Robert Stephan (Bert) Lustig, civic activist, avid fly fisherman and fly tyer, award winning woodworker, gardener, environmentalist, and white water canoeist died last week at the age of 76.
Lustig was fishing in the North Branch of the Potomac River near Barnham, West Virginia when he suffered an apparent heart attack. He was airlifted to a medical facility in Cumberland, Maryland and then to one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he died two days later.
Lustig was an active defender of Morgan County’s natural beauty, joining forces with other citizens throughout the years to defeat developments that threatened its environment.
Just last month, he helped lead a successful citizen opposition to a proposed 360 RV development at Cacapon State Park by Blue Water Development.
Lustig was born in Plainfield, New Jersey.
He attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania and got his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Maryland.
He moved to Morgan County in the 1970s to pursue his woodworking. His woodworking won awards and has been displayed around the country.
He met his wife Patricia Graybeal when they were both workshop instructors at Davis & Elkins College during the Augusta Heritage Arts Festival.
“He was teaching woodcarving and I was teaching hand paper making,” Graybeal said.
Lustig won many juried exhibitions for his furniture designs and wood turnings.
He was active with the Morgan County Solid Waste Authority, serving for a time as its chairman.
Lustig and Graybeal ran Berkeley Springs Bookstore for ten years.
“We started by selling books around town,” Graybeal said. “We started at the Rag Shop. Then we eventually moved into a store in Berkeley Springs and opened Berkeley Springs Books. We ran it for ten years.”
“Bert was an avid gardener,” she said. “We have about 40 acres here and he has kept it beautifully with native plants.”
“He was also an avid whitewater paddler. He could roll the boat. He designed a canoe seat saddle yoke that was beautiful to look at and it became a carrying yoke to carry the boat on your shoulders. He got a patent for that.”
His civic and environmental activism was well documented in letters to the Morgan Messenger and articles in Morgan County USA. A quick search finds Lustig challenging, in addition to the proposed RV park at Cacapon State Park, the proposed potting soil facility in Morgan County, the Paw Paw medical waste incinerator, U.S. Silica’s efforts to move mine blasting closer to Berkeley Springs, and the proposed upscale development of Coolfont by the Carl Freeman company.
Lustig was also involved with the extension of the Western Maryland Rail Trail through Morgan County and served on the board of the C&O Canal Association.