Congratulations to Dr. Lawrence Fleenor of Big Stone Gap – winner of the 2019 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Senior Volunteer! Dr. Fleenor has taken his love for and dedication to the history of Southwest Virginia and turned it into a remarkable way to serve his community. A tireless advocate and volunteer for the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park, he has volunteered more than 5,550 hours. Additionally, Dr. Fleenor volunteers as historian at Natural Tunnel State Park and the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association. He led the work to create the Southwest Virginia Museum’s historical bus tours, for which he researches, writes scripts, and compiles illustrations. He has also been instrumental in creating day trip tours to numerous local points of interest which have attracted hundreds of visitors and created a consistent revenue stream for the museum.
Dr. Fleenor’s desire to expand and preserve knowledge about not only the “what happened” aspect of history, but the “what created the outcome” findings as well, have sparked creative innovations in how to teach and interpret past events and lifestyles. His public/private partnership efforts have also opened coal company properties to tour groups, privately owned historic sites to public visits, and foundation funding to underwrite facets of programming and preservation efforts. Additionally, Dr. Fleenor is an author who has published six books on the region (with three more online) and he has written 67 research papers and possesses nearly countless research files which are being added to the museum’s collection.
Now 78 years old, he still maintains his same determination and drive, the same support for the park system and the same pride in the contributions of those who shaped Virginia’s, and the nation’s, history. His work has forever altered the course of the parks he has assisted and continues to shape them in new and positive ways.