Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Major Milestone for Captain Lee Duckworth

By Joseph Judge 
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Curator

Hampton Roads Naval Museum Education Director Lee Duckworth pauses during a rare quiet moment at his desk in downtown Norfolk.
The Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM), the museum profession, and the Navy historical community is bidding good-bye to our beloved Director of Education, Lee Duckworth. Lee directed the museum’s education programs since 2008, making them a model for the command and one of the best education programs for a small museum in the United States. Prior to that achievement he worked for HRNM as the Operations Manager for the battleship Wisconsin.
Lee and his team have highlighted lessons from the past to teach and promote leadership in the future.
The museum’s education programs have provided outstanding professional service to the Navy and HRNM. Lee and his team have highlighted lessons from the past to teach and promote leadership in the future.


Lee Duckworth with HRNM Exhibits Specialist Don Darcy (center) and Deputy Education Director Laura Orr (right). 
Lee confirmed to the group that the vessel in the background was not his first ship. 
"At least I'm pretty sure because there is no helo pad," he told them.  

It was with grace, humor, and dedication that Lee coordinated programs over a wide range of venues with civilian and military staff and volunteers. Museum educators under Lee’s leadership provided programs in the museum gallery, schools, and other locations for military and civilian groups. In just one year, for example, 133 on-site programs reached 7,125 visitors while 351 off-site programs reached 31,662 people, mostly students. Those statistics represent a monumental record for a museum that has a total staff of 13.  

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's annual "Brick by Brick" event (left), held in February, and CPO Heritage Days, held in August, are two signature programs that Lee oversees.   
Lee and his team developed and expanded the signature “Brick by Brick Lego Shipbuilding” into a regional event that drew 2,936 people last year. Lee was also instrumental in the planning and execution of Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Days presentations to Chief Petty Officer selectees. His efforts resulted in the largest and most renowned program to provide this service to the US Navy. In 2016 the museum staff interacted with each of the 768 CPO-selectee participants who represented 20.28% of the entire 2017 Navy CPO selection list.

Lee developed, scheduled, and executed Battle of Midway presentations for a wide variety of military audiences over several years. Ever-expanding the program’s reach, Lee and his team provided a total of 18 presentations for 1,115 personnel in the weeks surrounding the battle’s 75th anniversary.

Lee with a hat modeled on one from the popular Harry Potter books. Its size is
due to the fact that he used it for filling all his training certificates required by
headquarters.  "They are right here," he assured everyone. 
Some attribute his success to the benign influence of a turkey sandwich, a banana, and healthy lunchtime walk, a routine that the staff has admired for many years. Not to be forgotten is his steadfast encouragement of “Aloha Friday,” which upped the fashion ante of the museum’s male contingent.

Lee has also been an unfailing source of calm and grace under pressure. As Operations Manager for the battleship, museum management knew that Lee Duckworth and only Lee Duckworth should be assigned to handle showing the battleship Wisconsin to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II, and sometime media personality. Characteristically, Lee returned from the tour with a smile and the comment, “He seemed like a nice enough fellow.” The author has relied on Lee as an honest and invaluable sounding board for every issue that the museum has faced over the past several years.

Captain Lee Duckworth’s contributions to the museum’s growth have contributed to the success of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum beyond measure. His passion, generosity, intelligence, work ethic, love of naval history, and dedication to the team is the very model of character and professionalism.


Lee (center) during an assist visit to the ship Kalmar Nykel in Wilmington, Delaware. 
His advice was sought by many, near and far. 
We have no doubt that Lee will continue to make the world a better place as he enjoys his new retirement. We expect no less from this Nebraskan, Academy Midshipman, Navy Captain, combat veteran, businessman, and educator. Fair winds and following seas!

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