Lighthouses are often viewed as beacons of hope in the darkness. They provide a sense of safety to those who land on their shores. They provide a path leading you home. For Patricia Bodo Sazy and Martha Denise Vickers it was a book about lighthouses that united the two native West Virginians and Marshall University graduates.
“Caesar’s Lighthouse Adventures” is a delightful and informative children’s book written by Sazy and illustrated by Vickers. Caesar, a Lhasa Apso, travels up and down the East Coast with his fellow canine pals as they explore 12 fascinating lighthouses.
Sazy hails from Logan County and Vickers is from Charleston. Currently, they both not only live in Louisville, Kentucky, but they live in the same neighborhood. They became more closely acquainted during their time together in their neighborhood association while decorating for the 2019 holiday season. Each were unaware of their shared West Virginia roots until they began working on the book.
“She’s an excellent illustrator,” Sazy said. “We had gotten to know each other and when I started my book I called her. We then realized we were both from West Virginia and we both went to Marshall.”
“It was just happenstance that we found out we were both Marshall graduates,” Vickers added. “I had an education in art and she said she wanted to do a book on lighthouses and made me the illustrator.”
In “Caesar’s Lighthouse Adventures,” Caesar and his friend Izzy, a Yorkshire Terrier, start their journey with the Summersville Lake Lighthouse in Mt. Nebo, West Virginia, and end their trip at Lighthouse Landing in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. In between, Caesar and Izzy encounter many fur-covered friends at lighthouses in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. Each of the dogs featured in the book are based on dogs Sazy knows or knew in real life, including Caesar, which was her dog who passed away in 2014.
Sazy drew inspiration for the book from her parents. Both were Hungarian immigrants, and her father, who became a coal miner working at Holden 22 Coal Camp, used to share with Sazy the importance of light in the mines to make it out safely.
In her book’s author bio, Sazy said her father noted how brightly the Statue of Liberty shone when he landed at Ellis Island. “Lighthouses were beacons of light for those manning and warning ships of a safe or dangerous harbor. So dad gave me the inspiration for reading about the importance of light and lighthouses,” she wrote.
In preparation for the book, Sazy traveled to each of the featured lighthouses and researched facts about them to accompany the fictionalized story.
“This book is a great thing for teachers,” Sazy said. “It’s a book that grows with you. It’s for all ages from elementary school on. It’s educating people on lighthouses.”
Once Sazy had Vickers onboard as the illustrator, Vickers began sketching out the lighthouses, but instead of illustrating them in her own personal style she took a more customized approach to each lighthouse.
“It’s been rewarding as she allowed me to choose artists from each state in which the lighthouse was located in to try to interpret that artist’s style in depicting the lighthouses,” Vickers said. “Our hope is that children, as they read the book, can see different types of art.”
Since the book was published, it has garnered a lot of buzz. Sazy’s and Vicker’s adopted hometown of Louisville recently awarded Sazy with a proclamation honoring her work for “Caesar’s Lighthouse Adventures” and her dedicated service toward the betterment of her community.
“I was ecstatically surprised,” Sazy said.
Sazy and Vickers, who quickly bonded over the book and their ties to the Mountain State, speak highly of their alma mater and the opportunities it has afforded them.
For Sazy, attending Marshall was a family affair, which included her siblings and her late daughter, Monica Ann Lucas.
“We all have degrees from Marshall,” Sazy said. “Each one of us had something special that we did at Marshall. I cannot say I had a better education.”
Sazy has a bachelor’s degree in library science and a master’s degree in communications media, graduating in 1971 and 1973, respectively. Before she moved to Kentucky, she was the medical library consultant for Logan General Hospital, now Logan Regional Medical Center, and for 13 years she was the library media specialist for Logan County Public Schools. After moving to Louisville, she was the library media specialist and technology coordinator at Butler Traditional High School, retiring in 2004. In addition to being a newly-minted author and owner of PMSazy Book Express, she is also a licensed massage therapist with 32 years of service. Since 2014, Sazy has been a board member of the Holden 22 Miners Memorial Fund Inc., serving as first vice president and public relations coordinator.
In 1989, Sazy established a scholarship in memory of her daughter. Over the course of the past 33 years, the scholarship has been awarded 32 times. The Monica Ann Lucas Memorial Scholarship is available to students studying health care management in the Lewis College of Business and Brad D. Smith Schools of Business. For 22 years, Sazy served on the College of Business’ advisory board. Because of Sazy’s continued giving, she is also a part of the John Marshall Society, provides recognition to individuals, corporations and foundations who make a significant gift to the growth and development of Marshall University.
“I will always be a Holden 22 Coal Camp girl, a West Virginia mountain gal, and a diehard Marshall University fan,” Sazy said. “I am very proud of being brought up in the age of innocence, home grown, and very proud of my Hungarian American upbring.”
Vickers graduated from Marshall in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in fiber arts. Vickers has worked in an array of industries, including health care, law and other professions as an artist. After graduation, Vickers worked in custom framing. She then worked for CASCI/BlueCross BlueShield in Charleston. From there, she moved to Chicago and worked at Wheaton College as the insurance coordinator. Upon moving to Louisville, she continued working in health care before taking a leap into the legal world and worked at a law firm as the administrative assistant. She now works for a company that specializes in creating fandom art called 2nd Star Productions.
She credits her versatile career to past professors Michael Cornfeld, June Kilgore and Stanley Sporny who were huge influences on her life.
“You can take the girl out of the mountains, but you can’t take them out of the girl,” Vickers said. “I’m just so glad for my time at Marshall because I felt like that was the beginning of my broader view of the world and seeing all the possibilities that can be had for someone just starting out in college. To this day, I think of them so fondly. I’m the person I am today because of Marshall in so many ways.”
“Caesar’s Lighthouse Adventures” is currently in many of the gift shops of the lighthouses that are featured, with multiple reorders in the works. Interested in owning a copy? Visit www.caesarslighthouseadventures.com to get your copy today.