Island from California eight years ago and began volunteering at the park six years ago. Cheri taught students with severe disabilities, and David worked as a fireman and paramedic before moving to Coupeville.
“I don’t even miss it anymore,” David Anderson said of Washington’s southern neighbor.
One of the big projects the Andersons were involved in last year was the repainting of Battery Worth, along with numerous other volunteers.
“If I never see another can of tricorn black, that’ll be fine,” Cheri Anderson said.
Now, the couple is busy with replacing the white picket fence and replanting shrubs that surround the newly renovated Admiralty Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse went through a million-dollar renovation for several months that was completed in July.
The facelift included new plaster, fixed cracks and a new paint job.
Sadly, lighthouse tours are restricted because of COVID-19 concerns and the public is allowed inside only on weekends. Tours are a major part of a docent’s duties at the lighthouse, and Cheri knew just about every nook and cranny of the place. She explained that docents are allowed to talk to the public outside of the iconic structure but aren’t allowed to go inside with them in an effort to maintain social distancing.
One of her favorite parts of the lighthouse to show off is the basement because of how dry and well-preserved the room is. It’s not normally on the tour schedule, but she made an exception.
“You just stop to think about how many hands have touched this post in 117 years. The stories are just mind-boggling,” she said on her way up the narrow staircase.
A memorable moment for David was the time someone called him to assist a woman who had fallen down a ladder at the fort. The woman was carrying a two-month-old baby in her arms at the time but rolled so she landed on her back. The baby was fine, but unfortunately for mom, her foot was caught on one of the rungs. She had an open fracture.
“They called the right guy,” David Anderson said, referring to his experience as a paramedic.
Combined, the couple estimated they have spent 200-300 hours a year volunteering at the park.
Although Cheri loves the lighthouse, it’s more about the people she volunteers with that keeps her coming back, she said.