Founders and Pioneers

Trailside Benches Dedicated in Memory of Sally James Bill and H. Templeton BrownBench Pix

Two people, at different times and in different ways, did much to help the Lyme Land Trust. Each has been honored with a custom memorial bench placed in a Land Trust preserve that had meaning to the person we honor. The benches are constructed of cedar by Erik Block Design-Build of Hadlyme.

Sally James Bill (1929-2010) served on the Board in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In many ways, we honor Sally’s family as we honor her. Three generations of family have served as directors – Sally, her son Fritz Gahagan and her grandson Ben Gahagan. Hundreds of acres of family-owned land have been protected with generously donated conservation easements. Sally’s bench is on the yellow trail in Pleasant Valley Preserve placed high on a ridge with a beautiful view of Lyme. For more on Sally Bill, see our 2010 Autumn Newsletter.

H. Templeton Brown (1930-2012), served on the Board from 2003-2012, mostly as Chair of the Preservation Committee. He played a critical role in the large land acquisitions of recent years. “Temp” had the ability to reach out and engage people and the patience to work with them to develop the best plan for the preservation of the land they owned and loved. The Lyme Land Trust renamed our acquisition fund the H. Templeton Brown Land Acquisition Fund in his honor. The bench honoring Temp is along the orange trail in the Chestnut Hill Preserve – overlooking a setting Temp especially loved. For more details on Temp Brown see our 2012 Autumn Newsletter.

Wood, Stone, and Water was the theme of an event on April 16, 2012 to honor three former presidents of the Lyme Land Conservation Trust: Anthony Irving, president from 1997-2004; Ralph Lewis, president from 2004-2006; and Linda Birely, president from 2006-2007. Read the article: Dinner Honors Past Presidents

Shirley Howard is to the best of our knowledge, the only remaining founder of the Lyme Land Conservation Trust. Shirley served as Secretary from 1967 to 1981. Read Shirley’s interview here.

Arthur Howe Jr. (1921-2014) was the third President of the Land Trust from 1976-1984. Read Arthur’s interview here.

Rufus Barringer (1923-2002) was the fourth President of the Land Trust from 1984-1992. Read an article about Rufus in the 2012 Spring Newsletter.

June 2007, Annual Meeting celebrates 40th Anniversary  years of Lyme Land Conservation Trust

On the occasion of our 40th anniversary celebration in June 2007, Fritz Gahagan spoke to an audience of former directors and friends of the Land Trust.

In his remarks Fritz said: “Our success did not just happen; it evolved over a long period of time. We don’t have to look far back to recall when the land trust was viewed as an idiosyncratic group of well meaning, but harmless, individuals. Wow, were they wrong! In hindsight we can recognize some of the strategies that worked and some other factors that I can only call our Lyme blessings. You, the early leaders of the Land Trust recognized that:

  • conservation action had to begin with landowners & the strong emotional tie that every landowner has with their land; and
  • that broad community support had to be built from the ground up; i.e. the hard way.”

Fritz continued “We [the Land Trust and the town of Lyme] are blessed, blessed with a number of things all of which, I believe, were necessary components of our success.

  • We are blessed with resources of national and international significance.
  • We are blessed with our landowners, who protected over 2000 acres of land, by gift, before there was ever money involved or it was the “Lyme” thing to do
  • We are blessed with two farmers who were willing to sell their development rights to preserve farmland and a way of life.
  • We are blessed with town leaders who had an open mind and were willing to see that conservation action was necessary to protect our town budgets and our traditional community values.”

Fritz concluded with: “All this resulted in something wonderful – what I call ‘community conservation consciousness’ which affirms and values the protection or our conservation resources. And so others came to live here who shared those values. Looking back these 40 years, it seems that we are blessed with a truly endangered phenomenon in the modern, east coast of the United States – a common ethos: a sense of who we are, what is important to us and, most important, a real commitment to take the responsibility to make it work – to live out our values.”

Fritz Gahagan was well qualified to address this group; three generations of his family have served as land trust directors.