NEOSHO, Mo. — Crowder College will honor Mort Walker, the late creator of the "Beetle Bailey" comic strip, during the 76th anniversary of Camp Crowder.
“The 76th anniversary of the Camp Crowder dedication is a very fitting time for us to honor Mort Walker,” college President Jennifer Methvin said. “He brought notoriety to the camp and the area as a great American artist and veteran."
The event will be held at noon Thursday, with speakers beginning at 12:20 p.m. in Wright Conference Center at Crowder College.
Walker’s most popular work, "Beetle Bailey," was created in 1950 and set at Camp Swampy, a fictional Army station that was inspired by his time at Camp Crowder in the 1940s. In 1943, when he was 19, he was at Camp Crowder before being drafted in the Army and working overseas in Naples, Italy.
Upon his return to the U.S., Walker earned a degree in humanities at the University of Missouri, graduating in 1948. He died Jan. 27 at age 94 at his home in Stamford, Connecticut.
According to its syndicate, King Features, more than 200 million readers enjoy "Beetle Bailey" every day in 1,800 print newspapers, including the Globe. Walker also produced several other comic strips, including “Hi and Lois,” a "Beetle Bailey" spinoff that appeared in more than 1,100 newspapers.
“This event will provide students a glimpse of his background and role in social commentary through the 'Beetle Bailey' comic,” Methvin said.
During the anniversary celebration, Keith Zoromski, social science division chairman, will talk about Walker’s legacy, including his connection to Southwest Missouri, and provide social commentary and historical background on "Beetle Bailey." Other speakers include Cindy Branscum, former director of institutional advancement; Rodney Bechdoldt, member of the Neosho Boy Scout Troop 34; and Kay Hively, local historian and author of "Red, Hot and Dusty."
According to the Missouri secretary of state, Camp Crowder was a military installation named in honor of Maj. Gen. Enoch H. Crowder, provost marshal of the United States during World War I. By 1942, the first soldiers arrived at the Signal Corps Replacement Training Center at Camp Crowder and were trained in 40 military communications specialties, including radio, radar, telephone operation and maintenance.
The camp was established in 1942 and is located in Neosho.
Crowder College will dedicate a newly purchased section of Mort Walker’s private scrapbook and conversations as well as copies of "Camp Swampy" and "The Best of Beetle Bailey." They will be housed in the Herb and Barbara Schade Rare Books Collection inside Lee Library. After the dedication, a moment of silence will be observed in Walker's honor.