Congratulations To Our 2014 Heritage Award Winners

Congratulations To Our 2014 Heritage Award Winners

The Museum of Western Colorado’s mission is to help our community preserve our heritage and tell our story. There are many people in the community who assist us with this very important job. In January we put out the call for nominations to help us identify people and organizations that have contributed significantly to preserving and protecting our local heritage. The response we received was incredible and we are very thankful to the many people who came forth with nominations for our 2014 Heritage Awards.

At the Museum of Western Colorado’s Annual Meeting the following people/organizations were honored for incredible contributions:

Historian Award – This award recognizes distinguished and long-term contributions by an individual, group or organization to the public understanding and appreciation of Mesa County and Western Slope history.
David Sundal
Debbie Brockett
Garry Brewer

George Callison Paleontological Award  – This award recognizes distinguished and long-term contributions by an individual, group or organization to the public understanding and appreciation of Mesa County and Western Slope Paleontological heritage.
Charles Safris

Heritage Enterprise Award – This award recognizes a business enterprise that has made distinguished and significant  long-term contributions to the preservation of Mesa County’s heritage.
The Bacon Family Foundation
Grand Junction Subaru

Museum Service Award  – This award recognizes meritorious efforts by an individual, group or organization in support of the Museum of Western Colorado’s mission and vision.
Legends of the Grand Valley
Western Colorado Chapter Territorial Daughters of Colorado
Marie Tipping

Preservation Award – This award recognizes distinguished and long-term efforts of an individual, group or organization to the preservation of Mesa County’s architectural treasures.
Gateway Canyons Resort
Kristen Ashbeck
Tim Gasperini

Our congratulations and thanks go to these special individuals and organizations that contribute so much to our quality of life in the Grand Valley!

Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Friday, November 1
Daytime programs: 1 – 5 pm • Evening performance: 7 – 9 pm

Saturday, November 2
Daytime programs: 10 am – 5 pm • Evening performance: 7 – 9 pm

Whitman Educational Center  •  4th and Ute, Downtown Grand Junction

The first weekend in November is approaching and that means it’s Cowboy Poetry Time at the Museum of Western Colorado! We are trying out some new ideas this year and hope you’ll stop by to share in the fun. For instance, this year’s daytime programs will feature themed sessions. Each performer will be asked to come up with poems and songs that fit into the theme. Here are some examples of what we are thinking.

“The First Cowboy Poem or Song I Ever Learned” should stir up some fond memories and may include a few surprises! Two performers have requested that we include a “Long Poems” session as they have been working hard to memorize some epic recitations. We can kick back with a cup of coffee and cheer them on! We also plan to include a “Fond Memories” session to recognize the wonderful performers who have moved on to greener pastures but left us a legacy of great poetry, music and friendship. Many other fresh ideas are in the works, so be sure to check out our schedule as the date draws nearer and settle in for some down home entertainment.

This year’s performers will, of course, include all of our local, talented folks. Al Albrethsen and Ray Lashley are our esteemed elders. They are both over 90 and have better memories than many of us! Our contingent from the lower Valley includes Tom Sharpe and Terry Nash, who both live in Loma, the ever favorite Fruita-ites cowgirl singer Peggy Malone, and this year’s Fruita Fall Festival Grand Marshal Donny Wynkoop. Everyone loved singer/songwriter Deb Bukala from Glade Park who joined us last year for the first time so we’ve invited her back. Slim Farnsworth brings his special appreciation for the classics and his own brand of humor from Cedaredge. And from Mesa comes the one-of-a-kind Nona Kelley Carver who is always a treasure.

Newcomers and out-of-towners include another favorite singer/songwriter from Evergreen, Suzi Knight. We’ve invited long-time open session participant Megan Bell to join us as an invited performer this year. Floyd Beard is planning to come all the way from Ramah (this is a test of your Colorado geography knowledge). We sure enjoyed him a couple of years ago. Then all the way from Montana, we are welcoming for the first time Almeda Bradshaw.  She comes highly recommended by our regulars Terry Nash, Peggy Malone and Suzi Knight! From Dove Creek, we are inviting Tim Krebs who participated in open sessions last year, and was recommended as a featured performer by Ray Lashley. We also hope that our wonderful reciter of classic poetry from Utah, Jerry Brooks, will be able to join us this year. And, as always, we will have open sessions for those brave souls who wish to come up on stage and share a poem, song or story about our western heritage.

We are also excited about another new addition to our gathering this year! Programs will take place at the fabulous new main library at 5th and Grand. On October 9th, Tom Sharpe, Donny Wynkoop and Al Albrethsen will join the regular Poetry Club get-together at 6 pm. We are rounding up a special performer for the Neighbors Read program for children at 6:30 pm on October 15th.

October 31, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, those interested in learning about writing cowboy poetry can participate in a writing workshop that will be led by Donny and Tom. Pre-registration is required for the workshop so visit the Library’s website here to sign up.

Whew! We have a lot going on and are working hard to make this year’s gathering one you won’t want to miss. For further information please contact Ronna Lee Sharpe at 970/361-1136 or email her at

Guess Who’s Coming to Cross Orchards this September!

Have you ever wished you could step back in time and meet some of the characters who made Colorado’s history so exciting? This September you will have the chance to do just that as 2013 Two Rivers Chautauqua brings four fascinating folks to life. Imagine, being able to hear “first hand” about the life of Leadville’s Unsinkable ‘Molly’ Brown, a woman of legendary fame in our state. Who doesn’t have a question or two they’d like to ask of Theodore Roosevelt, outdoorsman, conservationist, President, Nobel Peace Prize winner and bigger-than-life icon who spent a good amount of time in Colorado? Otto Mears, whose name is nearly a household word here in the Grand Valley, will share his life as a builder of roads and railroads in the most challenging places that shaped our state and made it possible for it to flourish. Diego Martín, a composite character representing the rich history and legacy of el vaquero, will relive the glory days of the Spanish cowboy.

All of these characters will be brought to life, portrayed by professional actors who have a wealth of performing experience. And you, the audience, will have many ways to enjoy the experience. Two of the characters appear each night on the Friday and Saturday evening programs. First, the audience is treated to a wonderfully engaging first-person portrayal of the character. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt actually comes to our stage and shares his story and his life with us. Later, we are given the rare opportunity to interact with the former President, maybe ask him what he liked most about hunting in Colorado. But it doesn’t stop there. We also have a chance to talk to the actor who portrays the character, to ask him or her why he chose that particular person, how he learned about them and what it takes to bring the person to life and to the stage. All in all, it is a wonderful way to learn about history and to feel that we are all a part of our state’s story. An added bonus is the portrayal by Grand Valley Young Chautauquans of characters they admire. We will have more information about them next month.

This year is an especially exciting one for Two Rivers Chautauqua. Over the years, we have asked for suggestions about what type of programs the audience would like to see. Over and over we heard that it would be great to showcase our own state’s history. So this year, the committee decided that is exactly what the program should do. All of the characters have played a part in the history of our nation, but most exciting for us are the roles they have played in helping to shape Colorado’s rich and colorful history. Plan now to join us this September 13 and 14 as Cross Orchards Historic Site comes alive with the stories and characters of Colorado Riches! A Wealth of Early Colorado History.

Read more about the event and characters here.

The webpages will be updated as schedule and additional details unfold.

An Accomplished Ute Maiden

An Accomplished Ute Maiden


Edith Leroy Richardson

Each individual who researches and writes about someone from the past, finds as you read their diaries, letters, newspapers reports and comments the long decreased start to speak to you about their life and deeds. You hear a kind of small quiet whisper in your heart and mind of what they want you to write and tell the current generation.

Today I would like to share with you the life of a Ute Princess, Edith Leroy Richardson, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Where she was raised, things she learned, and the ideals she carried throughout her life.

It was in Grand Junction at the Park Opera House (present location of the Museum of Western Colorado between 4th and 5th Streets on Ute Ave) on Tuesday, May 29, 1900.

The DeLong brothers, Horace T. and Ira M., had just held their oratory contest. There was a large group of students from the Grand Junction High School competing that night. Awards were given to the boys and another to the girls for oratory and elocutionary skills.

After considerable deliberation the first place prize for the boys was awarded to Walter White for his speech by Patrick Henry on “Give me Liberty or give me Death.” The first place prize for the girls was presented to Miss Edith L. Richardson. Her oratory was declared to be the best recitation given in the city on the story of “the Sioux Chief Daughter.”

As reported in the Daily Sentinel: Edith was dressed in Indian costume as would befit the daughter of a chief, with her black hair hung straight and confined only by a narrow band at the head.  It was said that those who had never heard her recite were surprised at her elocutionary ability. Edith held her audience spellbound from the time she came onto the stage until her recitation was finished. Every expression of her face, every motion of her body and every tone of her voice was in strict accord with the subject of her recitation.

So impressed with her presentation and costume, local photographer Frank Dean took a series of photos for a national photo contest. From this event in Grand Junction, Edith was offered many generously attractive offers to go onstage, but she thanked all, but persisted in finishing her education before choosing a life work.

How did an Indian Princess come to live in Grand Junction, Colorado?

Here is the rest of the story.

Edith Leroy Richardson was born July 13, 1881 in Springville, Utah at the home of Melvin and Louella Wood Haymond. She was the daughter of Kate Aldura Richardson and Charles Leroy Parrish. During her life she was always welcome in the Haymond’s home and during her working and retirement years she would return as often as she could to be with the family. Edith and the Haymond’s daughter, Vera, were like sisters and remained so until death parted them in 1977.

Edith went to kindergarten in Springville; the rest of her elementary education was from private tutors on reservations where her mother’s work had taken them. Her later education was in Teller Indian Institute and Grand Junction High School.

Captain Theodore Lemmon, the superintendent of the Teller Institute would drive Edith to and from the Indian School to Grand Junction High School, on the corner of 6th and Rood (present site of the Mesa County Courthouse). A student at the time at Grand Junction High School, Pearl Smith (Ross) commented that Capt. Lemmon would drive his buggy with a high stepping team of horses to the high school. And it was his habit of walking with Edith up the long stairway of the school, buggy whip in hand.

During this time Edith was in the Indian School Mandolin & School brass band. It was said the school band was so good that the local Grand Junction Musician’s Union members complained to the government that the Indian School was taking paying jobs away from them because of the free concerts given by the students.

Also, at the same time as Edith’s win at the Park Opera house, some of the Teller Institute students and staff died of Typhoid and Rocky Mountain Fever. A problem caused by bad water and sewer systems. Two of the students, Peter Armell, age 17 and Samuel Shem age 12 were buried in the Teller Institute Cemetery. Miss Lue H. Childs, a young Teacher also passed and her brother had her body shipped home to Chicago Junction, Ohio. This may have influenced Edith to pursue a nursing career later in life.

About 1903, after high school, Edith began work as an assistant to the Reverend Milton J. Hersey of the Episcopal Church at the Uintah Reservation, Fort Duchesne, Randlett, Utah; she described the condition of the hospital at Fort Duchesne as being extremely crude, with only one hospital ward for all patients. Men, women and children were all placed in the same room, sanitation was lacking, and Henry B. Lloyd M.D. was the only Doctor at the fort. The hospital was understaffed and overworked.

After serving at Ft. Duchesne for a few months Edith made up her mind to attend nursing school in Portland, Oregon where she completed her courses at Good Samaritan Hospital in 1908. From 1909 to 1920 Edith served as a private duty nurse and then went back to Ft. Duchesne to work until 1922.

Edith mentioned in her diary that she had a personal acquaintance with Chipeta, wife of Chief Ouray. She told the story of Chipeta coming to Fort Duchesne, nearly blind and Edith had helped to nurse her. She describes Chipeta as warm, friendly, and cultured. In about 1921, a friend of Edith’s from Grand Junction, William Weiser came and took Chipeta to St. Mary’s Hospital where surgery was performed on her eyes.

It should be noted that William Wesier was the nephew of William Moyer, owner of the Fair Store.

Edith worked at San Francisco General Hospital and Eugene, Oregon from 1922-25 and updated her nursing skills with each assignment.

Kate, Edith’s mother, was not in the best of health, so in 1925 Edith returned to Ft. Duchesne to be near her mother, who passed away in 1927. Edith stayed on at Ft. Duchesne until 1930 when she accepted a position at the Yakima Sanitarium for Tubercular patients in Toppenish, Washington. As a nurse there she contracted the disease and from September 1930 to February 1933 she was on compensation leave while she regained her health. After that time she moved to the Haymond home in Salt Lake City.

In 1937, with Edith’s health fully regained, she left Salt Lake City for an assignment to the Klamath Agency in Oregon, then to Warm Springs, Oregon, then to Ponca City, Oklahoma at the White Eagle Pawnee Agency, where she worked until her retirement in 1950. She then returned to Salt Lake City to be with family, and her adopted Sister Vera Haymond.

While Edith never married, she did fall in love with a Doctor Eli Abraham Kusel of Oroville, California. She would vacation in Oroville and those were some of the happiest times of her life. Edith’s love letters from 1942 and 1943 are in her files at the University of Utah. In her papers, many times Edith repeats that the greatest mistake of her life was she did not marry Eli, and he never married either. Eli died in 1947 in California, and left Edith a diamond ring as a remembrance of his love. He also left her a $1000.

In Edith’s diary where she kept her innermost thoughts, are Frank Dean Photos of the Ute Maiden, Captain Theodore Lemmon, and her mother Kate. Also in the diary are the Delong Speech contest story at the Park Opera House in 1900, her love letters to and from Eli A. Kusel and the love for the place she grew up, Grand Junction, Colorado. This was her home.

Edith was very interested in furthering the cause of women in the work force, helping some to gain an education, and sharing her talents. She was active in the retired Government Employees association, a native member of the Utah’s Art Center and a world traveler for the Business and Professional Women’ Club. She went to places like Germany, Cuba, and Hawaii, attending many national meetings for the club.

Edith was passionate about promoting the standards of Indian women in education, for which she received from the Department of Interior in 1950 an honor award and once again in 1964 for meritorious service for nursing to the Indian Service.

It was said that Edith was a quiet person, regal looking in her smartly tailored clothing. She was remembered by her friends as one who always had a matching hat for each outfit and when she spoke she commanded attention for her wisdom and understanding of situations, never speaking ill of anyone.

One of her many talents was decorating banquet tables for 20 to 300 people. Many organizations called upon her for their banquets, she would always tell them, “Oh I have the right things in my attic for your particular theme.” Her skill and arrangements were breath-taking.

Just before her death, Edith had broken her hip and was in St. Joseph Villa; the ladies of the Business and Professional Women’s club would visit and ask if they could pick her up and take her to the women’s lunches. Edith would say “I don’t believe I can go today, but soon we may be able to go out for lunch again”

That day never came. Edith Leroy Richardson died on March 16, 1977, in Salt Lake City.

She had moved on to solve “The Great Mystery” as she called it. Edith was 95 years, 8 months old. The Little Ute Princess of Grand Junction, Colorado was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, in the Haymond Family Lot, in Springville, Utah.

So if you’re on 6th and Rood some quiet morning where the old Grand Junction High school was and you hear the sounds of a high stepping horse team, a snap of a horse buggy whip, foot steps of two persons; an old man and a young woman, going up what is now the courthouse steps, it’s just might be Captain Theodore Lemmon bringing the Ute Maiden, WE-TA-LE-TA, Edith Leroy Richardson to high school for her lessons.

Garry Brewer

Story Teller of the Tribe, Finder of Odd Knowledge, Uninteresting Items, A Bore to his Grandchildren, a Pain to his wife on spelling, but a Locater of golden nuggets & truths and pearls of wisdom.

January, 2012 Grand Junction, Colorado

Photos: Museum of Western Colorado, Loyd Files Room, Michael Menard, Grand Junction News, Daily Sentinel files, Snap Photo, Dean Photo, Wanda Allen, Lo Anne Curtis, Richardson Family Researcher, Krissy Giacoletto, Special Collections Department  J. Willard Marriott Library University of Utah, Valeri Craigle, University of Utah ,Access Technologies Librarian, Teresa Tipton, Buildings and Ground, Executive Secretary, Springville, UT, Mrs. Pearl Ross, Teller Institute History, Martha Louise Hurst, An Indian Saga, Floyd A. O’Neil. Interview of Edith Richardson and Journal of the Western Slope summer 1993, vol 8, no.3, Lorrie Sheley R.N. Grand Junction Regional Center, LPT Program Coordinator

Local Lore: America’s love affair with cars has its local heartbeat

From Grand Junction History in Pictures “The first automobile show in Grand Junction was in May, 1926. It was in the Lincoln Park Auditorium (later mistakenly called the barn). Some familiar cars are shown. The Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Dodge and Buick brands are still with us. Hudson, Nash, Studebaker and Willys were large manufacturers of the time, but exist no more.” (Dean Studio Photo)

The love story for so many of our full-of-memories generation is connected to a favorite auto. An automobile allows us to soar imaginatively “like an eagle,” with an excuse of practicality and need. We all have our reasons for owning a vehicle that fits our needs or desires, whether it be an off-road four-wheel drive for providing that trophy deer for sustenance for the family, a many-seated van for transporting family and friends, or a compact for saving money on a shoestring budget. Some may even have the luxury of owning a fully remodeled antique or a sporty two-seater. Westerners, in particular, are dependent on their wheels. As most of our readers can appreciate, driving 500+ miles to and from Denver in a day is not extreme. Read more here.

Thanks to the Beacon Senior News and Sandi Cameron for sharing!

Artifact of the Month

Pictured below is a drawer in the Dinosaur Journey Museum collections room with many Museum of Western Colorado numbers (and many specimens). This represents a small percentage of our 350 or so shed carnivorous dinosaur teeth found at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry out in Rabbit Valley over the years.

Teeth of carnivores are found at the quarry on average one-per-day throughout the summer. The record is nine in one day, back in 2005. The scattered bones of all the dinosaurs at the quarry are sometimes broken or chewed, suggesting that carcasses were being scavenged by carnivores that occasionally lost a tooth during feeding.

Meet our Trip Leaders – Zebulon Miracle

Zebulon Miracle is the Curator of Anthropology and Collections Manager for the Museum of Western Colorado. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with history and anthropology degrees, Zebulon moved back to his hometown where he was fortunate to be offered a job at the organization that inspired him throughout his childhood. Zebulon has designed and constructed permanent and temporary exhibitions, conducted gallery tours for all levels and implemented a popular After Hours program that allows patrons “behind the scenes” opportunities at museum sites or history tours of downtown Grand Junction. His true passion, however, is connecting the Museum’s audience with the lands, people, history and heritage of the American Southwest. Zebulon has offered tours around Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico at such places like Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument and dozens of rock art sites.


Trips Zebulon leads in 2013:

Great Museums of Denver – This trip was a huge success!

Full Moon Snowshoe – January 27 • Register by January 23

The Maya Past & Present – March 1 – 10 • Register by January 23 (with Mike Perry)

Arizona Archaeology – March 25 – 29 • Register by March 18

Jones Canyon Hike – April 6 • Register by April 1 (with Mike Perry)

Shay Canyon Rock Art & Tracks – April 27 • Register by April 22 (with John Foster)

National Parks of Utah – May 6 – 10 • Register by April 26 (with Mike Perry)

Dominguez Canyon Hike – May 16 • Register by May 10

Independence Monument Climb – May 25 • This trip is full. (with Kris Hjelle)

Great Rivers of the West: Desolation Canyon Rafting – June 11 – 15 • Register by April 15

Central City Opera – July 19 – 20 • Register by July 12

Brekenridge Hut Hike – August 2 – 3 • Register by July 3 (with Mike Perry)

Climb a 14er – TBA (with Lon Carpenter)

Leadville Trip – September 12 • Register by September 5

Bicycle Tour of Palisade – September 14 • Register by September 6

Yellowstone & Grand Tetons in the Fall – September 20 – 25 • Register by July 30 (with Mike Perry)

Civil War Battlefields  – October 1 – 7• Register by August 1

Christmas in Salt Lake City – December 6 – 7 • Register by November 18 (with Mike Perry)

Meandering with Mike – Travel tips from a pro

Travel – It Begins with Attitude (be prepared for the unexpected)

This marks the beginning of what we hope will be a helpful and insightful column of travel – hints, comments and shared stories from previous participants. Educational travel has become a hallmark program of the Museum of Western Colorado and one that has brought new members, supporters and donors to the Museum family. The world is our classroom and new horizons of learning have opened up for many who have come and enjoyed their travels with us.

In thinking about this first column, I’m reminded of the words of a good friend, mentor and international explorer, John Goddard. “Travel isn’t so much about where you go as it is about what you bring back from that experience that makes you a better, more understanding person.” Travel, whether in our own backyard of Colorado or the far reaches of the earth begins with the right attitude.

Before each of our trips we emphasize that adaptability and flexibility are the operative attitudes one must have and without that their travel experience will be a disappointment and likely affect others. Sometimes trips take interesting twists.

On a recent tour to Peru what was to be a short flight from Cuzco to the Amazon Basin became one of the most challenging of all our many travels. The flight had been cancelled due to weather conditions. The only way into to our jungle lodge was by a small bus and river boat. Through the 4 hour rough, dusty jungle roads and then 9 hours by motorized dug-out canoes, our group was tested to the limit. We were all exhausted, hungry and tired. When all was said and done, reflections of that trip weeks later ended up being the topic of conversation among many and the highlight of their South American adventure. Participant Ed Knayzi said later, “The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is Attitude.” To Ed and others it became one of the most memorable travel experiences they’ve had. That was because he and others maintained a great attitude.

Over the months ahead we hope to share helpful suggestions on making your travel experience meaningful. If you’ve thought about travel but have apprehensions, give us a try. We have something for everyone. Our new Passport to Adventure contains 31 terrific new tours for 2013 and many are already filling. You can visit our website here to learn about our season of travel and the trip leaders that will make your travel experience memorable.
- Mike Perry

Ring out the old, ring in the new

It is with mixed feelings we say good bye to 2012. With its ups and downs, the year has been full of memories.

Mike Perry, our Executive Director of the past 10 years, retired the end of 2012. While we will miss him (and some of us are quite envious), we wish him happy trails as he seeks new adventures!

ReBecca Hunt-Foster, our Collections Manager at Dinosaur Journey, also has a new life ahead – with the BLM in Moab as their Field Paleontologist. She will be missed by all, especially those at Dinosaur Journey. Best of luck in your new position!

Dick Troy, David Sundal and Louise Waid were volunteers we lost in 2012, but we are so grateful for the many years we were blessed with their talents.

While we said good bye to some, we welcomed others into our fold. Dan Rosenbaum has joined us as caretaker of Cross Orchards Historic Site. Cecil Wilkenson took over as Maintenance Assistant at Museum of the West and Cindy Wilkenson became a new smiling face at Dinosaur Journey Museum as Front Desk Clerk. Carla Hatch joined us as our Bookkeeper and Celia Fournier is our Trips, Tours and Dinosaur Digs Coordinator. Last but not least, we are looking forward to having Peter Booth as our new Executive Director.

We recruited 84 new volunteers and our force of 225 volunteers logged in over 33,000 hours! With the help of those volunteers we were able to attain record numbers at some of our events and programs. Kid’s Camps filled up quickly as did Dinosaur Digs, which had anxious participants scrambling to find available dates early in the season! We had 2200 people attend our Two Rivers Chautauqua, Breakfast with Santa was as popular as ever selling out weeks before the event and we celebrated our 25th Dinosaur Days with Buddy from the popular PBS hit show Dino Train! Trips and tours took us to Cuba (twice!), Peru, the Black Hills, on many cool rock art trips, rafting and more. A cool new lecture series, Changing Landscapes of Science, was presented in conjunction with the John McConnell Math and Science Center and will continue in 2013. Our After Hours Program has become a monthly standard for some folks, as the Oral History Program is for others.

Whew – we’ve only scratched the surface of our 2012. But, you can see, it was indeed a memorable one. Join us in making 2013 one for the books as well!


Ringing in the New Year with a New Director

Each year we take the plunge and start a new calendar year. This year is extra special because we are also turning the page to a new beginning at the Museum of Western Colorado. Last summer the Museum’s board of directors launched a national recruitment to search for a new Executive Director to replace Mike Perry. Finding the right person is no easy job and the Search Committee was flooded with resumes from all over the United States. After a great deal of reviewing resumes, conducting interviews and doing reference checks, the committee finalized their decision. In November an official offer was extended to and accepted by Dr. Peter MacMillan Booth.

PeterBooth 2Peter will take over the helm on January 14, 2013. He comes from a fifth-generation Western family. He was born in Denver, grew up in deep south Texas and has spent much of his adult career in Arizona and Oregon. Peter graduated with his B.A. from the University of Texas, his M.A. from the University of Arizona and his Ph.D. from Purdue University – all in history. His focus has been late 19th and 20th century United States, American West and Native American History. Peter’s career included serving as the Assistant Director of Education at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson; the Education Director at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona; the Senior Research Associate with the educational assessment group ATI and as the Executive Director at Mission Mill Museum in Salem, Oregon. In 2010 he merged Mission Mill Museum with another museum to create a new cultural institution – the Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill, of which he became the Executive Director.

Peter and his wife, Dana Gail Cole, have three wonderful (and very active) boys – Anthony (10), Owen (8) and Albert (6). Peter loves to spend his free time hiking, fishing and camping with his family. He has also volunteered with the Cub Scouts, his church, PTA and Rotary. Besides running after his boys, he also enjoys hunting and sailing.

Peter believes that museums are key to a healthy community. One of the best ways for a community to promote a healthy understanding of itself is through the promotion of local culture and education through a collaboration of institutions, including museums, schools, service groups and cultural organizations. “Through education comes understanding, which leads to appreciation, which results in preservation and betterment.”

Peter, we look forward to working with you and want to extend a hearty welcome to you and your family!