Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

W&L Marks Centennial of President Custis Lee's Death Today, Feb. 18

Today, Feb. 18, 2013, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of George Washington Custis Lee (1832-1913), who served as president of Washington and Lee University from 1871 to 1897. He succeeded in that office his father, Robert E. Lee.

A commemoration will be observed at Lee Chapel today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A spray of flowers will be placed at Lee’s grave in the family crypt in Lee Chapel, and a pamphlet written by Judi McParland, a former guide at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield and an admirer of Lee, will be distributed to visitors. The pamphlet commemorates his life and accomplishments.

Lee graduated first in the class of 1854 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served in the Confederate Army as a captain of engineers and worked as a military advisor to Jefferson Davis. Union troops captured him during the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, three days before the April 9, 1865, surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

After the war, Lee taught at VMI, and became president of Washington and Lee after his father’s 1870 death. He donated many of his family’s treasures to the University, including the Charles Willson Peale portrait of George Washington that hangs in Lee Chapel today.