Dozens attend rededication of downtown Cape mural

Friday, September 21, 2007
Carole Buck, widow of St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, spoke Thursday at the dedication of the renovated "Missouri Wall of Fame" in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

All the speakers at Thursday's rededication of Cape Girardeau's "Missouri Wall of Fame" mural expressed gratitude. More than 50 people gathered at the picnic shelter near the mural for the ceremony.

Carole Buck said the image of her late husband, sports broadcaster Jack Buck, was a good likeness of his smiling face.

"I see that look on his face and I can hear him say, 'Havin' fun, blondie?'" she said. Everyone laughed.

She said that he, like many of the people memorialized on the wall, was in many ways a humble, ordinary man.

"It's a wonderful thing," she said of the mural. "I'm stunned by how beautiful it is."

Tim Blattner spoke Thursday at the dedication of the renovated Missouri Wall of Fame in downtown Cape Girardeau. Dignitaries included, from left, Thomas Melvin, Carole Buck, Mayor Jay Knudtson, Marla Mills and Linda Godwin. (Fred Lynch)

Linda Godwin, the Jackson High School graduate who grew up to be an astronaut and still works for NASA, recalled visiting Cape Girardeau as a child with her twin sister. She said the family often stopped at Woolworth for chocolate-covered peanuts before heading to the river. Glancing at the "Missouri Wall of Fame" Thursday evening, she said, "I can't really believe I'm on it.

"I see people here whose names I remember from world history and literature classes," she said, joking about having "a hometown advantage."

Godwin noted the pioneer spirit that built Cape Girardeau continues at NASA, where she's part of projects for a return to the moon and for the international space station.

Lead artist Tom Melvin recalled how, while working on the 47 famous Missourians on the wall, he frequently encountered people who shared personal stories about the wall's subjects. He said he was grateful to have the opportunity to return to Cape Girardeau from Chicago.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson said he was glad of the presence of people actually featured on the mural.

Astronaut Linda Godwin spoke Thursday at the dedication of the renovated Missouri Wall of Fame in downtown Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

"We continually try to figure out ways to brand our city," he said. "We keep coming back to the river."

River Heritage Mural Association president Tim Blattner thanked city officials for adding reader boards and brick paving alongside the mural. He especially thanked the businesses and individuals, including members of the mural association, for helping to pay for the painting. He reminded those gathered that four panels have yet to be sponsored. Donations are tax-deductible.

For Marla Mills, the director of Old Town Cape, the mural is a destination.

"It's more than just a wall. It brings people to Cape Gir­ardeau. It brings people downtown," she said.

Cape Girardeau city manager Doug Leslie said the mural has "added color and interest" to both the wall and the downtown district.

When the rededication was over, Kathie Brennan, a member of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau's destination development committee, said her favorite panel features visionaries like Godwin, "who inspires kids, so they know that dreams become reality."

The renovated mural looked "fresher and brighter" to Cape Girardeau resident Carolyn Webb.

"Even though it's much the same, it's truly beautiful," she said.

Doug Stacy rushed from his job loading barges at the Southeast Missouri Port Authority to the rededication. He arrived just as the speeches were ending, but with plenty of time to get a photo autographed by Godwin. He's fascinated by space travel.

"It's harvest season. I was lucky to get off this early," he said.

He waited in line as Godwin signed photo after photo, the moon rising behind her, framed by the towers of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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