Two pieces of big news in the Civil War community came through in the last 30 hours or so. First came news Sunday evening of the death of Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr., who died over the weekend at age 89 following a long illness. ECW will pay tribute to Bud later this week.
Then earlier today came news that another giant in the field, O. James Lighthizer, president of the American Battlefield Trust, has announced his retirement.
Lighthizer’s announcement came in an email letter and video to supporters. (You can watch his video announcement here.) “My two decades of service as president of this organization have been the best of my career,” Lighthizer told Trust supporters in his email, “primarily because I get to work with passionate and generous people like you who care so much about saving our county’s incomparable history.”
Lighthizer took the helm of what was then the Civil War Preservation Trust in 1999. At that point, the organization had preserved 7,000 acres. “Since then – thanks to generous patriots like you, our partners and the amazing team here at the Trust – we’ve grown our membership, broadened our mission and forever preserved nearly 52,000 acres of hallowed battlefield land,” he said in his letter.
The Trust’s Board of Directors will conduct a national search to find Lighthizer’s successor, and Lighthizer will stay on as president until the search has concluded. He will then remain on the board as president emeritus. “I will also be available to help and advise the new CEO upon request and participate in the Trust’s advocacy efforts with lawmakers and in major preservation efforts,” he explained.