Volume 74, Number 43 | March 02 - 08, 2005


Robert Lord, 87, led restoration of Sheridan statue

Robert Lord, left, with former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern with time capsule at statue rededication in Christopher Park in October 2000
obert W. Lord, who launched the private campaign that led to the restoration four years ago of the statue of the Civil War hero General Philip Sheridan in Christopher Park, died in St. Vincent’s Hospital on Feb. 21 at the age of 87.

He was in declining health for some time and died of respiratory failure, said his wife, Barbara.

As a descendant of a patriot who fought in the Revolutionary War as well as of four veterans of the Civil War, Robert Lord belonged to the Sons of the American Revolution and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

He was also a Mason.

A Village resident for 37 years, he began a five-year campaign for the restoration of the Sheridan statue and raised $6,000 in private and corporate funds for the work and started a maintenance endowment.

His direct connection to General Philip Henry Sheridan was through his grandfather and great-grandfather, who served under the famed Union cavalry officer. Two other forebears served with other Union leaders.

At the rededication of the statue on Oct. 19, 2000, where descendants of both Union and Confederate Civil War veterans joined the then Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, Robert Lord invoked the memory of his grandfather Francis Buffum, a young soldier from New Hampshire who lay wounded at Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 and saw Sheridan ride past on his black horse, Rienzi, to rally demoralized Union troops and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

At the rededication ceremony, Lord presented a time capsule to Stern with the names of 128 contributors to the restoration fund. The capsule was buried at the foot of the statue with the first time capsule buried at the first dedication in 1936.

Jonathan Kuhn, director of antiquities at the Parks Department and a West Village neighbor of Lord, remembers the collaboration that began in 1996 when Lord first wrote to Stern about restoring the statue. “His campaign dovetailed with our targeting the statue as being in need of restoration,” said Kuhn. “Bob was co-chair of the Oliver Tilden Camp No. 26 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and organized a grassroots campaign. Typically, we go to foundations for funding, but this was mostly $25 donations — the largest was $1,000,” Kuhn added.

Robert Wilder Lord was born May 14, 1917, in Keene, N.H., the son of Alice Buffum Lord and Edward Lord. He graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1939 and became a writer and editor who worked for many years on trade journals covering the insurance and welfare benefits business. He was the author also of a book on how to run meetings.

His wife Barbara, his daughter Rowena Soteros and granddaughter Catherine Soteros and his sons, Robert, Jr., and Richard, survive.

The funeral was at Reddens Funeral Home on Feb. 25 and burial will be in Fitzwilliam, N.H., on May 14, his birthday.

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