Meet New England Mariner Sue Reynolds

This seasoned New England mariner whose handsomely etched face bears testament to a lifetime spent on open waters is Capt. Sue Reynolds, sailor and educator. She has been navigating our gray Atlantic since childhood. The White Island Lighthouse was raised 200 years ago from “rubblestone” and has been guiding mariners around the Isles of Shoals ever since. Some 20 years ago, the Lighthouse Kids arose from one of Capt. Reynold’s civics classes to help save it. Now, she and these children raise the funds necessary to keep this important New Hampshire landmark beaming.

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Photo by David Mendelsohn

  • As a child, summers were spent living and slowly constructing the family cottage in Hampton. Often, I was my father’s helper, learning the value of tools to accomplish tasks that initially seemed impossible.
  • All aspects of the ocean fascinate me; however, I’d rather be on the water than in the water.
  • Sailing was the perfect leisure activity to apply my knowledge of physics and problem solving, to experience independence and become self-reliant.
  • Over the years, I have taught sailing, raced and cruised the Atlantic from the Bahamas to the Bay of Fundy.
  • I was a public-school educator for 40 years with 38 years spent in North Hampton … applying knowledge learned in the classroom to real-life situations.
  • While conducting a beach clean-up at North Hampton State Beach, I pointed out the lighthouse in dire need of repair and suggested that, as part of our seacoast service learning, we could try to raise public awareness to the plight of White Island Light.
  • For [one of my] civics lessons, a local state legislator was guest speaker.  At the end of his talk, he asked students what he could do for them. One astute student said, “You can help us save a lighthouse.”
  • After a visit to the Portsmouth Athenaeum, “Lighthouse Kids” was officially named!
  • In 2003, while two Lighthouse Kids were speaking before the NH House of Representatives, the question was asked, ‘Why is it important to save White Island Lighthouse?’  The unscripted student response was, ‘The lighthouse is an important part of New Hampshire’s history and the only offshore lighthouse. The tower is in danger of falling down.  It’s like the Old Man of the Mountain. What would you do if that fell down?’ (And ironically, the Old Man did fall three months later.)
  • On my teaching retirement day, June 16, 2006, NBC Nightly News, “Making a Difference” with Brian Williams, featured Lighthouse Kids!
  • For 20 years, Lighthouse Kids’ efforts have helped raise awareness and funds to maintain White Island Light.


Lighthouse Kids Motto: “Let the Light Live On!”

Official keepers lived on White Island until 1986, when the lighthouse was automated. The US Coast Guard continues to maintain the light as an aide to navigation; however, the USCG is not responsible for maintaining historic structures. The Lighthouse Kids board of directors, in 2004-2005, created the LobStar fundraiser, which quickly grew into a community project with reach beyond North Hampton. Parents, Lighthouse Kids, students and teachers from neighboring schools, community members, local businesses, Hampton Rotary and lots more all worked together to create artistic LobStars that were sponsored, then auctioned off at a dinner under the canvas tent at Odiorne Point. The project raised over $188,000. Officially, Lighthouse Kids has had a memorandum of agreement with the State of New Hampshire (owner of White Island) since September 2003. The most recent Lighthouse Kids’ fundraiser, June 15, 2021, was Rye Elementary School’s Annual Walkathon. To help with maintenance and repairs, more than $5,000 was raised by third- and fourth-graders. Visit to help out.

Categories: People