Spotlight on Generosity

Learn How Others Have Supported the Museum and Memorial

 View a list of all 2017 Annual Donors

Donor Feature:
Karen Herman

Karen Herman, along with her husband Mike, have been generous supporters of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. At a recent presentation to encourage membership in the Pershing Legacy Society, Karen shared a fascinating account of her father's involvement in World War I and the effect it had on him and his family. Karen has graciously allowed us to reproduce her presentation here. We feel it is an eloquent endorsement of ongoing support for the Museum and Memorial.
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Donor Feature:
Mary Shaw “Shawsie” Branton - Pershing Legacy Society

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is honored to have had Mary Shaw Branton as one of the founding members of the Pershing Legacy Society for planned giving. “Shawsie” Branton passed away on July 20, 2016, leaving a legacy of touching thousands of lives in the Kansas City area. Shawsie’s daughter, Page Reed, presented a check honoring her mother’s planned gift pledge to Ann Regnier, Campaign Cabinet Committee, and Jim Bernard, Pershing Legacy Society Committee, in December 2016.
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Donor Feature:
Jack and Trudy Gabriel

What is your main motivation behind your efforts for the Museum and Memorial?To help establish an annual event that is entertaining and inspirational and will attract members of the community not previously involved.

Why do you consider the annual Night at the Tower so important for the Museum and Memorial? The creation of Night at the Tower offers the opportunity to attract new interest in the Museum in an amazing and entertaining way. It brings valuable, additional funds, acquaints people with the Museum and may motivate them to become more involved. Kansas Citians are already proud of the Museum and an enjoyable event provides talking points for conversation among friends and associates.
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Donor Feature:
Wylie Gallery Beam Signing

On Wednesday, May 3, donors and volunteers signed the first steel beam to be placed in the new Wylie Gallery at the National WWI Museum and Memorial. With 4,000 square feet of space, the Wylie gallery will have the capacity to showcase traveling exhibitions from partnering museums around the world, and to further present the wealth of artifacts currently held in the Museum and Memorial's collection. The Wylie Gallery is currently slated to open Spring 2018.
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Donor Feature:
Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund

How would you describe the importance of the National WWI Museum and Memorial to Kansas City? The importance of the National WWI Museum and Memorial was never made clearer to me than when I attended Celebration at the Station last year. It was the first time that I attended with my husband John, who is a veteran of two branches of the armed services: the U. S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. He served from 1988 to 1997. He stood so proudly with his fellow veterans when each of the branches of the armed services was called, with the beautiful Museum and Memorial grounds behind us.
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Donor Feature:
G. Robert Hamrdla

How would you define the primary mission or purpose of the National WWI Museum and Memorial? The primary purpose of the National WWI Museum and Memorial is to foster remembrance and documentation of the Great War, while at the same time maintaining, enlarging, and refining resources and exhibitions to promote the depth and scope of that memory among the American people.
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Donor Feature:
William Chrisman and Truman High School Classes of 1965

In 1964 William Chrisman High School in Independence, Mo., had a senior class of about 800 students. The next year, the classes were split with the other half of students establishing Truman High School. Both school's classes of 1965 have held shared class reunions for the past 40 years. Their 50th reunion was held in October of 2015. The classmates explored the idea of commemorating the deceased veterans of the class after the Truman class of 1967 purchased Walk of Honor brick in memory of its veterans. At the 50th reunion, the group presented the idea and the response was immediate and incredible.
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Donor Feature:
Kemper Family

The Kemper Family has long been supportive of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. The Museum’s digitization project, an extraordinary undertaking to memorialize and share historical content, would not be where it is today without the support of the William T. Kemper Foundation. Additionally, the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation has provided a lead gift to the Call to Duty capital campaign that will support the construction of the Wylie Gallery, the Museum’s new special exhibition gallery that will open in 2018. The family’s involvement with the institution dates back to its beginning.
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Donor Feature:
August L. Huber III

As CEO of A.L. Huber General Contractor, August (Augie) L. Huber III is responsible for executive management of the firm and oversees numerous construction projects in the Kansas City area. The company was established in 1903 and the Huber Family has consistently provided strong support to many Kansas City treasures, including the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Augie grew up in Kansas City and remembers riding his bicycle to the Liberty Memorial as a boy and exploring the underground spaces where the Museum galleries now stand. He is a long-time member of the Historic Kansas City Foundation, and, as such, was actively involved in the planning for the renovation of the Memorial and the design of the expanded Museum in the 1990s and 2000s.

As a member of the Museum’s Call to Duty Campaign Cabinet, Augie continues to take a leading role in fundraising and both he and his company have made substantial monetary contributions to the Museum and Memorial’s capital campaign. An avid art collector, Augie also has personally donated World War I era posters and flags to the Museum’s collection.

Donor Feature:
Hall Family Foundation

The Liberty Memorial, built and dedicated in the 1920’s, was enhanced and rededicated on Veterans Day in 1961. The chairman of the Rededication Committee was Joyce C. Hall, founder and president of Hallmark Cards, Inc. Hall persuaded two prominent political adversaries, former Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower (both veterans of World War I), to travel to Kansas City for the rededication ceremony. President Eisenhower visited the Truman Library the morning of Nov. 10 and presided over the official rededication ceremony that afternoon, while President Truman led the Veterans Day program the next day.

The Hall family has a long history of working with and supporting the National WWI Museum and Memorial. In addition to Joyce Hall’s chairmanship of the 1961 Rededication Committee, Hallmark produced postcards featuring the Liberty Memorial. Most recently, in September 2015, the Hall Family Foundation made a substantial monetary contribution to the Museum’s Call to Duty Centennial Capital Campaign for the support of program and opportunity funds and to increase the Museum’s endowment.

The Hall Family Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the quality of human life through programs that enrich the community, help people and promote excellence.

Donor Feature:
Kay Barnes and Tom Van Dyke

Kay Barnes and Tom Van Dyke can have their pick of just about any philanthropic activity in Kansas City.

After all, the former mayor and legal legend morphed their lifelong friendship into a marriage last year of civic celebrities well known for their commitment to public service and community development.

Both are enthusiastic supporters of the National WWI Memorial and Museum, but they had taken widely separate paths toward initial awareness of its allure and its significance for the Kansas City area.

“My first memory was in 1979 after I was first elected to the city council,” Barnes says. “After our installation, we had a luncheon in one of the two original buildings (Memory Hall). I remember looking around the room and being very impressed…impressive and inspirational.”

That impression fueled her later work as mayor in supporting the renovation of the Memorial and addition of the current Museum.

Van Dyke’s introduction to the institution came in a similar manner, only many years later. It followed an invitation from restaurateur and Museum benefactor Carl DiCapo  about 10 years ago.

“Carl held a (Rotary) meeting and said if you were interested you could go to the meeting at the Museum,” Van Dyke recalled. “It caught my attention, and I thought here’s an asset for the city that is not all that well known. That’s what sparked my initial interest.”

Although close friends, Barnes and Van Dyke did not merge their Museum involvement until a couple of years ago, after their friendship had deepened and Barnes sprang something of a “honey-do” idea on him.

“I remember (Museum and Memorial President) Matt Naylor asking me to meet with him and wanting to know of others who might want to get involved. Tom and I were engaged, so I mentioned my conversation with Matt and asked Tom if he would be interested in the two of us getting involved. And Tom readily said yes.”

The result has been a generous commitment to the Museum in terms of time and financial support. They serve on the Campaign Cabinet and have made a generous pledge to the Pershing Legacy Society.

Their reasons are as varied as their lifelong accomplishments.

Van Dyke says that the institution is a perfect fit for one of his passions for charitable giving – education.

“The Museum is a great educational tool in terms of fundamental things about our society and our world and how important that world war was in shaping a lot of things,” he says. “It can teach a lot in terms of how it is organized and laid out. It’s also a great venue for events … for people to get acquainted with the Museum.”

Barnes, now a Park University professor, also cites education as one motivating factor for her interest in the Museum, and she gives Naylor and the staff high marks for enhancing the educational exhibits and programs. But, as a former mayor, she also has a civic take on her involvement.

“It is also an incredible community icon that in its own way promotes Kansas City,” she says, “and the history of how it came to be with the very rapid and unusual fundraising activity (in 1919) to get it built in the first place is part of not only its history but also a very proud part of Kansas City’s history.”

As with other elements of their museum activities, Barnes and Van Dyke have parallel and complimentary goals for the future impact of their personal and financial support.

Barnes says she hopes the Museum evolves in terms of visibility and programs.

“The upcoming two years are such an important part of World War I history,” she said, referring to the centennial of American involvement in the war. “That will be a pivotal point in the history of the Museum and position it to be even more significant in the future. The long-term success is also a priority for me.”

While echoing the programming priorities for the Museum, Van Dyke also hopes to enhance its resources for “adding luster to the Museum” through acquisition of outstanding exhibits.

"There are probably so many artifacts out there that would add to the luster of the displays and the Museum itself. If they have the resources to acquire those, I think it will be very important in terms of the ability to sustain it. I think it’s important that they modify the displays and bring in new artifacts so that people will come back. That’s a key to any Museum. They’ve got to have ‘new’ so to speak.”

That sparked an emphatic “Yes!” from Barnes.

The Pershing Legacy Society honors those who have placed the Museum in their estate plans to ensure the future of the Museum for future generations.  The Museum’s goal is to have 100 founding members by the end of the Centennial (2019). To date, there are 32 founding members. If interested in becoming a founding member of the Pershing Legacy Society, contact Debbie Bass at 816.888.8106.



Donor Feature:
Douglas Hamilton

Douglas Hamilton is a U.S. Navy veteran and retired university professor in upstate New York. Years ago he read in VFW Magazine about a proposed new museum at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, and decided to drop by on his way to Colorado. Construction was under way, and he remembers having to wear a hard hat as he walked around. 

After that visit, he became a Patron Member of the Museum and purchased Walk of Honor bricks honoring his father and his uncle, both veterans of the First World War. His uncle served in the U.S. Army and was gassed in France. His father was a machinist’s mate on the oiler U.S.S. Maumee (AO-2). During the war, the Maumee conducted the Navy’s first under way refueling (see above image). His superior officer on the Maumee was the Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Chester W. Nimitz, who became Commander in Chief of American forces in the Pacific in the Second World War.

Hamilton returned to the National WWI Museum and Memorial every Memorial Day for 14 years, bringing an American flag from his father’s grave and planting it on the lawn each year. There is a room at the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center with a beautiful view of the Museum and Memorial, and he reserved that room every year. He has donated several World War I artifacts to the Museum, including a trench knife and a bolo knife that are on exhibit. 



Donor Feature:

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) is a national organization of motorcycle enthusiasts formed to support and defend those who have served the United States as members of the armed forces in combat. Tim Coach, the CVMA’s representative in Kansas City, is employed by Results Technology, a company that provides valuable IT consulting and computer support services to the National WWI Museum and Memorial. 

This year, the CVMA held its annual convention in Kansas City. On June 26, as a highlight of the convention’s activities, the CVMA sponsored a group ride by more than 1,000 motorcyclists to the Museum and Memorial, where the motorcyclists participated in a wreath-laying ceremony.  

In appreciation of the cooperation and support of the National WWI Museum and Memorial in connection with its activities in Kansas City, and in recognition of their shared goal of honoring those who have defended our country, the CVMA made a gift to the Museum of $10,000. The Museum and Memorial welcomes the CVMA as a donor, and in appreciation of its support will install and dedicate a 16” by 16” brick in the Walk of Honor recognizing the CVMA’s visit.  



Donor Feature:

Allied Materials

Allied Materials & Equipment Co. is an American manufacturer and government contractor located in Kansas City, Mo. Among its products are flags. Allied has manufactured American flags for more than 15 years, and because the United States government is the largest purchaser of its flags, they are produced to the exacting standards of the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and the Veterans Administration. American flags produced by Allied are flown over the United States Capitol, after which they are used to commemorate special occasions or presented as gifts of appreciation with a certificate of authenticity from the architect of the Capitol.

Allied donated the flags that were displayed at the National WWI Museum and Memorial on Memorial Day 2015. In addition, Allied has agreed to make a gift to the Museum of five percent of its sales revenue generated through a sponsor code ("Museum5") entered on or through the link on the Museum’s website. The Museum and Memorial is grateful for this strong support from a local business, especially one whose product relates so closely to the Museum and Memorial’s own mission of patriotism and remembrance.



Donor Feature:

Sosland Family 

The Sosland family of Kansas City has contributed more than its share of military service to the nation. When Morton Sosland joined the U.S. Army in 1943, he was first sent to Fort Riley in Kansas and the Horse Cavalry. After basic training, he helped train American troops for combat with horses, including firing pistols from horseback. When the mounted cavalry was deactivated in 1944, he was shipped to Europe in a Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized). After a bit of the Battle of the Bulge, he crossed the Rhine with General Patton’s army. 

After the German surrender he was returned with his division to the United States and put on a train that sped nonstop across the country to the west coast to prepare for the invasion of Japan. When they arrived, they were told they would be among the first ashore, but the Japanese surrender made that unnecessary. Other Soslands who served included Mr. Sosland’s uncle, Louis, who was also in the Army during World War II, and his younger brother, Neil, who joined the Army during the Korean War.

Mr. Sosland’s father and several uncles served in the First World War. The Army made use of his father David’s agricultural background by making him responsible for all of the Army’s hay purchases. His uncles Abe and Sam also served in the war, and his uncle Sam attended veterans’ reunions for many years after the war was over.

The Sosland family and the Sosland Foundation are long-time supporters of the National WWI Museum and Memorial with Sosland family veterans recognized in memorial bricks on the Museum’s Walk of Honor



Donor Feature:

Nelson Emery

Nelson Emery lives in Sims, Arkansas. His father, Master Sergeant Marion Emery (1895-1986), was born and grew up in Story, Ark. He joined the United States Army in 1912, and retired in 1945 after defending his country in two world wars. Mr. Emery and his family have dedicated a memorial brick in honor of his father on the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s Walk of Honor.  It reads:

BORN 1895 DIED 1986

Mr. Emery’s company, Emery Fixtures, Inc., manufactured the lamp posts that now grace the streets of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. They are replicas of the lamp posts erected on the grounds of the Pan Pacific Exposition that was held in San Francisco to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal one hundred years ago. He also designed and built antique-style lamp posts for New York City. He and his family are members of the Museum and Memorial, and try to visit whenever they are in Kansas City. In 2015, they made a special visit on Memorial Day accompanied by friends and toured the Museum and Memorial with Dennis Cross, a Navy veteran, amateur historian and Museum volunteer. After the tour, Rear Admiral Stanton Thompson (U.S. Navy, retired), a member of the Museum’s National Advisory Board, presented an American flag to Mr. Emery’s grandsons in honor of their great-grandfather’s service.



Donor Feature:

Robert E. Gunter

Robert E. Gunter grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and attended Westport High School. His boyhood home was at 34th and McGee, on land now occupied by a Costco store, just down the street from the Liberty Memorial. As a boy, he enjoyed riding his bicycle to the Memorial and visited it frequently in the days before it received official recognition from Congress as the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Mr. Gunter spent his professional career at BMA, where he rose to the position of Senior Vice President.  From his office on the top floor of the BMA Tower at 31st and Summit, he had a commanding view of the Liberty Memorial and its grounds.  

Mr. Gunter died in 2015. His son Mark, Controller at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, and Mr. Gunter’s other children Mike Gunter and Eve Brown, decided to make a contribution to the Museum and Memorial in honor of their father, dedicating one of the benches on the Museum and Memorial grounds to his memory. The bench, located on the southeast lawn, has an unobstructed view of the BMA Tower, and thus was part of Mr. Gunter’s view as he looked out his office window toward the Memorial grounds.  A plaque to be placed on the bench reads:  

In Remembrance of Robert E. (Bob) Gunter, a Good Man
Honoring His Legacy of Strength and Kindness
And His Appreciation for Kansas City
Lovingly Bestowed by Mike, Eve, Mark and their Families



Donor Feature:

Missouri Veterans Commission

Missouri residents applying for a Driver’s License can contribute to a “WWI Memorial Trust Fund” by checking the appropriate box on the license application. This program, overseen by the Missouri Veterans Commission, is a welcome source of funding for the National WWI Museum and Memorial, bringing in $100,000 in 2014, its first year.  

The program was preceded by a similar program established by many states including Missouri several years ago to support the National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. When that program was overfunded in Missouri, Representative Emmanuel Cleaver envisioned terminating it and substituting a driver’s license check-off program to provide funds to “restore, renovate and maintain museums dedicated to World War I.” The new program, which was sponsored and supported by Senator Jason Holsman and several other members of the Missouri legislature, took effect last year.

The State of Missouri and its citizens have every right to be proud of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. The Museum and Memorial staff and volunteers are grateful that their pride has now taken this tangible form.



Donor Feature:

UMB Financial Corporation

UMB Financial Corporation is a long-time supporter of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Even before the Liberty Memorial was built in the 1920’s, UMB, then known as City Center Bank, was among the major supporters of the organization and early development of the Liberty Memorial Association.

When the United States entered the World War in 1917, City Center Bank was owned by William T. Kemper, a friend and colleague of Harry Truman’s father, who had been a mentor of the young Harry Truman in the early years of the 20th century. As the war came to an end the bank’s president, James M. Kemper, was instrumental in the formation of the Liberty Memorial Association, and acted as its first treasurer. His brother, R. Crosby Kemper, returned from military service in 1919, assumed the presidency of the bank, and guided it through the Second World War.

In World War II, the bank, then called City National Bank & Trust Company, continued its tradition of supporting the military, the national interest and the traditions represented by the Liberty Memorial. In 1944 alone, the bank sold more than $130 million of bonds and other government obligations and financed millions of dollars worth of government contracts in support of the war effort. In 1944, 56 employees and six bank officers served in the armed forces. Mr. Kemper made an effort to stay in touch with the UMB employees who went to war, and they in turn were encouraged to write to Mr. Kemper, sharing their experiences.  

One of UMB’s officers, Peter de Silva (above), serves as a member of the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s Board of Trustees. The bank supports a Veterans Initiative, and this year established a Veterans Engagement Task Force, designed to recruit, retain and engage veterans as employees. During Memorial Day Weekend in 2015, UMB served as a supporter of the AVTT Traveling Vietnam Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial permanently located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 


Donor Feature:

Claire Dehon

Claire Dehon is a resident of Manhattan, Kan. A new memorial brick on the Walk of Honor at the National WWI Museum honors her grandfather, Herman A. Capiau (1884-1957).  Capiau was an engineer working in Brussels, Belgium when the First World War broke out in August 1914. By the end of that month, the attacking German Army had won several battles against the Belgian, French and British defenders, leaving most of Belgium under German occupation. In the following months, Capiau was an active member of an organization that sheltered British and French soldiers trapped behind German lines and assisted them in escaping to neutral Holland. When the Germans discovered the network, they arrested Capiau and others assisting in the operation, including Edith Cavell, an English nurse working at a Brussels hospital. Cavell and four Belgians were sentenced to death. They were executed by a firing squad on Oct. 12, 1915, to widespread international condemnation. Capiau escaped the death penalty, but was imprisoned in Germany for the duration of the war. After the war, he was decorated by the Belgian, French and British governments and became a successful industrialist in post-war Belgium.



Donor Feature:

Peggy Cross

Peggy Cross lives in Olathe, Kan. Her grandfather, Fritz Plapp, was born and grew up in the small town of Kleinbottwar, near Stuttgart in the German state of Wurttemberg. He learned the butcher’s trade, and shortly before the Great War broke out, he earned his “Deutscher Fleischer-Verband” butcher’s license. When the war began, Fritz was nineteen years old and, like all German men of his age, he was mustered into the army. Shortly afterward, he posed for a full-length studio portrait in full gear: pickelhaube, uniform, boots and pack, rifle with fixed bayonet and an ammunition belt with a buckle that signified his membership in the Wurttemberg Army. The expression on his face is resolute but with a trace of uncertainty about what the future holds in store.

Little is known about Fritz’s war service, though family lore has it that he employed his butcher skills “making hot dogs for the Kaiser.” After the war he married Rose Schaefer, also from Kleinbottwar, immigrated to the United States, and settled in Kansas City, where Peggy’s father was born. In 1927, Fritz started the Superior Meat & Sausage Company (now Fritz’s Smoked Meats). He became an American citizen in 1931.

Peggy has donated Fritz’s portrait, along with his butcher’s license, passport and certificate of citizenship, to the National WWI Museum. She and her husband, Museum volunteer Dennis Cross, have remembered Fritz with a memorial brick installed this year at the Museum’s Walk of Honor. Fritz’s son, Peggy’s father Fred A. Plapp, was recognized earlier by a brick honoring his service in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War.  



Donor Feature:

Mary Shaw (Shawsie) Branton

“In 1926, I was six years old. I was excited that my father, Leslie Leon Shaw, asked me to attend the dedication of the Liberty Memorial. I was high up, sitting on my dad’s shoulders. I thought presidents would dress like kings. I was disappointed when I saw President Coolidge and said, ‘He’s not as pretty as I thought he would be.’ President Coolidge was riding in an open car and must have heard me, because he waved at me.

“This has been a very special memory for me of my father, as well as for Kansas City. Through the years, I’ve committed myself to making Kansas City the best it can be. I often think back to that special day in 1926.”

In honor of her father, Leslie L Shaw, a veteran of World War I (2nd LT. Infantry, 27th Division), Shawsie has committed a generous gift in her estate to the National WWI Museum. By doing this, Shawsie is a Founding Member of the Museum and Memorial’s Pershing Legacy Society.



             Donor Feature:

Sandra Aust


When and how did you first get involved at the Museum and Memorial?
I had the privilege of being appointed by Mayor Kay Barnes to serve on the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners in 2000. It was during that time that the plans for restoring Liberty Memorial and building a new National World War I Museum were in the critical planning and fundraising stages. The more I learned about this ambitious project, the more I wanted to be engaged and to do all I could do to support the many public and private partners in our efforts to make what we have today a reality.

Why is the Museum and Memorialimportant to you? 
I have imagined that, “If people across the world knew the ‘lessons of history’ this Museum could teach them, there would be no more war.” The Museum’s highest mission is education. We have to do all we can to ensure that is has the support and financial infrastructure to do that most important work for generations to come. 

I grew up in Kansas City and there is no finer place to reflect and to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom; nor is there a better place to see the most beautiful sunsets than from the grounds of the Liberty Memorial. Past Fourth of July celebrations on the Mall with the KC Symphony playing and thousands of people waving small American flags is something my children and I will never forget. One year, we had three foreign exchange students from France with us. As the 1812 Overture was playing and the cannons were blazing and the fireworks were exploding overhead and the crowd was roaring, one of the students looked at me and said in his best English, “You Americans REALLY love your country, don’t you?”  I couldn’t stop my tears.

The Museum tells a very important story in the history of the modern world; it reminds us to remember and express our gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for the freedoms in many other parts of the world. Perhaps most of all, it is an invaluable resource for anyone who cares to learn the lessons of history. Indeed, if we can lead our children and grandchildren to embrace those lessons, this will be a kinder and gentler world for all.

What is your fondest memory of the Museum and Memorial?
The dedication and grand opening of the new Museum stands out for me. It was the culmination of years of visionary community leadership and planning; millions of dollars in public and private fundraising; and most joyous of all, it was a cause and a project the entire city came together to achieve. Wonderful!

What do you see as the importance of the Museum and Memorial to the community and the world?
I believe the number one mission of this Museum is education. From the smallest child to the academic research scholar, this Museum is a repository of the most diverse collection of information, artifacts and materials of World War I in the world. It is the “go-to” place for learning the lessons of the history, of the life and times before, during and after the “War to End All Wars.”  That period and everything that followed has driven and formed the history of the world. It continues to do so to this very day. 

Thoughts about the Centennial Commemoration:
This is Kansas City’s, the nation’s and the world’s opportunity to shine a bright light on what I like to call our Phoenix, which has risen magnificently from the ashes…literally.  When I first saw the cavernous space below the decks – crumbling concrete columns, rusting re-bar, severe water damage from a leaking top deck, I knew this was a project we had to do and do well. A 100-year anniversary comes only once in most everyone’s lifetime. This our time to reflect, remember and to showcase our nation’s National World War I Museum and Memorial. No one else in the world has that...WE do. This is truly OUR time, Kansas City, to tell the story to the world and to invite the world to Kansas City and our jewel, our front porch, the National World War I Museum and Memorial!

Do you have a personal connection to World War I?
I have learned that we all have a personal connection to World War I because it has so greatly influenced every succeeding conflict and its long-lasting effects have permeated every aspect of society ever since. My father, two uncles and a cousin who lied about his age so he could enlist, all served in World War II. I think about them every time I pass by or visit the Liberty Memorial and Museum. It reminds me that freedom is not free, as the poet wrote. That is my personal connection.

What is your favorite object or document on display at the Museum and why?
I appreciate so many things. The collection is stunning and the traveling exhibits, which we have seen and will see in the future, are added benefits of this special place. One object that comes to mind often is the very small handgun, which is like the one used to assassinate the Archduke and Duchess. It gives me pause to think that a zealous teenager with one small gun lit the spark that became World War I. I am humbled by that and all the other amazing objects and displays in the Museum. 



Donor Feature:

Sporting KC


The National WWI Museum and Memorial is proud to welcome Sporting Kansas City to its Business Round Table. The partnership comes in advance of the second annual Truce Tournament, a special event co-hosted by Sporting Kansas City and the National World War I Museum.  

The Truce Tournament, held on the grounds of the National WWI Museum and Memorial on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), is a special commemoration of the Christmas Truce of 1914. During the first year of World War I, fighting came to a standstill on Christmas Eve. Instead of gunshots, singing could be heard from the trenches. Soldiers from both sides of the enemy line met in no-man’s land to exchange gifts and play games, including soccer in some accounts. The Christmas Truce truly showcases the humanity of those fighting and how the game of soccer brought together enemies and friends alike for a brief, albeit poignant, moment of peace.

“Sport in general, and soccer in particular, has shown time and time again to be a great unifier amongst those in conflict,” said Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman. “We’ve seen it in the Middle East, in South Africa, in the Balkans, and dramatically in France during the Great War – individuals at odds coming together to share a common spirit of love for the world’s game.  The Truce Tournament is a reminder of the power of sport to bring people together and have a lot of fun doing it. We couldn’t ask for a better partner to help tell that story than the National WWI Museum.”

This year’s Truce Tournament highlights the best aspects of soccer and history.  Participants can battle for the Truce Cup in a festive 3-v-3 soccer tournament, enjoy the English Premier League Boxing Day Watch Party with a kegs-and-eggs breakfast inside the Museum and visit the Museum galleries.  KC Crew will also be hosting the Boxing Day Brewhaha, a fun tournament of tailgate games that recreate aspects of many of the games soldiers participated in 100 years ago. These include the “grenade launch” (or bean-bag toss), “spin the Kaiser,” tug o’ war and more. A limited amount of tickets are still available for purchase at

With this partnership, Kansas Citians can expect unique events like the Truce Tournament and the Fiery Stick Open to continue for the foreseeable future. In July 2014, LiveKC, a Sporting Kansas City entity devoted to making Kansas City a better place to live, work and play, took over the North lawn of the National World War I Museum to host the Fiery Stick Open. Amidst the best views of the city, the Fiery Stick Open boasted one of the best parties of the summer with a hole-in-one shoot out, live music and lawn games. 

Through this partnership, Sporting Kansas City also hopes to capitalize on the passion and drive of Kansas City that helped bring the National WWI Museum to its current home.  

“One aspect of this partnership that really resonated with us at Sporting was the spirt of enthusiasm and optimism that the National WWI Museum represents,” said Sporting Kansas City Chief of Staff Greg Cotton. “Kansas Citians came together nearly 100 years ago and made a massive statement not only to the country but to the world:  Kansas City matters. We’re an important city on the national landscape and the world stage, and we are going to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. At Sporting, we are fiercely proud of Kansas City and the renewed spirit of entrepreneurialism and optimism that is bubbling up in our home town.  The National WWI Museum and the Liberty Memorial are symbols of that spirit and we couldn’t be happier to partner with them to help drive that message.”



Donor Feature:
Crosthwait Family 


Questions answered by Becky Mitchell 

When and how did you first get involved at the Museum?
My first visit was when my Mom took her Cub Scout Troop to the Liberty Memorial and Museum and I got to tag along with them along with my brother Joe Crosthwait. That was probably about 1957-58. Later, since my Mom died in 1999, my Dad would always visit the Liberty Memorial on Veteran’s Day and other special occasions. I tagged along with him on several of those.   
In 2007, my siblings and I bought a Walk of Honor brick to honor my Dad, Al Crosthwait, and we were all present for the dedication of the bricks that year. 

Why is the Museum important to you? 
I love how strikingly beautiful it is. I appreciate what it commemorates. I love how much the City of Kansas City loves it, too, and carefully maintains it. I hope it is never destroyed and that my grandchildren will be able to visit often and appreciate it and love it, too.  

What is your fondest memory of the Museum?
The day we showed my Dad his new brick! He was so pleased and proud!
What do you see as the importance of the Museum to the community and the world?
It reminds us of the horrible cost of war and that we cannot build a monument magnificent enough to match the sacrifice, but the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is amazing that it brings joy and heartache, a place for solitude and togetherness, respect and reflection all at the same time.

Do you have a personal connection to World War I?
My grandfather Albert L. Crosthwait served during World War I. 

What is your favorite object or document on display at the Museum and why?
Today that would be the bench that our family has sponsored in honor of my swell Dad, Albert J. Crosthwait!


Donor Feature:
Frank and Evangeline Thompson 
When and how did you first get involved with the Museum?
I first became involved with the museum in October 2006, when two staff members of the Museum came to my Overland Park Jeep dealership soliciting the donation of a vehicle. The two staff members were Patrick Raymond and Craig Antonic. Being within earshot of the conversation, I overheard the discussion and knew instantly they were getting nowhere and talking to the wrong person. I invited them back to my office to learn a bit more and within 10 minutes we made a deal.
Why is the Museum important to you?
The Museum is an important part of Kansas City’s history, but more importantly, my father was a veteran of World War I. When my father and others like him came back disabled, they were to be hidden and not seen. At the time, there were no provisions for handicaps. If they were disabled, they couldn’t have a job. If they tried to get a job, they risked their pension being taken away. It was a very sad time and in the midst of the Great Depression. I just don’t think my father or other disabled soldiers were adequately recognized considering what I saw that my father gave. Being involved with the Museum is the best way I can think of honoring my father.
What is your fondest memory of the Museum?
I have several. The first was the day I was able to drive a new Jeep Liberty vehicle down to the Museum right before it was getting ready to have its grand opening in 2006. Being able to see how the vehicle was being used by the Museum’s security staff to protect the Museum was important to me. Since then, being able to help provide additional solutions such as a 4-wheeler to clear snow from sidewalks and a golf cart to make the Museum more accessible to those that might not visit because of the distance one has to walk. Doing all of these things in my father’s honor really makes me feel good and have a big impact.
Do you have a personal connection to World War I?
Yes. My father, Lessie Thompson, was a World War I veteran. I have a connection because of the times we lived in and how I was raised. My father couldn’t work because he was disabled veteran.  My mother was the one who had to go to work. I had a great relationship with my father. Even with all the things that happened to my father, I never heard him complain once. My father would never talk about anything about the war or what he saw.  
What is your favorite object or document on display in the Museum?
Being able to bring my father’s WWI pictures to the Museum and have them on display in the Museum’s digital portrait wall is a very emotional and nice thing. I enjoy being able to stop and see his picture whenever I visit the museum. Knowing he is being recognized now rather than when he was a young man is still an emotional thing for me. I hope to someday bring down all of his pictures as well as the award that was sent to our house from Lyndon Johnson.


Donor Feature:
Harold Hall
“I’m just me,” isn’t the typical response from someone lauded for their incredible generosity. But, then again, Harold Hall isn’t your typical philanthropist.
“Giving of yourself is very important,” Hall said. “Giving your wealth is even more important. That’s really all you can do.”
True to his philosophy, Harold and his wife, Mary Ellen, plan to leave a significant donation as an estate gift to the National World War I Museum in conjunction with their foundation, the Mary E. and Harold H. Hall Foundation.
Harold’s philanthropy toward the Museum dates back many years. He initially started volunteering as a way to remain active following his retirement from the Kansas City Veterans Association in 1983. Even after thousands of hours volunteering at the Museum, Harold remains excited and proud about his involvement. 
“I appreciate very much the honor of being here,” Harold said. 
Harold’s connection to the Great War runs deeper than his volunteerism as his father-in-law served in World War I in the Army band in Alabama. A veteran of World War II along with his brother and brother-in-law, Harold served in the Army and his family’s military history spurred his curiosity to learn more about World War I.
Serendipitously, World War II played a part in pairing Harold with Mary Ellen. The couple met when they attended Northwest Missouri State University in pursuit of teaching degrees. They both started in the same class as their birthdays are only 15 days apart, but Harold returned from serving in the Army as Mary Ellen entered her senior year. They married on Aug. 7, 1948. The pair has two children, several grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 
Harold and Mary Ellen initially began the Mary E. and Harold H. Hall Foundation more than 10 years ago through Truman Heartland based on a recommendation from their financial advisor. The estate foundation is valued at $1 million and the Museum will receive a generous donation of 10 % of 5% of the estate, with the remainder dispersed to other organizations. Recognizing the importance of the Museum, Harold and Mary Ellen’s family fully support the donation as their children and grandchildren also frequently donate funds to non-profit organizations.
Because he believes so strongly in the Museum’s mission, Harold is comfortable deferring on how to use the donation.  
“As far as I am concerned anything the Museum wants to do with the donation is fine with me; pay salaries, buy more artifacts, build a new building, well it’s all alright by me.” 
Harold and Mary Ellen could have chosen to donate a portion of their estate to virtually any organization. For Harold, the choice was amazingly simple.
"The National World War I Museum is a great museum," Harold said. "And, you have to give to somebody, so why not give to the people and organizations you like?"
Individuals interested in making a planned giving gift to the Pershing Legacy Society can contact Debbie Bass at 816.888.8106 or

Donor Feature:
Missouri Arts Council 
Questions answered by Beverly Strohmeyer, Missouri Arts Council Executive Director
The Missouri Arts Council generously contributed $198,500 in support of the Museum’s Centennial Commemoration activities in 2013 and 2014. These funds supported many of the Museum’s Centennial activities, including displays for a new exhibition space on the Research Level (currently featuring a display about Thomas Hart Benton's service in World War I and the Museum’s collection of art by G.A. Wendt); performances of Journey’s End by the Kansas City Actors Theatre and UMKC in February 2014 in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium; distance learning opportunities, such as the new online exhibition War Fare, which explores the culinary history of World War I; partnerships with the Harriman-Jewell Concert Series and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and many more. 
During the Centennial commemoration (2014-19), the Museum is partnering with Kansas City’s finest cultural, recreational, and civic organizations, as well as national and international galleries and institutions, to bring our patrons the most robust and memorable experiences to depict the Great War and its era. The support from the Missouri Arts Council has assisted in bringing many of these partnerships to fruition.
Why is the Museum important to you?
The Museum connects the arts to our history and legacies. Whether it is film, music, or plays, the arts give life to our past, and meaning to our future. For example, the current display of Thomas Hart Benton’s artwork shows his significance as an artist as well as puts his work in the context of his historical and political importance.
What do you see as the importance of the Museum to the community and the world?
The Museum provides a unique and lively education experience for  the community. Locally, visitors will be moved by human stories expressed in the museum displays. The world community will be challenged and enriched by the common experience of human conflict.


Donor Feature:
Waddell & Reed
Questions answered by Thomas Butch, National World War I Museum Board of Trustees Chairman, Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. Executive Vice President, Waddell & Reed, Inc. Chairman and Vice President, Ivy Funds Distributer, Inc. CEO & President
Why is the Museum important to you?
When I was young, my grandfather frequently told stories of his having served in the Merchant Marine in World War I. I think my affinity for the Museum goes all the way back to then. The Museum ensures remembrance of the Great War and lends modern day relevance to its important lessons. It is important both as a place for telling one of history’s most important stories and provoking thought about the present and the future of the world. It has a great deal to offer to those who open themselves to it.
What is your fondest memory of the Museum?
There are so many, but I’d say my fondest was the send-off of the “Honoring Our History” 18-wheeler, which was a mobile museum that traversed the country telling the story of the Great War and the Museum, and connecting with local institutions across the U.S. for joint programming and fund-raising. I’d had the great fortune, thanks to Waddell & Reed, to be involved in the creation of the 18-wheeler and the tour, and seeing it come to fruition was incredibly gratifying. In truth, I create a new memory every time I visit. I always find something I’d missed on previous trips and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a great many outstanding people at the Museum. This year, I felt the Memorial Day celebration was especially compelling and, at a personal level, it was capped off for me with the placing in the Walk of Honor the brick I bought to honor my dad.
What do you see as the importance of the Museum to the community and the world?
We are incredibly fortunate in Kansas City to be home to a museum with a national designation.  This is a great honor and a great source of civic pride. As the Centennial observation unfolds over the next many years, we have the opportunity to make the Museum a global focal point of that remembrance. We have a responsibility to tell the story of the Great War in a compelling and relevant manner. The world will be watching.


Donor Feature:
Randy Sandy
When and how did you first get involved at the Museum?
I became involved with the Museum in 2001-02 as a member of the steering committee for the reopening dedication committee. In 2005, I was asked to serve on the permanent Memorial Day committee. My role was to ensure that there would always be a color guard ceremony at all official services like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.  Being in charge of the color guard ceremonies requires me to “call the commands” whenever the national anthem and taps is played.  
Why is the Museum important to you? 
Two reasons really. The first reason is a personal one. Before being deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, I was given a small folded pocket flag by a group of young marines stationed in Independence, Mo. I always carried that flag in my pocket. For medical reasons related to an anthrax vaccination, I had to be medevac-ed out of Afghanistan to Landstuhl, Germany and ultimately to Walter Reed Hospital.  Three hours into my flight to Walter Reed Hospital I died and had to be revived. I realized at that time that it wasn’t my time to die and also that God had put in my heart that he wanted me to do whatever I could to help and honor veterans. Since that time I have distributed similar folded flags as well as flag shadow boxes. I enjoy distributing them at military ceremonies and have been very proud to lead the color guard ceremonies.
The second reason the Museum is important to me is that I enjoy history. I really enjoy discussing history with my grandkids. They enjoy seeing the Renault French FT-17 tank, which they originally thought was an American tank. A lot of people don’t realize funding for the Liberty Memorial in the 1920s  was, in large part, from   contributions of Kansas Citians and not from state or federal coffers.  
What is your fondest memory of the Museum?
On Memorial Day in 2010 at Museum, I personally made and presented a special shadow box containing a folded American flag for Debbie Drexell, a Gold Star mother who had lost a son in Iraq. This is typically a duty handled by a local member of Congress  or another state representative, but on this day, I presented it, which was a very moving experience. I stayed in touch with Debbie and during a routine phone call from her she surprised me one day by saying that today would have been her son’s 30th birthday. While making small talk, I shared that I had for some reason been finding a lot of dimes around lately and had just picked up a dime that day. As we continued to talk, I shared the year printed on the dime. To both of our surprise, the dime I had I found on that same day was the same year of her son’s birth. Both of us felt that this was a very special message.  
Another favorite moment was making a special set of round World War I dog tags and a shadow box for Mr. Frank Buckles, the last remaining American doughboy from the Great War, for his visit to the Museum. After presenting Mr. Buckles with these items, I presented him with a folded American flag and saluted him. The photo for this article is from that same day.
What do you see as the importance of the Museum to the community and the world?
To me personally, the Museum and Liberty Memorial honor all veterans, not just those who served in the Great War. Liberty Memorial  represents a permanent way of saluting all veterans of all wars. This is a terrific memorial and the Museum tells a great and meaningful story.
What is your favorite object or document on display at the Museum and why?
My favorite picture of the Liberty Memorial was painted by Michael Young depicting 4th of July fireworks over the top of the Liberty Memorial. This painting is in my personal collection and is at my home. My favorite object on display at the Museum is the Renault FT-17 French tank. It is meaningful to me because of my trip here with my grandkids and was something that really interested them.I have a special remembrance of getting to teach my grandkids more information about the tank.


Donor Feature:
Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation


Questions answered by Kay Callison, Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation President
Why is the Museum important to you?
The National World War I Museum is part of Kansas City’s history and commitment to making our community a better place to live, work and enjoy the many amenities, rich heritage and opportunities for learning. The Museum “tells an important story” as part of our nation’s history.
What is your fondest memory of the Museum?
Many years ago, I was invited to tour the storage area below the main floor exhibition area to see the tanks, planes, first aid wagons and other large objects. This gave me a better perspective of the equipment used during World War I and how technology has changed the face of war time equipment.
What do you see as the importance of the Museum to the community and the world?
The Museum tells a unique story and the exhibits demonstrate that war should be avoided if possible. Diplomacy, communication, sanctions against aggressors and aid (humanitarian, economic, political guidance and educational assistance) can be used to help nations and strife.


Donor Feature:
Greg Galvin
When and how did you first get involved at the Museum?
I became involved in March 2007. I visited the new museum with my parents. I was so impressed I decided I wanted to be part.
Why is the Museum important to you? 
First, I’m a big WWI enthusiast. I find the changes that occurred, both on leading up to the war and afterwards, to be linchpins for today. The story the Museum tells is also important. And not just from the military perspective. The social aspects, many which we continue to deal with today, are most interesting to me.
What is your fondest memory of the Museum?
I have several and all revolve around visitors. One day a man told me his uncle was the Kaiser’s baker. Seeing that he looked to be my age, mid-50s, I questioned his claim. It turns out this man’s father was the youngest of 18 children and the oldest brother was the baker, so the math worked. Another time, I was approached by a man who was standing on the glass bridge and was crying. I asked him if he was okay and in a choked voice, he told me he hadn’t thought of his grandfather for years. But standing on the bridge and seeing the poppies below, made so many memories flood back into his mind. He recounted that when he had been young his grandfather had lived in the same house. His grandfather had lost an arm, an eye and a lung to a gas attack in 1918 along the Western Front. It encounters like these that I remember most.
What do you see as the importance of the Museum to the community and the world?
First, it brings people to Kansas City. They see what a great city it is. Secondly, the Museum offers many perspectives on the history of the times. I’d like to think that each visitor walks out with a special memory and connection because of their visit.
Thoughts about the upcoming Centennial Commemoration:
I hope that any commemoration is neither too boisterous nor too solemn. I hope that honor is paid to all who took part; at the front and on the home front.
Do you have a personal connection to World War I?
Both grandfathers served. I bought Walk of Honor commemorative bricks for them almost a decade ago.
What is your favorite object or document on display at the Museum and why?
My favorite item is the large map in the East Gallery. I love to explain the connections and disconnections between the countries and discuss consequences of promised made and broken.


View past donor spotlights.