On the Passing of Buzz Carnahan

By David J. Kent

Washington, D.C.

Saturday, September 10, 2022



We were all shocked and saddened yesterday by the news that long-time Lincoln Group of DC member Burrus "Buzz" Carnahan has passed away. He had been battling some health challenges lately and did not recover from his recent surgery. Buzz will be sorely missed.


On a personal note, I met Buzz at my very first Lincoln Group meeting in January 2012. He was serving out the last few months of his second time around as president of the group, having stepped in during a time of need. Buzz emceed that meeting as he had done many times before, and graciously welcomed me to the world of Abraham Lincoln.


Over the years it became clear that Buzz was one of the sage mentors of the group, along with such noted names as Edgar Russell, Paul Pascal, and later, John Elliff and Karen Needles. He provided a historical memory of critical importance to keeping the group going. He and his wife Lucinda Stewart maintained a recurring presence at our monthly dinner lectures and other events. During COVID, he joined our ongoing monthly book study forum after it shifted to a Zoom-based format, thus making it more accessible to a wider participation. Buzz's deep knowledge of not only Lincoln but the early history of the framing of the United States government was invaluable to our discussions.


That knowledge came from his long service as a foreign affairs officer. He also served for twenty years as a judge advocate in the Air Force, where he specialized in the law of war. He was an associate professor of law at the Air Force Academy, where he developed the school's first program on the law of war. He received an LLM from the University of Michigan and a JD from Northwestern. Among his noted publications is his book, Act of Justice: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War. In addition to his long service with the Lincoln Group of DC, Buzz was also on the Board of Advisors of the Lincoln Forum.


As the current president, I've been lucky to have had some dedicated and knowledgeable leaders come before me. Presidents like Buzz, Paul, John Elliff, Karen, and John O'Brien - along with the equally dedicated Board members and the active participation of all members - are what makes the Lincoln Group of DC such a special organization.


Our hearts go out to Buzz's wife Lucinda and his family. We join you in both grief at his passing and in celebrating his life knowing how much that life has meant to our organization.


More information on memorial services will be emailed to members as it becomes available.