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Thursday, May 25, 2006 09:13 am


Museum scores $1 million; Katherine Dunham passes; the Olivers say adieu; race forum

Hellar Armbruster, owner of Armbruster Manufacturing Co., helps his crew raise display tents in preparation for last weekend’s 45th annual Old Capitol Art Fair. The Springfield-based company has been manufacturing tents since 1875 and has been a patr
KA-CHING! The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation hit the jackpot this week with a $1 million contribution from the emir of Qatar, who visited the museum a year ago and enjoyed a dinner hosted by the foundation. The tab came to nearly $25,000, money well spent, as it turns out. What was on the menu? Susan Mogerman, the foundation’s chief operating officer, can’t recall. “Oh God, it was very lovely — I remember that,” she says. “It was fish and something else.” No telling just what Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the emir, found so captivating about Lincoln and the museum. After all, Qatar, one of the richest nations on earth, is considerably different from America. “Appomattox” isn’t in the vocabulary. When the sheik assumed power in 1995, it was by way of a bloodless coup — he took over while his father was on a Swiss ski vacation. Father and son later reconciled.
THE LAST DANCE Acclaimed dancer and social activist Katherine Dunham died Sunday, May 21, one month shy of her 97th birthday. Funeral services are tentatively planned for Friday, May 26, in New York City, depending on whether adopted daughter Marie-Christine Dunham-Pratt, who lives in Rome, can make it in time, according to Ray Coleman, a member of the advisory board of the Katherine Dunham Center for the Arts and Humanities. In March, Illinois Times reported on the effort to relocate Dunham from New York to her home in East St. Louis, which also houses a Dunham museum. However, there’s been some debate as to whether Dunham’s effects should be shipped to New York, the nation’s cultural center, or remain in East St. Louis — the place Dunham considered home. Says Charlotte Ottley, Dunham’s local executive liaison, “We must brand East St. Louis as the mecca for the Dunham legacy, and everyone associated with her must see it as part of their commitment to keep Miss Dunham’s legacy alive.”

TAKE TWO OLIVERS . . . Last Friday, Capt. Deon Oliver, head of the Springfield Salvation Army Corps, received the call he and wife Michelle Oliver, also a captain, had been expecting. “You pretty much know, after the first year, that you might get a call — it’s just how the Salvation Army works,” Deon Oliver says of the couple’s reassignment to the Salvation Army’s Chicago College for Officer Training. The appointment begins June 28. In January, Springfield aldermen thwarted the group’s attempt to build a community center and transitional shelter across the street from Oak Ridge Cemetery on J. David Jones Parkway. Finding a site, Oliver says, remains the Salvation Army’s No. 1 goal — so the Army is bringing in a pair of big guns: Majs. Paul and Barbara Logan from Milwaukee. This, Oliver notes, speaks to the significance of the situation facing the Army. With their 25 years of service, he says, “the Logans will bring skills that the Olivers don’t have.”
Despite the battle over the J. David Jones property, Oliver says that he’ll miss the friendships he’s built, as well as working out at the YMCA. He also says he has no hard feelings towards anyone. “The minute I receive a call, my goal is to come in do what I’ve been asked to do,” Oliver says. “Honestly, I can say I’ve gone 100 percent and given my all.”

GET INTO THE RACES The current state of Springfield race relations is the topic at a public forum on Wednesday, May 31. It’s the second in a series presented by the new Citizens Club; panelists are former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara, former Springfield Housing Authority head Willis Logan, University of Illinois at Springfield emeritus professor Larry Golden, Springfield Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil, and Sangamon County Board member Doris Turner. The forum begins at 5:15 p.m. in the Dove Conference Center of the Prairie Heart Institute at St. John’s Hospital, 619 E. Mason St.
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