Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner presented the second annual Governor's Heritage Award to a Millsboro man who has spent the past 30 years of his retirement working towards preserving the First State's history.
Lewis (Skipper) Purnell, 83, was honored on Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, for his volunteer contributions in supporting and safeguarding Delaware’s heritage.
"Skipper has a genuine affection for his native First State and its citizens," said Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. "He is a tireless advocate of promoting Delaware’s unique treasures, whether they are its physical buildings and artifacts, or the state’s beautiful natural resources."
Purnell was presented his award during a plaque unveiling ceremony at Delaware Public Archives, a state-of-the-art facility that he played an instrumental role in gaining support for the building’s construction.
He was one of the founders of the Friends of Delaware Public Archives and he has been a principal member of the Delaware Heritage Commission, a board he recently retired from after serving many years.
This former United States Department of State official is on the State’s Museum’s Collection Committee, and served several stints on the Preservation Delaware Board.
Purnell is a longtime member of the Delaware Humanities Council, the Historic Records Commission, the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation, the Council of Libraries, and the Archeological Society of Delaware, and the League of Women Voters -- serving as the group’s International Affairs chairman.
Purnell worked as a Foreign Service officer for 30 years before his retirement. He and his wife, Til, lived in several oversees cities including Tokyo, Milan, London, the Philippines, and Jamaica because of his government work as an "Asian expert" before returning to his home state in 1976.
He served in World War II in the American Field Service agency and is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University. Purnell is the son of the late Delaware State Senator Harold W.T. Purnell, a prominent member of the General Assembly in the 1930’s.
Purnell was originally recognized as the recipient of this year's Governor's Heritage Award during a Delaware Day celebration in December.