18 July 2008 by Published in: General News 3 comments

The Civil War Preservation Trust released this statement today:


For many years writer served as the voice of the Civil War community

(Washington, D.C., 2/18/2008) – The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) learned yesterday of the death of journalist, history lover and passionate preservationist Deborah Fitts, following a lengthy battle with cancer. CWPT President James Lighthizer made the following statement recalling Deborah’s work and legacy:

“Today the entire Civil War community mourns the loss of a truly beloved figure. Every individual with more than a passing interest in Civil War history was aware of Deborah’s byline and knew it stood for quality reporting. Her monthly work with the Civil War News, and in numerous other publications, brought the Civil War alive for thousands of people.

“Deborah was an absolutely wonderful person and a first rate journalist. I knew her, both personally and professionally, for almost a decade. I have the highest respect, not just for her journalistic professionalism and ability, but also for her as a human being. She was unfailingly fair and unbiased in her work, but still managed to let her passion for Civil War history and preservation come across in her writing.

“Few people know that in addition to her writing career, Deborah also served on the staff of the Civil War Trust, one of CWPT’s predecessor organizations. Even once that tenure ended, Deborah continued to contribute to the cause of preservation in her own way. She was unflappable but also humble, and never sought credit for herself. Instead she strove to educate others about events she found important. Hands down, Deborah was the best and most important journalist on Civil War issues, especially preservation. The entire Civil War community is much the poorer for her passing.

“The Civil War Preservation Trust’s Board of Trustees, members and staff join me in expressing our deepest sympathy to Deborah’s husband, Civil War historian and preservationist Clark B. “Bud” Hall, and to the rest of her family. Although she is gone, I know that Deborah’s passion for educating the world about history and its preservation will live in the hearts of both those who knew her personally and her loyal readers for years to come.”

With 65,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. CWPT’s website is www.civilwar.org .

Deb was a friend of mine. Last month, her husband, Bud Hall, was supposed to help me lead a tour of Kelly’s Ford, Brandy Station, and Culpeper, but what became the end stage of Deb’s very lengthy and very courageous battle with cancer began that week. For obvious reasons, Bud could not get away from Massachusetts; his place was with his wife, not on the battlefield with me. From what he told me then, I had a pretty good idea that this was not going to end well, and yesterday, when I got to the office, there was a voice mail waiting for me from Bud’s son, Brian, who is a ranger with the National Park Service. I’ve only met Brian once, and it was years ago, so I knew that there was only one reason for him to be calling me.

Between her familiar and excellent journalistic work with Civil War News and her unwavering support of preservation causes, Deb was unique. She had the bully pulpit at her disposal and I cannot think of anyone who used it more effectively or more frequently than she did, constantly promoting preservation and making sure that it stayed in the public eye.

The Civil War community, and, in particular, the battlefield preservation community, has lost a great friend in Deborah Fitts.

Rest in peace, Deb. You deserve a rest after that long and terrible battle you just fought. However, as I wrote to Bud last night, I’ve never known anyone who bore the burden with the grace that you did, and I likewise have never known anyone to be so resistant to the idea of going quietly into that good night.

And to her family, and, in particular, my friend and mentor Bud Hall, condolences and sincerest best wishes for your loss.

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  1. Sun 20th Jul 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I never met Deb, but she did great work and I always enjoyed reading her articles. Nice that you took the time to post this, Eric.


  2. Todd Berkoff
    Sun 20th Jul 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks for posting Eric. Even though I didn’t know her, Deborah’s efforts should be made known. I’m sure Bud appreciates this.

  3. Andrew German
    Wed 23rd Jul 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you for posting this, Eric.

    I thought a great deal of Deb, both through her journalistic contributions to Civil War preservation and through her family heritage nearby in Southeastern Connecticut. Not only that, she was just a cool person.

    She will not be forgotten.
    Andy German

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