The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher’s Joplin visit stuff of lasting impressions

JOPLIN, Mo. — Although her time in Joplin was just a few hours in early February of 1996, Margaret Thatcher made a lasting impression on those she met.

Thatcher, who died Monday at 87, accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at the Freeman Quality in Medicine Award ceremony at the Holiday Inn Convention Center. More than 1,000 people attended the invitation-only dinner to listen to Thatcher talk about the state of the world and her enduring relationship with former President Ronald Reagan.

“It was very exciting for me to hear her,” said Paula Baker, president of Freeman Health System. “She had a very compelling presence. Her talk was just phenomenal.

“I was very easy to talk with her. She was very gracious. She had a great deal of charisma and many exceptional leadership skills.”

At the time, Baker was in charge of Ozark Center, the behavioral health arm of Freeman Health System. Baker was impressed with the resolve of Thatcher, the first woman to head a European government.

“One of the things that strikes me about her was that she paved the path for women to become leaders across the world in both government and business,” she said. “Her courage and resolve were things that I respected.”

Thatcher was escorted the night of the dinner by Kelby Krabbenhoft, former president of Freeman Health System, who is now with Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“That was one of the more lasting and impressive engagements in my life,” Krabbenhoft said in an email interview. “She told me, ‘Consensus, Kelby, is the absence of leadership.’ I never forgot it.”

After observing the members of Thatcher’s security detail, Krabbenhoft noted that they stood behind her.

“I said to a security guy, ‘It was obvious who had her back, but who had her front?’” he recalled. “He said to me, ‘The Lady has her front!’ Never forgot that either.”

Thatcher said she decided to accept the invitation to speak because of her background in medical research. She said small towns, like Joplin, “offer the greatest sense of community and the greatest sense of service.”

While at Oxford University, Thatcher studied under Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, a British chemist and Nobel laureate who unveiled the structure of penicillin and advanced on a massive scale the use of antibiotics.

Gary Duncan, who became president of Freeman Health System after Krabbenhoft, said he found Thatcher to “be fairly formal in a British sort of way, but very kind. She obviously enjoyed doing what she was doing.

“During the dinner, it was very interesting to listen to her talk about herself and Ronald Reagan, and the relationship they had. It was a very interesting speech.”

Paul Zagorski, a professor of political science and international relations at Pittsburg (Kan.) State University, said Thatcher and her relationship with Reagan would ultimately make the world a safer place.

“Dealing with both Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, she dealt with one of the most serious issues of the 1980s — what would become of the Soviet Union,” he said. “There were those who feared that the Soviet Union would collapse and possibly start World War III to save itself.

“Thatcher convinced Reagan that Gorbachev was somebody the West could deal with. What we take for granted now was a much different world in the 1980s. That all came to a peaceful end, and she played a role in that process. She contributed to making the world a safer place.”

Jim Hounschell, now a security officer with the Joplin School District, was working the security detail with the Joplin Police Department the night of Thatcher’s visit. Hounschell, wearing a black tuxedo, was photographed with Thatcher and Krabbenhoft. The photo appeared the next day on the front page of The Joplin Globe.

“She was the most famous person I have been photographed with,” Hounschell said. “All I really remember about it is that we tried to provide her with really good security while she was in town.”

Hounschell said the department worked with Scotland Yard to make sure her visit to Joplin would be without incident.

“I remember riding down the elevator with her,” he said. “She didn’t talk to me or her two security people that were with her. She did not say anything. She commanded such respect, I would have not felt comfortable chit-chatting about something with her.”

Hounschell said Thatcher went from her room at the Holiday Inn to a banquet room to be photographed with the people who had put the event together. After that, she went back to her room for a spell before attending the dinner. After the dinner and spending about six hours in Joplin, she was off to Atlanta, Ga.

‘A presence’

PETE HALL, manager of Joplin’s Residence Inn, said a suite at the Holiday Inn was named after Margaret Thatcher. He said employees at the Holiday Inn at the time of her 1996 visit told him: “She commanded a presence — no question about it.”

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r071114redoak2.jpg Red Oak II: Lowell Davis’ ‘dream, art, love’ and final resting place

    The collection of buildings would become a town (though he didn’t intend for it to, and it has never been officially recognized either by the U.S. Postal Service or the state of Missouri).

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • r072514schoolhouse3.jpg VIDEO: Full of history, one-room schools focus of preservation by local groups

    The old Kings Prairie school sits on a narrow Barry County farm road, surrounded by quiet fields and farmland.

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072314girlgunclub3.jpg Women's league offers practice, social opportunities for gun owners

    The objective for some is to improve their skills for target or competitive shooting, the league's website says. Others, while wanting to improve their skills, also are interested in aspects of self-defense.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072414trainwreck2.jpg Train crash a century ago among area’s worst disasters

    Burk Johnson had been threshing wheat near Joplin when his newlywed son and daughter-in-law picked him up and took him to Joplin’s Union Depot to catch the evening train home to Neosho.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • 072614 Faith 2.jpg Rich Brown: McDonald County Children's choir combines music with a gospel ministry

    The McDonald County Children's Choir may entertain a lot of people, but the hope is that it will bless even more through its ministry, according to choir director Amber Nelson.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Appellate court upholds class-action status for Picher residents

    An appellate court upheld a 2013 ruling on Thursday that a class-action lawsuit brought by former residents of Picher, Oklahoma, against a Tulsa-based appraisal firm involved with the buyout of property in the city can proceed.

    July 25, 2014

  • 1717 Marketplace developer faces more federal charges

    The developer of 1717 Marketplace in Joplin has been indicted with more bankruptcy fraud charges, in addition to those leveled against him last year for a series of bank fraud and wire fraud schemes that totaled more than $3.3 million in losses.

    July 25, 2014