As politicians, veterans and citizens alike spoke in memory of their hardworking and beloved friend, it made those in the audience much more grateful.
They gathered Saturday at the Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum to unveil and celebrate the donation of a monument in memory of the museum's founder, president and keeper of 25 years - Harold 'Dick' Lawson.
The monument - a brass plaque fixed on a granite slab - featured an inlaid carving of Lawson donning his Dunkirk Lighthouse baseball cap.
OBSERVER?Photos by Mark Belcher
Top: The view at the top of the Dunkirk Lighthouse overlooks the entire Dunkirk shoreline, including NRG Energy, which donated the plaque commemorating Harold 'Dick' Lawson.
Above: Don Ryan looks at the sign he and his family donated to the museum.
"Dick's commitment to the Lighthouse was unwavering, and it is possible the City would not have a Lighthouse of this magnitude if it were not for his efforts over the years," Anthony Dolce, Mayor of Dunkirk, said.
"I believe that is what made Dick so valuable, not only to his friends here at the Lighthouse, but throughout Dunkirk." Dolce continued.
NRG Energy Power Plant, one of Dunkirk's largest employers, donated the plaque, which is nestled just inside the museum's grounds, giving credence to Dolce's statement.
Andy Goodell, Assemblymen for New York's district 150, appeared to speak. He dwelled on the magnitude of Dunkirk's gem.
"Thank God for Dick, Barb, Mike and all others who put their time in," he said. "I Thank God on behalf of all my colleagues, in honor of Dick and in honor of this incredible treasure."
He and others marveled at the treasure, as he pointed out the literal gem in the lighthouse, its reflector, was made in Paris in 1857. In that year, it was purchased for $10,000, a princely sum in today's dollar. The reflector is currently insured for over a million dollars, according to David Briska, the museum's board of directors vice president.
Goodell made one thing clear, it was Dick's dedication and determination that preserved the historical integrity of the lighthouse.
But Dick couldn't do everything without help. Don Ryan, former owner of Chadwick Bay Marina and member of the museum's board of directors, was one of Dick's go-to guys, Briska said.
"You couldn't not want to do things for him and (his wife) Barb," Don Ryan, member of the museum's board of directors, said. "He had a heart of gold."
Ryan and his family have been involved with the lighthouse for 20 years, and they recently donated a sign commemorating Dick to the Coast Guard and Navy building.
The helping spirit Dick evoked carries on today, Briska said. Exactly three years after his death, the board of directors, with help from others, have made renovations to the grounds of the lighthouse. He said Add Lumber of Dunkirk donated windows, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation provided a grant for the Maritime Building, Sherwin Williams donated paint and Chadwick Bay Construction donated time to carry out the renovations.
While some marveled his commitment, and others wondered at the lighthouse and its grounds, Dick's wife Barb Lawson simply cherished the bittersweet experience.
"It's very hard for me right now," she said. "It's like going through his funeral all over again."
As a bugler played taps, and Dunkirk's Joint Veterans Council presented its firing squad, one could make the comparison.
Dick was a navy man, and Richard Makuch, vice commander and trustee of the Joint Veterans Council, gave praise to him. Makuch said he was the first person and organization in Dunkirk to recognize Korean Conflict veterans.
"But I'm glad they did this," Barb continued. "If it wasn't for NRG, it wouldn't be possible. It makes me grateful."
Barb also said she was grateful for the temperate and sunny day, mentioning she asked Dick to make it happen the night before.
In light of the good weather Briska asked the audience to say a final thanks to Dick, and together they shouted "Thanks Dick!"