Find out about the transfer of this local museum.
On Tuesday afternoon, a large step in the completion of the General John J. Pershing Museum and Leadership Archives was taken. Pershing Park Memorial Association President Bob Devoy signed the paperwork to transfer ownership of the site to William J. Bryan, Director of Missouri State Parks.
“I am thrilled to death with this transfer, but our work isn’t done,” said Devoy. “We have a lot more to do. We are looking at making the water tower look like a cruise missile. A lot of people have worked hard on these projects, and Jim Tollerton is working on restoring a World War I ambulance. Walt Disney drove an ambulance like the one we are working to restore.”
Bryan notes that the museum, and its acquisition, is a gift to the people of Missouri.
“It’s a gift to the people of the State of Missouri,” said Bryan. “Without the help of the Pershing Park Memorial Association, and the leadership of Judge Devoy, this wouldn’t be possible. We wouldn’t be able to take something like this on with our budget, without the efforts and development to this point. The Association has been here for nearly a century, and they’re going to continue working.”
For Denzil Heaney, Administrator of the Pershing Boyhood Site, this day was an emotional experience.
“I’ve fought back the tears, thinking of the people who had passed away before the signing,” said Denzil Heaney, Administrator of the Pershing Boyhood Site. “We have to keep going forward, this isn’t the end, but the beginning. We made a big step in getting this building, and a bigger step in signing it over to the state. Now we have to keep working to build that lasting memorial for General Pershing in Laclede.”
The Pershing Park Memorial Association was formed in 1931, and the Pershing site was visited four times by Black Jack Pershing before his passing.
“I got interested in General Pershing when I was 10-years-old,” said Devoy. “My father took me to the train station to meet him, and I got to shake hands with him. Lafayette Moore got me interested in this place when I was in the Legislature. I introduced the bill to move the statue to the home, and we put the Wall of Honor around it.”
For Bryan, being a part of Pershing’s legacy, though this acquisition, is a humbling experience.
“It’s remarkable to be a part of the legacy of Black Jack Pershing with the acquisition of this museum,” said Bryan. “It’s humbling to be able to help tell his story, and preserve his legacy here in Laclede, and here in Missouri. We do a great job of this at the Boyhood Home and the Prairie Mound School, but this will make things even better. That’s one of the best part of being Director of State Parks, is being able to work with communities, and Missourians who want to help protect our heritage.”
For Heaney, he will use the site, and the completed museum, to continue his mission of education.
“One of the things I always talk about is that my goal is to educate and inspire,” said Heaney. “As long as we can continue to do this with young minds, and help them to realize how his story still holds impact today. General Pershing came from humble beginnings, and through circumstance, triumph, and tragedy, he rose to become the General of the Armies of the United States.”