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Frye quits as APCWS president

August 12, 1998

Dennis FryeBy GUY FLETCHER and TERRY TALBERT / Staff Writers




Dennis E. Frye, who earlier this year was relieved of the day-to-day control of the Hagerstown-based Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, has resigned as president of the organization.

Frye's resignation from the group, which has been heavily involved in the promotion of the area's Civil War heritage, is part of a reorganization intended to "bring additional focus to the association's charge of Civil War site acquisitions," APCWS said in a news release.

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Frye said Tuesday he hadn't seen the press release and didn't know what that quote meant.

He said the decision to resign was "100 percent my decision."

Frye said he resigned on July 24 for three reasons.

"First and foremost I want to return to my profession as a historian," he said.

Frye said he wants to write a book on Stonewall Jackson's capture of Harper's Ferry, W.Va., which he has researched for the past 20 years.

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Second, Frye said he wanted some time for himself. "The position I have has literally owned me," he said. "It's a 60- to 70-hour a week job."

Third, Frye said he wants to get married in October. "I had been married to the APCWS," he said.

Frye said that within a week of his resignation, APCWS hired him as a paid consultant to work with state and federal governments on legislative issues, make professional appearances to push for battlefield preservation, and to do programs for the association at its request.

Frye said his was not an acrimonious parting. "I'm thrilled with my decision and hopeful of the continued success and future of the organization," he said.

The 13,000-member organization has helped to protect 6,117 acres of Civil War battlefield land in 12 states at a cost of nearly $15 million in its 11 years of existence.

Frye is a founding member of APCWS and was instrumental in moving the association's headquarters from Fredericksburg, Va., to his native Hagerstown in May, 1996.

Since then he has been involved in many local projects, including helping to organize a Civil War history convention and the re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam. Both events were held last year.

Frye also played a key role in convincing the producers of the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals" to film the motion picture in Washington County. Production is to begin next year.

Frye stopped handling day-to-day operations of the APCWS in April in what he said was a decision made by him and other officers as part of the overall reorganization of APCWS.

Those duties were assumed by Robert Edmiston, who previously was director of real estate for the organization.

In early July, Alan E. Hoeweler, chairman of the board of trustees, said the organization improperly took the lead in last year's re-enactment and lost money from the event that drew an estimated 100,000 spectators.

"That's not our task to promote Hagerstown," Hoeweler said at the time.

That comment irked some local officials, because they agreed to lease office space to the organization for $1 a year, with the understanding that APCWS would help promote the area's Civil War tourism industry.

Both sides made up at a meeting in City Hall later in July.

Frye said his resignation should have no effect on tourism efforts in Washington County or on the filming of "Gods and Generals."

Frye's resignation shouldn't affect the association's contractual obligation to help promote Civil War-related tourism in Hagerstown, said City Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein, who is a member of the APCWS board.

Hoeweler could not be reached for comment on Frye's resignation.

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