PB Museum Gala is April 7
William Terry, a rail worker from Desoto, Mo., was passing through Poplar Bluff on May 9, 1927. After his arrival on May 8 from Little Rock, Ark., the father and husband was killed when a historic tornado swept through the town. Artifacts Terry was carrying at his time of death, including his wallet, can be found at the Poplar Bluff Museum at 1010 North Main St.
The addition of Terry's story and artifacts are the result of ongoing improvements throughout the museum, which have allowed not only for expansion of the 1927 tornado display, but also for renovation of the Poplar Bluff Sports Hall of Fame, expansion of the museum's people room, and a recently completed first-floor bathroom, according to Kati Ray, recording secretary of the Poplar Bluff Museum Board of Directors.
"(Terry) just happened to be here on that fateful day," said Ray, adding the expansion project has allowed her to delve into the lives of those who were killed in an attempt to tell their stories. Additional display cases were donated by Key Drugs and, Ray said, the added space has been very beneficial to the project.
Ray said though her time has primarily been devoted to tornado research, the major renovation taking place inside the museum impacts the Poplar Bluff Sports Hall of Fame. The sports hall of fame is a separate entity from the museum, though it is housed inside, Ray said, and that Clinton Salyer and George Jarboe have been hard at work making improvements.
One goal for the sports hall of fame's renovation is to make the room more intentional; a goal, Ray said, which carries throughout the museum.
"They have gone through and painted the inside of the display cases, mounted plaques on the walls, and are working to redesign the cases," Ray said. "We're trying to do a better job of labeling our items and telling their stories."
Ray said the people room is another feature the museum board is looking to enhance. Currently, displays highlighting the achievements of Poplar Bluff native Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, television writer and producer whose sitcoms include Designing Women and Evening Shade; John Stanard, historian and former editor of the Daily American Republic; Guy and Evelyn Whitworth, business owners and philanthropists, among others, grace the walls.
"Buildings are buildings, but the success of Poplar Bluff is due to its people," Ray said.
Recently completed is a second bathroom on the main floor. Ray said initially the museum board planned on renovating the original facilities, but decided an additional, handicap-accessible bathroom was a better option.
"We are thrilled to have a second one," Ray added.
The museum relies on donations from the community to make improvements and add new and unique exhibits, Ray said. Next month, the Poplar Bluff Museum will host the year's largest fundraising endeavor, the Fourth Annual Night at the Museum Gala, at 6 p.m., on April 7. It will feature live entertainment, a luau theme, and will honor founding board member and former president Dale Gaebler, who passed away last year. Tickets are available for $30 each at Whitworth's Gift Chest Jewelers or through Emily Thurman at 573-718-7101.