The photo shows little detail of the medal, but this article is an interesting story of how a Rhode Island Lifesaving station museum came to display an impressive lifesaving medal issued in 1889. -Editor Weeks before a partial restoration of the Westport lifesaving station is completed, the Westport Fishermen’s Association got a look Monday at a medal that may prove a rescue once took place off the shore, something the association had believed never happened.
Lois DiLibero, who lived in Newport, R.I., as a young girl, visited from Florida to tour the station and show off the medal she found in a box handed down from her late aunt. DiLibero's aunt may have lived in the same Newport home as the woman who received the medal in 1889, Sarah Turner. Little else is known about the rescue. The medal says it was awarded by the Westport Harbor Humane Society, a group that no longer exists.
While researching the rescue and Turner's background, the Westport Fishermen’s Association is also coordinating the restoration of the lifesaving station, part of which could open by the end of the month. The association, which is leasing the building from the state, hopes to open the triangular visitors center this fall.
Sarah Turner’s medal would be a central piece of the visitors center as a rare artifact from the station, which was in use for only 25 years.
Turner’s medal is six ounces of solid silver, DiLibero said. A few inches in diameter, it commends Turner for her “distinguished bravery” in rescuing a shipwrecked boat near the entrance to the harbor on Aug. 25, 1888. It comes in a case with a ribbon that features Turner’s name. DiLibero and Fishermen’s Association members are figuring out how the medal will be displayed at the station.
DiLibero contacted the Fishermen’s Association after reading last year that no rescues were believed to have taken place from the lifesaving station.
The association hasn’t been able to verify the authenticity of the medal, but Gillespie believes that Turner, whose age at the time is unknown, may have taken a boat out to rescue the crew. In the days before telephones, contacting professional rescuers would have taken too long.
To read the complete article, see: HEAVY MEDAL: Fla. woman finds memento of daring rescue (http://www.heraldnews.com/news/local_news/x1885883883
Wayne Homren, Editor
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