Virginia Museum of Transportation Executive Director Beverly (Bev) T. Fitzpatrick, Jr. will retire from his position at the end of the calendar year. Fitzpatrick made this announcement Thursday at the VMT’s Annual Membership Meeting.
“I have loved this museum all my life and it’s amazing that this relationship started when the City Manager appointed me to the board. But it’s time after what this great staff has accomplished for a newer, younger leader to take this museum to its next great achievement,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m really looking forward to spending time with my wife and maybe even more time playing model trains and trucks.”
Fitzpatrick signed on as the Executive Director of the VMT at the request of the then-board in 2006. He inherited a less than satisfactory operation and was tasked with saving the museum. In the 11 years since, the VMT has grown leaps and bounds from a state of near-bankruptcy to financial stability year in and year out.
Under Fitzpatrick’s leadership full-time paid staff grew from 3 to 12, budgets increased from $300,000 to $1M plus per year not including 611 operations, and annual attendance is up from an average of 12,000 to 50,000 plus per year. The majority of the VMT collection has been refurbished and continues to grow as part of the effort to deliver quality customer service and ensure the quality of the collection that is known worldwide.
The VMT is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Official Transportation Museum and in the last year began receiving attention from other high level museums across the state for donations and partnership opportunities.
He was instrumental in the Fire Up 611! campaign to restore the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam locomotive. This project earned attention from around the world and received millions of dollars in donations.The Virginia General Assembly designated the 611 as Virginia’s Official Steam Locomotive.
Fitzpatrick also led the VMT on a number of capital projects including major infrastructure upgrades to the museum which lives in the former Norfolk & Western Freight Depot built in 1918.
“I see the opportunity to restore 611 as the most significant event in the VMT’s history. Our thanks will always be present to Norfolk Southern, Wick Moorman and other donors for making this possible.” Fitzpatrick said. “It has allowed the Roanoke Valley to showcase its finest local achievement by the men of Norfolk & Western who designed and built her. This single achievement embodies the proud history of Roanoke and has put the VMT on the world map.”
Fitzpatrick has been a staple in the City of Roanoke for nearly his entire life working at Dominion Bank as a senior level executive for more than two decades. He served on a number of regional boards and on Roanoke City Council, including three terms as Vice Mayor. He joined the VMT at 15-years-old as a board member and despite retirement will still maintain contact in an advisory role as needed.
Fitzpatrick will remain President of the Commonwealth Coach and Trolley Museum, Inc., which is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s official transit museum providing transportation to non-profit organizations in the region with a heritage bus fleet.
He will also remain President of Roanoke Southern, LLC., the organization that owns the 2.5 mile long property and track along the Roanoke River, from Franklin Road to Bridge Street, that intends to open a future tourist excursion line in partnership with the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
“Anyone who knows me knows I love big toys and the Virginia Museum of Transportation will always have a special place in my heart,” Fitzpatrick said. “I look forward to stepping back and watching what comes next, offering my help at the museum’s request.”
The Virginia Museum of Transportation Board of Directors will hire Fitzpatrick’s replacement. No specific application close date has been set for the hire but members are working diligently to find only the highest qualified candidates.
Plans are for VMT Deputy Director Don Moser to lead the museum as interim Executive Director and ready staff for the new hire’s arrival.