Friday, July 28, 2017

B&O Railroad Museum Mourns Loss of Two Transitional Leaders

This year saw the loss of two individuals who made real and material differences in the growth and maturity of the B&O Railroad Museum.

Richard Leatherwood (1939-2017)

Richard Leatherwood served as the museum's first Chairman of the Board after CSX created the B&O Railroad Museum, Inc. as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation and donated the collection and real estate to encompass what the museum is today. Richard hired the museum's first professional museum director in 1989 and oversaw the transition of the B&O from a dusty, dark, little visited corporate collection to a nationally significant railroad museum. He was Chairman when I was hired in 1997 and turned over the reins of the museum to his successor James T. Brady in 1999. I remember him as an astute leader with an affable nature who care deeply about the museum's success and prosperity. He never lost his love for the B&O.

Bill Withuhn (1941-2017)
Bill Withuhn immediately became a close and valued colleague upon my arrival at the B&O in 1997. Serving for almost 30 years as the Senior Curator of Transportation for the Smithsonian, he personally introduced me to the railroad museum world and the movers and shakers within. He had a deep and abiding love for the museum's collection and its historic campus often remarking that he considered the B&O one of the world's greatest heritage railroad treasures. In 1999 he used his influence to bring the B&O Railroad Museum into the embryonic Smithsonian Affiliations Program which has made an enormous difference on the status and profile of the B&O worldwide for the past 18 years. In 2003 when the roundhouse roof collapsed he organized teams of curators from America's most mature railroad museums to respond to Baltimore and help assess the damage to our world class collections. We stayed in touch during his retirement and his influence on the B&O Railroad Museum will never be forgotten. 

Their obituaries are printed below.

Courtney B. Wilson
Executive Director
August 1, 2017

Richard L. Leatherwood, 1939-2017, of Boca Grande and Walland, Tenn., died at his mountain home on June 25th.

He is survived by his wife Mary Ann; his daughter and son-in-law, Katherine and Eric Brakman; beloved granddaughters Stella and Nora Brakman, all of Richmond, Virginia; and a loving extended family.

Richard grew up in the Fairview community and graduated from Maryville High School, The University of Tennessee and Rutgers University, and he earned a Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology.

In his management career, Richard worked for American Freight, Texas Gas Transmission and CSX Transportation. He served on the board of directors of several organizations, including Maryville College, CACI International, CSX Transportation, Maryland National Bank, The Baltimore Opera, The University of Tennessee College of Business Advisory Board, and Dominion Resources.

For several years he chaired the boards of the B&O Railroad Museum and the Baltimore City Life Museum. Richard was an officer in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. Memorial contributions may be made to the Richard L. Leatherwood Scholarship Fund at Maryville College in Tennessee. Funeral services were held on Wednesday, June 28. A private interment will be at Grandview Cemetery. 
Courtesy of Boca Beacon

William Lawrence (Bill Withuhn, 1941-2017
Bill, whose name for his occasional opinion pieces in the Ca-laveras Enterprise was "Old Sky Warrior", has taken his last flight, passing away on June 29, 2017, at his home in Burson, surrounded by his family. A memorial service for Bill took place on July 2, 2017, at the First Congregational Church in Murphys, and his ashes will be placed in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bill led a full life in his 75 years, entering the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned officer after graduating from UC Berkeley in 1963 and serving nine years on active duty. Too tall to be a pilot, he opted to become a navigator in MAC (the transport service) in the days before GPS. In 1969-1970, he served his tour in Vietnam as a navigator on C-119 "Shadow" gunships, which supported ground troops needing aerial support. For saving his crew when a flare became entangled in the plane's automatic flare launcher, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross.

After leaving the Air Force and after graduate school at Cornell, deeply loving trains and particularly the history of the steam locomotive (as well as automotive history), Bill in 1983 became the Curator of Transportation at The National Museum of American History, one of the 11 Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Serving almost 30 years, he focused his energies on enlarging the scope of the museum's influence. He created alliances with regional rail museums and with groups working to restore notable steam locomotives. Realizing that expertise to maintain steam engines at tourist railways was declining rapidly, he assembled a committee that worked with the Federal Rail Administration to write and publish in the Federal Register regulations to maintain safely those aging engines. He added to the automobile collection not only one of Richard Petty's race cars but also a Low Rider from the Hispanic Community in New Mexico, an EV-1 electric and a Sun Racer. Re-doing the railroad and automotive exhibits, he titled the new exhibit, "America On the Move" and focused on how the train, automobile and motorcycle changed Americans' lives. After retiring in 2010, he became the lead consultant for the new Museum of African American History and Culture in its acquisition and restoration of a Jim Crow railroad car. 

Living in Calaveras County, Bill was thrilled to write opinion pieces for the Calaveras Enterprise. The frequency, length, and depth of those columns decreased after a stroke in 2013, but Bill never stopped dreaming of more columns to write. Good-bye and God-speed. Your loving family, Gail, Harold, Tom, Kat, and Harper.
Courtesy of The Calaveras Enterprise

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