Elliott Levy is leaving his position as executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum.

“I'm retiring by May 31,” he said. “I'm 67 years of age, and I want to take my wife to see the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Yellowstone without having to use a walker. I can do that now, but there are no guarantees that I will be able to do that three years from now, four years from now or five years from now.”

Owen Clary, who is the chair of the Aiken County Historical Commission, which oversees the museum, announced Levy would be leaving his post after the Historic Aiken Foundation presented its annual preservation awards on Sunday afternoon at the museum. Clary, who also is the foundation's president, praised Levy for transforming the museum into a “vibrant part” of the community.

“We regret that Elliott is retiring; he has been a wonderful museum executive director for us,” Clary said. “The year before he came here, we had only 9,000 visitors at our museum. Last year, we recorded almost 25,000 visitors at the museum.”

According to Clary, Levy told the Historical Commission two weeks ago about his decision to retire.

“I've done what I was supposed to do, which was to set up exhibits, improve public relations and make the museum a place that people would want to come to,” Levy said. “The Historical Commission had a list of things that they wanted done, and I found that list about a month and a half ago. Everything on the list was done during my first two years here.”

Levy has been the museum's executive director sine 2007. He came to Aiken from Maine, where he had served as the executive director of the Poland Spring Preservation Society, which maintains the Maine State Building and All Souls Chapel.

In Aiken, “I've had the freedom and the flexibility to do the things that I felt were important for the county to represent its history,” Levy said. “We've made several DVDs, and we've received a lot of recognition. We've also gotten of lot of parts of Aiken County involved in the museum. It used to be that people would come to Aiken and go to the museum after doing other things. Now, they go to the museum first. It's become an attraction, and that's good for the community.”

Clary announced that a search committee would be formed to find a replacement for Levy.

“We'll be trying to get someone to fill Elliott's shoes, but no one can fill Elliott's shoes,” Clary said. “We will certainly be leaning on him for some consulting work in the future.”

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard.

and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.