Changing of the Guard: Earl & Gladys Davis Preservation Association founding members step down from the Board of Trustees
Gladys Meyer Davis and her husband Earl Davis are two of Ponce Inlet's most recognizable citizens. Near lifelong residents of Ponce Inlet, Earl and Gladys have watched their once sleepy community of Ponce Park grow from a population of less than 40 full-time residents in 1950, to more than 4,000 full-time residents and approximately 3,600 part-residents in 2014.
Born to the Ponce De Leon Inlet Light Station's First Assistant Keeper Edward Meyer on July 4, 1928, (her father would later serve as the Lighthouse's last civilian Principal Keeper, the Coast Guard's first Chief of Station, and the owner of Ponce Inlet's historic Meyer's Fish Camp), Gladys has lived the majority of her life in the shadow of the historic Lighthouse. As founding member of the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association and the longest serving member of its Board of Trustees, Gladys has a far more intimate connection to the Ponce Inlet community than any other Town resident.
Born and raised near Savannah, Georgia, Earl Davis moved to the Daytona Beach area shortly after graduating from Stetson University in 1950. He met Gladys at Meyer's Fish Camp and Grill where she helped run the family restaurant. The two hit it off almost immediately and were married at St. Mary's Church in Daytona Beach in 1955.
Although his work with Florida Power and Light required the couple to live elsewhere for a time, they maintained a house on Beach Street that had served as the Meyer family residence years earlier. Located a stone's throw from the Light Station where Gladys had been born, the Davis family raised their two daughters Julie and Ellie in the home that had originally been built by Nathaniel Hasty as a rental cottage. The Davis family continued to live in the historic dwelling until 2003, when they sold it to the Town of Ponce Inlet and relocated to a new home less than a block away. The cottage is now part of the Ponce Inlet Historical Museum.They still live within walking distance of the historic light station.
In addition to being a founding member of the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association, Gladys is also a charter member and former president and treasurer of the Ponce Inlet Women's Club. She has remained active in her church and has volunteered within the Ponce Inlet community in a number of other ways over the years. Guests visiting the Lighthouse on weekends or on nice sunny days may also be greeted by Gladys and Earl as the sit on the porch of the keeper's dwelling where she was born more than 87 years ago.
Not to be outdone, Earl has also played in important role within the local community and Preservation Association since retiring from Florida Power and Light in the mid-1980s. His participation in the Association's early efforts to preserve and restore the Light Station was invaluable. Although 91 years old and no longer as spry as he once was, Earl remains one of Ponce Inlet's most active volunteers. In addition to contributing hundreds of hours to the Lighthouse every year, Earl also serves as one of the Town's most knowledgeable historians. When they aren't volunteering at the Lighthouse, Earl and Gladys can often be found helping people in need.
With a combined service of more than 70 years as members of the Board of Trustees, Earl and Gladys have dedicated their lives to the ongoing restoration, preservation, and rehabilitation of the Ponce Inlet Light Station. As a result of their and others' hard work, the once abandoned and rundown Ponce De Leon Inlet Light Station now stands as one of the largest, most complete, and best preserved historic lighthouse facilities in the country. In 1998, the Light Station was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Concerned with their inability to continue performing the responsibilities assigned to them as members of the Board of Trustees due to health concerns, Earl and Gladys announced their intent to step down from their long held positions this past April. Although saddened by their decision, we cannot help feeling a sense of appreciation, respect, and understanding for their choice to do so.
In recognition of their long years of service to the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to honor Earl's and Gladys' years of selfless service by bestowing them the honorary titles of Trustees Emeriti for life during the April, 2016 monthly Board Meeting. While no longer serving as voting members of the Preservation Association's Board of Trustees, the impact and influence of Earl's and Gladys' years of hard work can be seen in nearly every facet of the organization's past achievements.
Thanks for all you have done Earl and Gladys. Although your role in ensuring the Preservation Association continues its ongoing mission to preserve and disseminate the maritime and social history of the Ponce De Leon Inlet Light Station may have changed, your continued guidance will help ensure that the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse will continue to shine for this and future generations to come.