First African-American Life Saving Service station keeper honored with statue

MANTEO, N.C. – The town of Manteo honored life saver and civil rights hero Richard Etheridge with a bronze statue which was unveiled Saturday on Roanoke Island.

Etheridge was born into slavery on Roanoke Island in 1842 and went on to become the first African-American in charge of a U.S. Life-Saving Service rescue station.

He was in charge of the Pea Island station from 1880 to 1900.

Richard Ethridge Statue

The keynote speaker for the unveiling, Daniel Gardiner, shared the impact Etheridge’s work made on his life. Gardiner’s uncle and grandparents were among nine people pulled from the wreck of the sailing ship E.S. Newman by the men of the Pea Island rescue station in 1896.

“God bless Richard Etheridge,” said Gardiner. “You can see that the appreciation for Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island life savers lives on and actually gets stronger every time I come down here.”

The bronze statue was crafted by Stephen H. Smith over the course of 10 months.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kendrick

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