Veteran Ellicott City community volunteer Ed Lilley announced Saturday that he would be resigning his post as Welcome Center manager for Howard County Tourism, effective immediately.
"After 44 years on Main Street this has been one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make," Lilley wrote in an email.
He has been a familiar face in Ellicott City's historic district since 1969, when he started work at an insurance agency with his father. From 1987 to 2001, he owned a year-round Christmas shop on Main Street called The Christmas Company. He has been the manager at the Welcome Center for more than 6 years and a volunteer there for even longer.
Lilley, 66, wrote that he had resigned his position "as I feel that it is in [my] best interest to do so." Neither he nor tourism board members would elaborate on the details of the resignation.
Howard County Tourism President Brock Yetso called Lilley "an institution.
"He's done an amazing job," Yetso said. "We're certainly sad to see him go and we wish him the best."
Howard County Tourism CEO Rachelina Bonacci said Lilley "devoted so much heart and soul" to the Ellicott City community. "That's his passion," she said.
Lilley will still frequent Ellicott City. He's a member of the Ellicott City Historic District Partnership board, an organization formed this summer to improve and promote Main Street and the rest of the historic district.
"Rest assured that I will still be in town as often as I can be, just not 5 to 6 days a week," Lilley wrote.
Lilley said he would also be taking a cashier position at Wegmans.
Bonacci and Yetso said they were considering the next steps for the Welcome Center, which may or may not include hiring a replacement for Lilley.
The tourism office has "experienced a significant amount of growth over the last few years," Yetso said. "While you never want to see people go – especially great ones like Ed – it certainly forces you to take a step back" and reexamine the position, he said.
Bonacci said the tourism board and officers would be looking to tourism offices in nearby counties for ideas.
"Certainly our welcome center is super busy" and needs some management, she said.
With his resignation, Lilley "leaves a hole that is a big one to fill," Yetso said.