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Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes

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This book tells the life story of the Reverend William H. Law, a story that has never been told before.

The Reverend Law was in peril on the Great Lakes and was rescued by a U.S. Life-Saving Service Station crew. As a result of that rescue, seeing their heroic efforts first hand, Reverend Law dedicated the rest of his life to the men and women stationed at Light and Life-Saving stations throughout the United States. Whether it was bringing his "Floating Library" to stations located on the Great Lakes, regular correspondence with the crews of stations far too remote for a personal visit, or his relentless pursuit of Congress to approve a bill to provide better pay and pensions, Reverend Law became a fast friend to those serving in the Lighthouse and Life-Saving services.

"Sky Pilot" was sailors' slang for a chaplain. To the men and women he served, Reverend Law was lovingly known as "The Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes." A tale of unconquerable optimism, the story of W. H. Law's life is as much the account of the brave men and women of the Lighthouse Service and Life-Saving Service as it is the saga of a long and rewarding life in the service of others.

224 pages, Paperback

First published April 24, 2014

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About the author

John Kotzian

3 books7 followers
John Kotzian was born in Rogers City, Michigan located on the shore of Lake Huron and raised some 30 miles away in Hillman, Michigan. He is the great-great-grandson of the “Sky Pilot of the Great Lakes”, Rev. William H. Law.

His passion for the Great Lakes and its history grew from the stories handed down through both sides of his family about Rev. Law’s travels and relatives lost in the sinking of the S.S. Carl D. Bradley.

He currently resides with his wife, Kimberly, in Brooklyn, MI.

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for Phyllis Runyan.
326 reviews
July 11, 2021
I love reading anything about the great lakes. The author did a great job writing about his great-great-grandfather William H Law who was a reverend in a tiny place called Hessel in the upper peninsula of Michigan on Lake Huron. He was rescued by the Lifesaving Service Station Crew and devoted the rest of his life to supplying reading material, joy and friendship to the lifesavers, lighthouse keepers and their families and worked for years in his pursuit of Congress to provide better pay and pensions to these heroes of the Great Lakes. He also kept up correspondence with keepers of lighthouses around the US.
Profile Image for Barb.
49 reviews
May 18, 2018
I found this wonderful history jem in Cedarville, Michigan, very close to Hessell where the Rev. W. H. Law resided. This book would be of interest to anyone who loves Great Lakes history, lighthouses and their keepers, shipping stories, storms on the lakes. Rev. Law was blessed with faith, courage and a very caring nature. Having worked in elementary school libraries and a public library, I especially liked the special effort Rev. Law made to help the light keepers pass their lonely vigils on very remote stations. John Kotzian has paid a true tribute to his great-great-grandfather, and has done a splendid job in researching and organizing the volumes of written fliers, letters, Message booklets from each year of the Law's working life. Truly a Good Read!
Profile Image for Harrison Withers.
Author 1 book4 followers
August 28, 2014
The life of a lighthouse keeper is often presented as a romantic notion, as a noble, peaceful albeit solitary pursuit. The reality of those lighthouse keepers and the Life Saving Service Crews following the turn of the century was far less rosy than I ever could have imagined. The Reverend W.H. Law worked tirelessly to provide comfort to and lobby for the improvement of the situation of these important life-saving characters in our collective history. This book is a must-read for history buffs from a cross section in interests including but not limited to Detroit, Michigan, Great Lakes Maritime, The Coast Guard, and Lighthouses.
Profile Image for Mary.
323 reviews5 followers
January 2, 2023
In the early part of October, 1900 the traveling minister William H. Law met the fury of Lake Huron on a return trip from Bois Blanc Island to his home 20 miles south in Hessel MI. Along with his son Charley and a friend, the trio battled gale force wind and waves until their boat was pushed up on the rocks. Luckily they were in sight of the Walker’s Point Life-Saving Station. Captain Cleary and his crew worked tirelessly to release the boat from the rocks and eventually were able to tow it back to the shore for repairs. As the storm raged on, Rev. Law seized the opportunity to get the know the crew and their families that lived in this remote location. He learned of other such stations located in even more remote locations than Bois Blanc and heard tales that ranged from periods of boredom and loneliness to selfless heroic efforts to save the lives of mariners in distress. Being a learned man, he noticed that the men had little or no reading materials to keep their minds active and vowed to change that. Soon it became evident to him that his call to spread ‘The Gospel of Humanity’ would be to better the lives of the keepers and surfmen of the US Life-Saving Service in the Great Lakes and eventually the vast expanse of the United States.

Reverend Law began collecting books and magazines to fulfil his mission to personally visit remote stations in the summer months, publish tales and stories he gathered on these trips in pamphlets called ‘The Message,’ and lobbying the US government to increase the pay and benefits of the surfmen and keepers. He partnered with the Detroit Public Library to acquire reading materials the library no longer had use of and started writing personal letters to the surfmen and lightkeepers stationed in all parts of the United States, relaying news, good cheer and informing them of tales of other stations and his own work in lobbying the government for their benefit.
Profile Image for John R. R..
Author 2 books1 follower
December 31, 2017
Being from Michigan, it was completely new territory but very close to home.
32 reviews1 follower
November 3, 2014
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I'm glad I did. This book was great. It was well written, and was easy to follow. I enjoyed reading about all the endeavors of W.H. Law. I thought this book would be full of religion, as Law was a reverend, but it did not have as much as one would think; He rather believed in the "Gospel of Humanity". My only regret is that there is a not many more people like him nowadays.
Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews

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