Each year, the Mariner Award is given to an individual who had a significant, positive, lasting impact on the Door County Maritime Community. On Monday, Steve Brunstrom, a life-long mariner and marine surveyor with the American Bureau of Shipping, was so honored at a presentation dinner at the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club. Of his four decades in the industry, 20 years were served as the senior surveyor then principal surveyor of the bureau’s great lakes office in Sturgeon Bay. Over the years, he has dedicated countless volunteer hours to the Door County Maritime Museum’s Classic and Wooden Boat Festival and currently serves on the museum’s board of directors.
Minnie Hesh Cochems and Joseph Harris, Jr. were honored with posthumous Mariner Awards. The niece of a lighthouse keeper and wife of a lighthouse keeper, Minnie Cochems would go on to become a lighthouse keeper herself, a feat unusual for her time. She would spend more than 30 years tending the structures and grounds of Sherwood Point. It is said her spirit still inhabits the Sherwood Point Light Station. Joseph Harris, Jr. could have easily been overshadowed by his famous father, but instead became one of the founding fathers of the area’s boat construction industry. A wounded Civil War veteran, he joined the US Lighthouse Service in 1875, serving at several duty stations, including the Dunlap Reef Light Station in Sturgeon Bay where he opened his boat building business, becoming renowned for designing and constructing small sailing and rowing vessels of the highest quality. Harris retired from the thriving industry in 1910.