Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield announced the retirement of longtime superintendent Theodore “Ted” Hillmer effective January 3.
Hillmer, who retired after a 44-year career with the federal government, came to WICR as superintendent in 2003 and served in that position for 16 years.
Hillmer earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Environmental Science/Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He previously filled a variety of roles across the park service including as a deputy superintendent, chief of facility management, and park engineer. His past duty stations include the NPS Denver Service Center, Big Bend National Park, Colonial National Historical Park, NPS Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, National Capital Regional Office, NPS Midwest Regional Office, and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He also previously served with the Naval Space Command at Dahlgren, Virginia, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Some of the notable projects for Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield under Hillmer’s leadership include a multi-million dollar renovation currently underway at the park’s Visitor Center. The construction, scheduled to wrap up in late 2020, includes development of almost 2,000 square feet of exhibit space to spotlight artifacts from the park’s museum collection. Hillmer also facilitated the purchase of the Dr. Thomas Sweeney collection, including artifacts, land, and structures that are significant acquisitions for the park.
Hillmer oversaw continuation of agreements with Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation, including partnering with the Foundation to plan an educational summer camp for youth, and the Arts in the Park program. He led the park in developing the memorial luminary driving tour, a popular annual event with volunteers setting out 2,539 luminaries – one for each of the soldiers from both sides killed, wounded or missing at the 1861 Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
Hillmer headed up the park’s role in supporting sesquicentennial celebrations for the State of Missouri and oversaw the reinterment of Confederate soldiers’ remains at the National Cemetery in Springfield.
The park under Hillmer’s leadership also has been involved in many projects to improve land and resource management, including State of Missouri Conservation easement development, agreements with the U.S. Forest Service, installation of an apple orchard and corn field, purchase of adjacent land with historic significance related to the battle, and an agreement with the Watershed Center to restore historic landscapes and construct a trail to Colonel Sigel’s first position.
Hillmer also spearheaded a sustainability initiative to save funds and resources in the park and at the national level. He published three booklets for the National Park Service on Sustainability.
Hillmer said he has depended on the support of many others at Wilson’s Creek over the years.
“I worked with a great staff and great volunteers that made me look better," he said. "With them, I strove to create a legacy for the park and enduring memories for our more than 220,000 visitors annually. I also worked to motivate staff in the mission of educating visitors about preservation of this great cultural resource.”
Gary Sullivan, Chief of Resources at WICR, is serving as acting superintendent, pending selection by the NPS Midwest Regional Office of a long-term replacement in that role.
Administered by the National Park Service, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield preserves the battlefield, commemorates the battle, and educates the public about the Civil War west of the Mississippi River. The site is southwest of Springfield at Highway ZZ and Farm Road 182. For more information, call (417) 732-2662 or visit www.nps.gov\wicr.