SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Association will install Southern California Lincoln enthusiast Bob Willard as the organization's new President for a two-year term during the annual Abraham Lincoln Association (ALA) Symposium Banquet on Monday, February 12 in Springfield. Willard will succeed Springfield's Kathryn Harris, who will complete her two-year term that evening.

“I’ve been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln ever since I was a teenager, and I believe he continues to have much to teach us,” Willard said. “I am extremely honored to be chosen to lead the ALA, an organization with a rich history of celebrating Lincoln’s legacy and advancing our understanding of his life.”

Willard is a long-time member of the Abraham Lincoln Association and has studied and collected Lincoln material for more than 60 years. In 2005 he completed his own personal Lincoln pilgrimage, starting at the 16th President's Kentucky birthplace and four weeks and 1,000 miles later, ending his journey at Springfield's Lincoln Tomb.

Willard is a retired executive with experience in the corporate, non-profit, and government sectors. He is a Vietnam Veteran and a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the George Washington University School of Business.

Willard will be installed at the same event that features a keynote address by Richard Carwardine, author of the new book Lincoln's Sense of Humor.

The February 12 banquet is one of many activities scheduled each year to commemorate Lincoln's birthday. The annual Abraham Lincoln Association-Benjamin Thomas Symposium begins Sunday, February 11 at 6 p.m. in the Old State Capitol Hall of Representatives with author and Lincoln historian Guy Fraker of Bloomington, who will speak about his new book, Looking for Lincoln in Illinois: A Guide to Lincoln's Eighth Judicial Circuit. The Symposium resumes at 11 a.m. Monday, February 12 with Kate Masur, who will talk about John E. Washington, the first African American to publish a book on Lincoln. University of Illinois Springfield professor Michael Burlingame will speak on other African-Americans in Washington, DC who knew Lincoln. The Symposium luncheon on February 12 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library will feature Jason Emerson, who will discuss “Mary Lincoln for the Ages: She is not the woman we think she is.” Emerson's new book is Lincoln in Love: Poetry by, for, and about Mary Lincoln, and his talk will include themes from the book.

The Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium is co-sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The University of Illinois Springfield, The Old State Capitol State Historic Site, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. For more information about the Abraham Lincoln Association, visit www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org.

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