A physician credited as the father of osteopathic medicine, a U.S. senator who helped end slavery and a suffragist who took her cause before the U.S. Supreme Court are among the candidates for induction into the state Capitol’s Hall of Famous Missourians. And now, the public will help decide who is added.
The hall is a collection of bronze busts and generally has honored people chosen by the House speaker. Speaker Tim Jones is calling for a public vote to choose two new honorees. Voting starts Monday and is open through Oct. 31.
The vote comes after acrimony last year following the selection by a different House speaker of commentator Rush Limbaugh. That choice was criticized by Democrats, some women’s groups and other political foes.
This year’s pool includes no one quite so polarizing. Ten finalists were selected based largely on public nominations received this summer.
The most nominations were for Claude Smith, a composer and music educator whose composition “Flight” was adopted as the official march of the National Air and Space Museum. He taught music in Missouri and Nebraska and received commissions for works for the U.S. Air Force Band, the U.S. Marine Band, the U.S. Navy Band and the Army Field Band. His daughter, Pam Smith Kelly, said he was a humble man and wanted music to be part of everyone’s life.
“He made an impact wherever he went,” she said. “He loved his music No. 1, but he was such a gracious person and he loved working with people.”
Receiving the second-most nominations was Andrew Taylor Still, who settled in Kirksville and founded the American School of Osteopathy. His inclusion had support from several people with ties to A.T. Still University.
“Dr. Still really ushered in a whole new train of thought,” said Brad Bates, a lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons. “He basically revolutionized medicine with his style, and he looked at it from a different vantage point in how the body works together with itself in order to heal.”
Bates said there are about 82,000 osteopathic physicians.
Busts of those in the Hall of Famous Missourians are displayed between the House and Senate chambers. Among those already included in the hall are President Harry Truman, Walt Disney, George Washington Carver, Walter Cronkite and Betty Grable.
The other finalists eligible to be voted in are former U.S. Sen. John Henderson, who helped write and co-sponsored the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery; Rose O'Neill, who created the cartoon Kewpie; composer and pianist John William “Blind” Boone; science fiction author Robert Heinlein; former elected officials Kit Bond and Sue Shear; and suffragist Virginia Minor. She was the plaintiff in an 1874 U.S. Supreme Court case that unsuccessfully argued a constitutional amendment calling for equal protection gave women the right to vote. The final candidate is professional golfer Payne Stewart, who won three major championships and was included, though others received more nominations.
Missouri House officials received hundreds of submissions – both serious and sarcastic.
Poet T.S. Eliot had nominations as did rock-and-roller Chuck Berry and outlaw Jesse James. Actors Brad Pitt and Jon Hamm did not make the final cut, nor did the founder of the journalism school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. And demonstrating the popularity of the St. Louis Cardinals were nominations for players, the manager and a broadcaster.
A few called for removing Limbaugh. One submission said the person not want to embarrass “people who I DO respect by suggesting that they be honored there alongside his bust.”
In addition to the two chosen by the public, the House speaker plans to pick a third person.
Hall of Famous Missourians: http://www.house.mo.gov/FamousMissourianVoting.aspx