Mac Burdette, head of Patriots Point Development Authority

Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, will step down in June after nine years at the helm. Provided

The leader of one of South Carolina's biggest tourist attractions is stepping down.

Mac Burdette will retire June 30 after nine years at the helm of state-owned Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The Patriots Point Development Authority has formed a committee to immediately begin the selection process for Burdette's successor.

"It has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life to have served this great institution that has touched the lives of millions," Burdette said in his letter of retirement to the board.

Burdette, the former Mount Pleasant town administrator of 25 years and retired Army Reserve officer, came to the agency at a time when it faced several huge hurdles, including the still-looming task of shoring up the hull of its centerpiece attraction, the World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown.

Through ambitious advertising campaigns, Burdette also oversaw record attendance at the tourist attraction as part of the agency's long-term business plan. He also helped to negotiate a 99-year lease to govern future development of 60 acres that will fund the restoration of the aging warships.

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"It has been said before, and often by my sainted grandmother that 'a Lady and a Gentleman should know when it's time to leave the party,'" Burdette said. "That time has come."

Perched on the edge of Charleston Harbor, Patriots Point encompasses 460 acres of state-owned land, including an 18-hole golf course. Its military museum includes other vessels, including the destroyer Laffey and submarine Clamagore.

Board chairman and attorney Ray Chandler called Burdette's plans to step down "bittersweet."

"He has given Patriots Point all of his immense energy and talent," he said. "We have been the beneficiaries of his unparalleled experience in business and government. We wish him every good thing in retirement."

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.