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Thomas Balch Library Presents 20th Annual History Awards

Four distinguished honorees work to preserve Loudoun's history

Thomas Balch Library held its 20th annual Loudoun History Awards on Sunday.  The awards honored four individuals who have selflessly dedicated their time and energy to preserve local history in Loudoun county. 

This year’s honorees included Kenneth Flemming, James Hanna, Louis Jett and James Lucier, Sr. 

“This is one of the special things that the Advisory Commission does,” said James Hershman, Jr, vice chair of the Thomas Balch Library Advisory Committee. 

“We have quite a distinguished group of people and these awards are a way of honoring people in Loudoun who work to preserve history," he added. "It is also a great way to call attention to this area and the need to understand the history here."

Kenneth Flemming was honored for his work as a master craftsman of preserving Civil War era gravestones. He has preserved more than 50 grave markers in Loudoun County.

Flemming is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and one of their mandates is to take care of the veterans. Now he finds himself taking care of their resting places and has worked all over Loudoun County working to reset broken gravestones and put them back together, making them look new again. 

Tracy and Richard Gillespie presented Flemming with the award.

“My parents always taught me to always do my best and give a hundred percent," Flemming said. "I hope to one day inspire someone else to do the same."

The second nominee is James Hanna, a talented local photographer who has spent countless hours photographing local historical sites. 

Lori Kimball offered the award to Hanna describing how he went beyond the call of duty to prepare a presentation of photos for the historic property Selma in Leesburg. Jim gives tirelessly of his time and talent, Kimball said. 

“I am deeply appreciative of this honor, which was a big surprise,” said Hanna.  “This is one of the few places that makes a connection between the visual arts as a tool to help advance heritage preservation and history”.

Louis Jett was the third nominee, and has done extensive research of black history in this area. Jett, who was born in Loudoun, has documented all of black history of anyone who has born, lived or died in Loudoun. 

He has plans to author a book, the timing of which has been set back due to a fire in 2010 at Asbury Church in Hillsboro that destroyed most of his research. 

“I am very appreciative of this award and honored to be part of this group,” Jett said. 

The fourth nominee was James Lucier, Sr. who has been a long-time contributor in Loudoun County to the advocacy, preservation, historical research and writing of its history. 

Lucier has contributed over two decades of work and his involvement in the architecture of the renovation to the Thomas Balch Library was substantial.

“The more that we have to link us to the past makes the present and future more meaningful,” said Lucier.

Joan Rokus, who presented the award, said that Lucier’s “efforts and interest in historic preservation in Loudoun has meant a lot."

The Loudoun History Awards are sponsored by the Thomas Balch Library Advisory Commission and were established to recognize contributions of local historian John Elbert Devine (1911-1996), in preserving Loudoun County history.

The annual awards highlight diverse aspects of the county’s history and honors individuals who have made significant contributions to preserving Loudoun’s past through collection of county documents and memorabilia, preservation of historic landmarks, visual arts, writing and long-term involvement in local history organizations.

To learn more, including how to nominate someone for next year's event, call 703-737-7195.

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