In Memoriam: Remembering Ruff Fant

L to R: Susan Fant; Ruff Fant; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Charles, the Prince of Wales; Erin Mast (March 2015).

By Richard Moe

We were saddened to learn of the passing of President Lincoln’s Cottage Chairman Emeritus Lester “Ruff” Fant III a few days ago. To honor his memory, former National Trust for Historic Preservation President and President Lincoln’s Cottage founder Richard Moe provided the following words of remembrance:

This past week we lost a great friend and preservationist, Ruff Fant. It is a tragic loss for his wife Susan and their son Henry, his daughter Delia and son James, other family members, and countless friends. Ruff’s passing is also a huge loss for President Lincoln’s Cottage, where he was Chairman Emeritus, as well as for many other organizations which he served, including the American Battlefield Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt University, and more. For me, Ruff was a treasured friend for the quarter century that I knew him, right up until our last conversation two weeks ago. His leadership qualities were incomparable, and nowhere did he demonstrate these more effectively than at the Cottage, which he led as Chairman of the Board for nearly a decade. He had tremendous wisdom, energy and patience, and he had the rare gift of sensitivity and respect for everyone sitting around the table, with his southern grace, subtlety, charm and — unforgettably — wry humor. He never failed me or the Cottage when we needed him, and I will miss him more than I can say. Ruff was a son of Mississippi, but he was also a citizen of a much larger world which he cared about and did so much to advance in the name of our shared values. His legacy will live on through the Cottage and its mission.

Richard Moe is the Founder Emeritus of President Lincoln’s Cottage and President Emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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