CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Marvin VanGilder thought of himself as a storyteller.
“He had a wonderful storytelling voice; one you would want to listen to,” said Ron Petersen Sr., the owner of KDMO radio station in Carthage, where VanGilder’s stories have broadcast for 31 years. They’re so popular, in fact, that they still air at 7:55 a.m. weekdays.
VanGilder died Sunday night at the age of 83. He is remembered for his contributions to local history preservation and the Jasper County Archives, to Carthage civic organizations and events, to radio and to newspapers.
Whether it was “The Big Blast at the State Line” about a fireworks accident or “The Farm Hand Who Saw Stars” about the life of astronomer Harlow Shapley, VanGilder’s life’s work was documenting local history.
In addition to the radio program scripts, VanGilder wrote books. One, a comprehensive history of Jasper County, was published in 1995 to coincide with the county’s 100th anniversary observance.
His “Big Blast” and “Farm Hand” stories are among the 700 scripts he wrote for his “Moments for Remembering” radio show. The stories were from throughout the region.
“Primarily he did a great job with his ability to write and voice his own scripts,” said Petersen, who counts himself as a personal friend of VanGilder’s as well as a professional. Even though the programs recount happenings of the past, “the programs are very timely. He had a special talent in that way,” Petersen said.
VanGilder said himself in a 1984 story that appeared in the Globe that “I like to think of myself as a writer of history. A storyteller.”
VanGilder, born Sept. 24, 1926, in Lamar, had a varied career. He attended Drury College in Springfield where he was drawn to radio when the college established the first campus radio station in the nation. He became a licensed minister in 1946 after working as a student pastor during college.
He taught English, history and music for a number of years in area schools and then took a job as a disc jockey and sportscaster at KDMO in the mid-1950s, where he was promoted to news director. He later was the editor of the Carthage Press newspaper.
He served on the Carthage Board of Education and also on the boards of a number of civic organizations including the Red Cross and United Way.
VanGilder’s work “meant an awful lot because he served Carthage in so many ways,” said Mayor Mike Harris. “He will be sorely missed.”
Much of VanGilder’s interest in history and Carthage focused on the Battle of Carthage, fought on July 5, 1861, and believed to be one, if not the first, of the earliest ground battles in the Civil War.
He worked with other local historians and history re-enactors to help establish the Battle of Carthage Civil War Park and he started an annual Vesper Ceremony there on the battle anniversary. This year his failing health prevented him from conducting or attending the ceremony and other volunteers took it up on his behalf.
Harris commended VanGilder’s efforts in documenting the area’s history and establishing the Vesper Ceremony.
VanGilder maintained and researched many of the sole sources of information he used for his history pieces. His book on county history, “Jasper County: The First 200 Years,” contains a substantial account of the Carthage battle.
Preservation and public access to his materials was the reason the Jasper County Commission created the Jasper County Archives, according to Steve Weldon, the archivist.
VanGilder was a champion of local history, Weldon said. “He deserves a great deal of credit for all he did for the community.”
Arrangements are to be announced by Knell Mortuary.
Listen to “A Moment for Remembering,” Marvin VanGilder’s longtime radio feature that explores the history of Southwest Missouri, weekdays at 7:55 a.m. on KDMO 1490-AM.
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Marvin VanGilder thought of himself as a storyteller.
- Local News
SWEPCO files for rehearing in push for original line route
Southwestern Electric Power Co. on Friday filed a petition for rehearing of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, which authorized the company last month to construct a transmission line in Northwest Arkansas. The route also would traverse 25 miles of Barry and McDonald counties in Missouri, but that would require approval by the Missouri Public Service Commission.
Medicaid expansion unlikely this session, local lawmakers say
Despite calls from Gov. Jay Nixon and others, Medicaid expansion isn’t likely to be approved in this session of the Missouri General Assembly, several local lawmakers said Friday. The prediction came from Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, and other local representatives who spoke at a gathering for which the Webb City Chamber of Commerce was the host.
Cottey College fundraising campaign tops $40 million
The recent conclusion of a five-year campaign has netted a total of $40.4 million in cash, pledges and estate gifts for Cottey College. That amount tops the goal that campaign leaders had set and is the largest sum ever collected in the college’s 130-year history, campaign manager Carla Farmer said.
Housing Authority resident homicide victim
A close friend discovered Jerry D. Loflin deceased inside his apartment Thursday morning, and a few hours later police confirmed that he had been murdered. The 65-year-old resident of the Joplin Housing Authority’s Bartlett Hills complex on the southwest side of the city was well-liked by neighbors.
“He was a real nice man, a generous man,” Frank Norris said. “Always friendly.”
Cancer patient, doctor, lawmaker laud chemo-pill cost equalizer
About a year and a half ago, Carl Hayes was diagnosed with melanoma cancer — but he considers himself fortunate. A short time before his diagnosis, an oral prescription medication was developed to specifically target melanoma.
Little-library-movement story a ‘page-turner’ in Pittsburg
Nancy Drew and Harry Potter took up residence Friday next to Krista Postai’s house, but they likely won’t be there long. Postai, host for one of three new Little Free Libraries in Pittsburg, invited the several hundred Lakeside Elementary students who helped fill it with its first books to come back and take one any time they feel like it.
Bill Reiboldt says farm background gives him insight into key ag issues
For 40 years, Bill Reiboldt has operated a farm north of Neosho, and until he recently sold 125 Holsteins, Reiboldt said his favorite part of farming was running a dairy operation. “My farming operation was always in the dairy business,” Reiboldt said. “I loved it. Sometimes you get a little older and you need to make a change. We just sold the milk cows and kept the farm.”
Two Crawford County bridges to close on Monday
On March 17, weather permitting, the Kansas Department of Transportation will begin a project to replace two bridges on K-126 in Crawford County, Kan.
Students design shelter for use after disasters
When Austin Leake was a child, he built things out of Legos and designed his own treehouse. Cody Frieden traveled abroad for mission trips and helped repair flood-ravaged homes in the U.S. Now, the two Pittsburg State University senior construction engineering students have teamed up to design and build something that has global applications during or after a disaster: a rapidly deployable transitional disaster shelter.
MSSU Zumbathon to benefit scholarship; annual assistance goes to cancer-affected students
There was a time once when Charlotte Hopper’s life was dictated by pain, diagnoses and treatments. But not now. Hopper, a technical writer for Leggett & Platt Inc. and an English instructor at Missouri Southern State University, will participate today in the second MSSU Zumbathon, which is a fundraising event for the Charlotte Olinger Hopper Scholarship.
- More Local News Headlines
- SWEPCO files for rehearing in push for original line route