ELIZABETHTOWN —Bobby Lewis, who passed away suddenly in late February, left his mark on Bladen County, a legacy that included a love of local history from the Revolutionary War and beyond. Recently, that love of history coupled with his desie to keep it alive in Bladen County was recognized posthumously.
The Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce recently named Lewis as its Caring Person of the Year. The award is given annually to someone who, according to Executive Director Dawn Maynard, does good things in the community willingly and unselfishly. Recipients do not have to be Chamber members to qualify.
“He (Lewis) was already in the spotlight for doing good things in the community,” said Maynard, “volunteering for leadership with the Battle of Elizabethtown — he steered the committee for that festival — and he did a great job without compensation. He really put his heart, soul, time, and resources into it.”
The re-enactment of the Battle of Elizabethtown in Tory Hole Park had become an annual event and saw around 3,000 visitors last year.
Maynard added, “He’s done a lot with history in Bladen County, and was both passionate and willing to share that history with others.”
Maynard cited Lewis’ work with Harmony Hall Plantation Village as another reason for his receiving the award. Lewis revived the Backwoods Militia at the site, reinstituted the use of canons on the property, and oversaw numerous restoration projects during his tenure as field marshal, a position which allowed him to open the plantation every Sunday for visitors. He invited high school groups to the plantation and taught them era-specific skills, such as throwing a tomahawk and cooking over an open fire.
The selection of Lewis for the honor came with careful consideration, according to Maynard.
“There were several other people that were considered,” she said. “That award is difficult to give out, because there are so many good people doing good things in the community.”
The award will be presented at the Chamber’s banquet in June. Lewis’ brother Seth will receive the award for his brother.
“It’s a great surprise to hear that they (the Chamber) are going to do this, and I’m looking forward to receiving the award on Bobby’s behalf,” he said. “It’s a great honor for Harmony Hall, the Historical Society, and, especially, for the family.”
Non-Chamber members are welcome to attend the banquet, and interested persons should call the Chamber for tickets.
“If people want to come dressed in period wear to honor Bobby, they can do that,” encouraged Maynard.
The Chamber will, at the banquet, also present several other awards. Robert Hester will be the recipient of the Honorary Lifetime Award, the Outstanding Small Business Award will be presented to Whimsical Florist, and the Outstanding Chamber Award will go to the town of White Lake.
“I think (Bobby) would be very proud and appreciable,” said Seth regarding what he thought Bobby would say about his award, “but I think he would want more emphasis placed on projects rather than himself.”
He added, “Even though he has died, I think he’s still teaching the history that he loved.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.