Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

National Park Service historian honored by Carlsbad Hall of Fame

One of the newest inductees into the Carlsbad Hall of Fame said he was a mediocre history student during his youth in Carlsbad.

But in his later years, Dwight Pitcaithley became a noted national historian and professor.

Pitcaithley was inducted Saturday along with artist Gary Niblett as the first inductees of 2023.

During his induction speech Pitcaithley talked of how he earned “a well-deserved D” from Carlsbad High School teacher Connie Chapman.

More:Pitcaithley, Niblett join Carlsbad Hall of Fame

During the 1970’s he recalled attending a class reunion and meeting up with his former high school history teacher.

“I was pursuing my doctorate (history degree) at Texas Tech and I told her I was working on my doctorate and she was very pleased,” he said.

Audience members chuckled when Pitcaithley said Chapman hid her surprise of his work in attaining an advanced history degree.

He became the chief historian of the National Park Service (NPS) in 1976 and retired in 2005.

A year later he accepted a history professor job at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces where he taught for nearly 15 years.

Another Hall of Famer, Dr. John Andrews, said Pitcaithley wrote a number of books dealing with specific historical topics in various times of US history.

“Dwight is now one of the most important historians in the country. He’s done significant work about the Civil War, about racism and what is being done today to address the problems we’re all facing,” he said.

“Dwight is helping us to understand how we got to where we are and he’s helping us find ways in addressing the problems that we now face,” Andrews added.

More:Lynne Pitcaithley inducted to Carlsbad HOF

Pitcaithley joins late mom in Hall of Fame

Lynn Pitcaithley was inducted into the Carlsbad Hall of Fame in 2019. She was an actress, educator and animal rights supporter during her life in Carlsbad.

“It’s a huge honor, my mother was inducted a number of years ago,” Dwight Pitcaithley said before his induction Saturday.

“I know a lot of people in that room. I really enjoyed participating in her’s (induction ceremony),” he added.

John F. Andrews (left) and Dwight T. Pitcaithley listen to a speech during an induction ceremony at the Carlsbad Hall of Fame.

Pitcaithley said he was “moved” when asked about his induction into the Hall of Fame.

He graduated from Carlsbad High School in 1962 and enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in Portales as a music major.

“You have to be really good as a music major,” he said.

He enlisted in the military in 1964 and his three-year stint changed his mind about education.

“All of that made me a more dedicated student,” Pitcaithley said. “Carlsbad was a special place to grow up.”

More:Visit the Carlsbad Museum, Carlsbad Hall of Fame today

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.

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