Virginia Museum of Transportation director will leave behind legacy

Bev Fitzpatrick will retire at the end of the year

ROANOKE, Va. – Bev Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, says he’s going to retire at the end of the year.

He says after 11 years, in a way, he’s saying goodbye to his family.

He said he has “very mixed emotions because this museum has been a part of my life since I went on the board as a 15 year old."

That 15 year old would late lead to museum to international recognition and orchestrate the massive project that resulted in the rebirth of the 611, one of the most modern steam locomotives ever built.

He brought in $3.5 million in donations, bringing back to life a symbol of Roanoke’s rich railway history. He says it’ll be hard to leave that.

“The museum has been really good to me,” he said. “But at 71, which is what I’ll be when I retire, it’s the right time.”

He says he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family.

Tom Cox, a museum Executive Committee member, hired him in 2006.

“He really took us from being at the bottom to where we are right now, and this museum has never looked better,” Cox said.

The museum has never had this many people visiting. The number has quadrupled, to more than 50,000 people visiting each year. It’s had a positive impact on Roanoke’s economy and left a lasting impression on people who work there.

“The staff, the volunteers, everyone that’s associated with the Virginia Museum of Transportation, we are truly family,” guest services worker Chuck Hardy said.

And Fitzpatrick doesn’t see that changing.

“My hope is that the next era will be even better than the last one,” he said.

Cox says the search to find Fitzpatrick’s replacement is in its early stages. He says Fitzpatrick will be a difficult man to replace.

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