Karl Lehr: A legacy of honor, commitment, and generosity

Long time Civil War Round Table of Eastern Pennsylvania member Karl passed away at the age of 93 on February 19, 2009. Karl led a full and distinguished life. Born in Allentown, he was a 1936 graduate of Muhlenberg College. During World War II, Karl held the rank of Technical Sergeant and was a part of history during three major invasions. As a member of the First Signal Detachment on the USS Ancon, flagship for the landing at Omaha Beach, he was at Normandy on June 6, 1944. He had also taken part in the earlier landings at Sicily and Salerno, Italy in 1943. Karl later became Sergeant of the Eiffel Tower Guard and was a staff member of the U.S. Army University in England. Post-war he was a Fulbright teacher in Cologne, Germany in 1957-58 and his teaching career in New Jersey and Illinois spanned 42 years.

Karl joined the Civil War Round Table of Eastern Pennsylvania about 30 years ago. He immediately became an active member serving on numerous committees. He was also a field trip co-chair and submitted items to our newsletter. Karl was generous in many ways including his time and knowledge. He spoke to our group on the subject of “From Pea Ridge to Atlanta” and became part of a Resource Committee of members who volunteered to speak to outside groups or share knowledge with those who needed assistance in a quest for information. He served on our Board of Directors and as such helped form our Preservation and Restoration Committee in 1983. Round Table records show Karl’s commitment to historic preservation through signed petitions to save the Grove Farm at Antietam and monetary donations to various organizations as threats to our historic sites became known.

Karl may have left us, but his legacy of honor, commitment and generosity remains. His financial legacy to the Civil War Round Table of Eastern Pennsylvania is the amazing amount of $123,955.31! The Board of Directors and the Preservation and Restoration Committee, led by Jack Minnich, determined to honor Karl in the best possible way and that is to further the cause of historic preservation. Consequently, we have added to Karl’s legacy for a total of $128,000.

That money will be distributed by the Round Table in Karl’s name to the following organizations:

Central Virginia Battlefield Trust
$53,000 to help save 93 acres on the Wilderness Battlefield.

Richmond Battlefield Association
$53,000 to help save 13 acres at Fussell’s Mill and 4 acres at Malvern Hill.

Civil War Preservation Trust
$22,000 to help save 10 acres at Manassas.

These three organizations have a proven track record in successful historic preservation as well as the efficient use of donations. In many cases they have entered into cooperative agreements. They are not competitors, but kindred souls serving a common cause. One result of their success is the ability to obtain matching grants. Because of those matching grants, Karl’s gift to the Round Table has grown to $463,000!!!! We can think of no better way to remember and honor Karl Lehr than to preserve and protect the historic legacy of our nation for future generations.

The Civil War Round Table of Eastern Pennsylvania, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed in 1978 dedicated to serving the broad community’s education needs concerning the American Civil War and to historic site preservation. Since its inception and prior to Mr. Lehr’s gift, over $120,000 (not including matching funds) has been raised to support numerous preservation and restoration projects. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the Civil War. Our membership of over 175 consists of students, scholars and “just people” interested in learning more about the Civil War. Dinner meetings are held monthly from September through June in Allentown, PA. and include a speaker on various topics of interest to Civil War/American history enthusiasts.
For more information, contact Jeff Gates at (610) 966-5773 or by email