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St. Augustine Lighthouse celebrates 90th birthday of former keeper's daughter

Over the years, Wilma Daniels returned to the very ground she grew up on and climb the steps to the top of the tower.
Credit: St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Wilma Daniels is a living relic and tribute to days not so distant in our past. On On Wednesday, Daniels celebrated her 90th birthday at a special place that holds special memories.

Born in 1931, Wilma is the daughter of career lighthouse keeper Cardell and Grace Daniels. 

Cardell began his career 20 years earlier in 1911 in St. Augustine. His career took him to Hunting Island, Jupiter Inlet and Ponce Inlet, according to the Lighthouse Research Catalog. In 1935, he was transferred one last time to St. Augustine to be the Principal Lighthouse Keeper of St. Augustine Lighthouse.

His salary was $1,320.

Wilma and three brothers and one sister grew up on the grounds of the lighthouse, witnessing the transition from oil lanterns to provide light to electricity, according to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. 

While Cardell's time as lighthouse keeper ended in 1943, Wilma remained St. Augustine, eventually serving as a janitor for a local school, according to a profile by Project Archeology

However, she never forgot her years living as the daughter of a lighthouse keeper. Over the years, Wilma returned to the very ground she grew up on and climb the steps to the top of the tower.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum Executive Director, Kathy Fleming called Wilma a "treasure."

On its Facebook page, the museum also told fans to "stay tuned" for an infamous story involving Wilma's cat and her brother Cardell "Cracker" Daniels Jr.

Yesterday, we celebrated Wilma Daniels' 90th birthday! Her father, Cardell Daniels, became the lighthouse keeper in 1935...

Posted by St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum on Wednesday, July 28, 2021