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December 30, 2016 – (Key West, FL). Florida Historian and Former Navy Patrolman Tom Hambright to Offer Presentation with KWAHS Distinguished Speaker Series

With 2017 marking the centennial anniversary of Naval Air Station Key West, The Society turns its focus to the Navy in Key West.  On Thursday, January 12, 2017 from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Key West Art & Historical Society welcomes the public to a presentation by Distinguished Speaker Series guest Tom Hambright, who will offer an engaging presentation on the history and connection between the U.S. Navy and Key West in the Helmerich Research & Learning Center on the third floor of the Custom House Museum.

Monroe County Public Libraries’ 30-year historian and retired Naval Lieutenant Commander will entertain attendees with personal accounts during his 21 years in the Navy.  Hambright’s initial assignment with the Navy was as Shore Patrolman, a position whose primary function is to make sure sailors on their free time do not become too rowdy, and provide them assistance with civilian courts and police.

“It was an important job down here because there were so many bars, and there were many that were off limits,” says Society curator Cori Convertito, PhD. “He would essentially have to go in and escort them back to base.”

Hambright has served on the board of directors for the Old Island Restoration Foundation, the Key West Maritime Historical Society, and the Key West Art & Historical Society, and is well-known in the community for his encyclopedic knowledge of local lore and Florida history.

“Tom has an outstanding memory and can talk on any subject,” says Society Curator Cori Convertito, PhD.  “The Navy in particular is a subject that he is truly passionate about.  People are in for a treat with his talk.”

Convertito leaned into Hambright’s wealth of information to help her curate the upcoming Navy in Key West exhibit, which opens Friday, January 13 in the Bumpus and Bryan Galleries.

“Tom is able to give a wider perspective of the importance of the Navy and the even wider interests of the island and the residents living here,” she says. “He really puts the Navy in Key West into a larger, contextual picture.”

The Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsored by the Helmerich Trust. Tickets are available at through KWAHS.ORG/LEARN; $8 for members, $15 for nonmembers.  For more information contact Adele Williams, Director of Education, at 305-295-6616, x115. Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.


Members of the Navy Sonar School Choir line the stairway at 410 Caroline Street in Key West in 1960.  (Photo from The Heritage House Collection, donated by the Campbell, Poirier and Pound families).###