Downtown Mural Project
The downtown mural project started out of a concept of integrating art with historic preservation.
A Vision Carthage committee began meeting to dream about what we could create and approached internationally known local artist, Andy Thomas, to discuss various ideas.
Andy agreed to take on the project and created an initial design of showcasing some of our most famous citizens who came from our small-town roots.
The group loved it and located a mural expert, Paul Whitehill, of Whitehill Enterprises. Paul had worked with Andy before and explained the process of utilizing tiles instead of painting directly on the building.
Felix Wright was born in Carthage in 1959, and when Elaine and J C Wright were shuttling their son to and from baseball practice on the 1971 Carthage Little League All-Star team, they had no idea he would be a starting safety in the National Football League 17 years later.
Felix’s 1971 Little League team was Missouri State Champion and he went on to excel in a stellar three sport career at Carthage High School, graduating in 1977. While at CHS, he lettered in football, baseball, and basketball and his football coach Dave Tapp said “He’s undoubtedly one of the most versatile athletes ever to come out of Carthage.” His senior year he earned all-conference and all-district honors in football and was named the most determined and inspirational athlete on the baseball team.
He then attended Drake University on a football scholarship. At Drake, Felix never missed a game in his 4 year career, and was team captain and MVP as a senior.
After college, Felix played three years for the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League, where he was selected to the 1984 CFL All-Star team.
In 1985 he signed with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL where he played six years. His greatest NFL highlight came on a Monday night game in 1987 when he intercepted two passes for 108 yards and one touchdown versus the Los Angeles Rams.
In 1989, he had nine interceptions to lead the NFL, and was named Most Valuable Player of the Browns.
After leaving Cleveland in 1991, Felix played for the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs before retiring after the 1993 season. During his career, he played in four AFC championship games.
In 1995, Felix’s number 15 at Carthage High School was retired in tribute to his athletic accomplishments.
Felix was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2012.
Felix lives in Cleveland where he mentors NFL and NBA players, and works part time for the NFL. He has three children, Alexandria, Taylor and Carlton.
Marlin Perkins was born on March 28, 1905, in Carthage, Missouri, the youngest of three sons. When he was seven years old, his mother nursed him through a serious bout of pneumonia and died of the illness herself. His grieving father sent Marlin's two older brothers to private school, and Marlin was sent to his Aunt Laura's farm in Pittsburg, Kansas.
He attended public school there through eighth grade. In the fall of 1919, he entered Wentworth Military Academy. There, Perkins demonstrated his fascination with snakes by keeping blue racers in his room.
Perkins briefly attended the University of Missouri, but quit school to become a laborer at the Saint Louis Zoological Park. He rose through the ranks, becoming the reptile curator in 1928. After being hired as a curator of the Buffalo Zoological Park in New York, Perkins was eventually promoted to director in 1938. He then served as director at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, from 1944 until 1962, when he returned to the St. Louis Zoo, this time as director.
During his time at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Perkins joined Sir Edmund Hillary as the zoologist for Hillary's 1960 Himalayan expedition to search for the legendary Yeti.
Perkins was the host of Zoo Parade, a television program on NBC when he was the director at the Lincoln Park Zoo. During a rehearsal of Zoo Parade, he was bitten by a timber rattlesnake, one of several bites from venomous snakes Perkins suffered throughout his career.
As a result of his work on Zoo Parade, Perkins was offered the job in 1963 as the host of the Wild Kingdom Nature Show. The fame he gained in his television career allowed him to become an advocate for the protection of endangered species.
Perkins also helped establish the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center (WCSRC) near St. Louis in 1971. This wolf sanctuary has been instrumental in breeding wolves for eventual re-placement into their natural habitats.
Perkins retired from active zookeeping in 1970 and from Wild Kingdom in 1985 for health reasons. Perkins remained with the Saint Louis Zoo as Director Emeritus until his death on June 14, 1986, when he died of cancer.
He was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2012.
Dr. Kavandi was born July 17, 1959, in Springfield, Missouri. She lost her parents in an airplane accident in 1967, and was taken in by her aunt and uncle, who lived in Carthage.
Dr. Kavandi graduated as the Valedictorian from Carthage in 1977. She attended MSSU and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in chemistry in 1980. She obtained her Masters in 1982.
In 1984, Dr. Kavandi took a position as an engineer at Boeing Aerospace Company in Seattle. She became the lead engineer of secondary power for the Short Range Attack Missile II and the principal representative involved in the design and development of thermal batteries for Sea Lance and the Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile.
She received her doctorate in analytical chemistry in 1990 from University of Washington and holds two patents on pressure indicating paints, the subject of her doctoral dissertation.
Dr. Kavandi was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1994 and served as a mission specialist astronaut on STS-91, the final Shuttle/Mir partnership mission. Later she worked as a spacecraft communicator in NASA’s Mission Control Center. Her second mission was aboard STS-99, which was the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission that mapped more than 47 million miles of Earth’s land surface.
In 2001, she served aboard STS-104, whose mission was to add the airlock to the International Space Station.
During her time at NASA, she has been awarded three Space Flight Medals for her shuttle flights, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, and the prestigious Presidential Rank Award.
Dr. Kavandi has logged more than 33 days in space and has traveled more than 13.1 million miles in 535 Earth orbits.
Dr. Kavandi was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2015.
She is married to John Kavandi and they have two children.
Carl Hubbell was born in 1903 at Red Oak. He loved baseball and proved himself to be an excellent player. In 1936, Time magazine said while growing up on his family’s farm he “practiced for hours…throwing stones at a barn door until he could unfailingly hit knotholes no bigger than a dime”. He was a left handed pitcher and played professional baseball for the New York Giants for 15 years from 1928 to 1943.
His career highlights included five consecutive 20 win seasons, and he led the Giants to a win in the 1933 World Series. In six World Series starts, he compiled a 4-2 record with a low 1.79 ERA and 32 strikeouts.
Raised in Meeker, Oklahoma he was invited to spring training in 1926 with the Detroit Tigers, but coach George McBride and player-manager Ty Cobb were not impressed with him. Cobb thought he relied too heavily on his trademark screwball pitch. After being sent to the minor leagues, he was released and eventually picked up by the Giants in 1928.
His career led him to be voted the National League Most Valuable Player twice (the first unanimous pick in 1936), and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947. Carl set the major league record for consecutive wins by a pitcher with 24, and in the 1934 All Star Game he struck out five of the game’s greatest hitters in succession.
His teammates referred to him as The Meal Ticket. He ended his career with a 253-154 won-lost record, 1,678 strikeouts, 724 walks, 36 shutouts, and a 2.97 Earned Run Average in 3,590 innings pitched. He worked for the Giants for 35 years after he retired as a pitcher.
He died of injuries from a car wreck in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1988 and is buried there.
He was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2012.
Annie Baxter was the first woman elected to public office in Missouri. Born in 1865 in Pennsylvania, the family moved here in 1877.
Annie worked for the County Clerk as a Deputy Clerk and in 1890 was urged to run for the position when the Clerk retired.
She won the election with 3,720 votes, or 53% of the vote, and was sued by her opponent on the grounds that the statutes describing the duties of County Clerk referred to the Clerk as “he”.
Her opponent won the trial on a county level, but the verdict was over turned by the Missouri Supreme Court, making her the first woman elected to this office in the United States.
She died of pneumonia in June of 1944 and was buried in Jefferson City. Annie Baxter was not only intelligent, extremely competent and a trail blazer for women but she had enormous influence on Carthage, Jasper County and the state of Missouri as well.
She was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2012 and the Missouri Hall of Fame in 2020.
James Scott was born in 1885 and grew up to be one of the top 3 Ragtime composers, with Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb. His mother taught him the basics of piano playing as she did with all of her 6 children.
In 1901 the family moved to Carthage, where young James attended Lincoln School and the following year he began working at Charles Dumars’ music store, sweeping the floors. He soon began demonstrating pianos.
He would play some of his own compositions as well as those of others, and soon people began asking where they could buy the sheet music they were hearing.
In 1903 Charles Dumars printed the sheet music to A Summer Breeze, Scott’s first published sheet music.
Scott would come back to this area and play at Lakeside from time to time. He had frequented Lakeside as a performer since 1902. He was the director of the Carthage Light Guard Band for a time, and the only one of his siblings to pursue a musical career despite all of them showing musical talent.
In 1906 he moved to St. Louis where his friend Scott Joplin introduced him to publisher John S. Stark who published Frog Leg Rag. By 1914 he moved to Kansas City and married Nora Johnson, supporting them by teaching music and playing for silent movies.
When talking movies came along he lost that position. Nora died in 1930 and as they had no children, he was alone. To keep himself busy, he continued to play with his newly formed band, mostly private engagements when work could be found.
James Scott died in 1938 of kidney failure in Kansas City. He and Nora are buried together in Westlawn Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas.
He was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2012.
David Newell was born in 1905 in Carthage and was primarily known as an American character actor, whose acting career spanned from the very beginning of the sound film era through the middle of the 1950s.
He made his film debut in a featured role in The Hole in the Wall, a 1929 film starring Edward G. Robinson and Claudette Colbert. Early in his career he had many featured roles, in such films as: RKO's The Runaway Bride in 1929, starring Mary Astor; 1931's Ten Cents a Dance, starring Barbara Stanwyck and directed by Lionel Barrymore; and White Heat in 1934.
He would occasionally receive a starring role, as in 1930's Just Like Heaven, which co-starred Anita Louise. Some of the more notable films he appeared in include: A Star is Born (1937), which stars Janet Gaynor and Fredric March; Blondie (1938); the Bette Davis vehicle, Dark Victory (1939); Day-Time Wife (1939), starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell; It's a Wonderful World (1939), with James Stewart and Claudette Colbert; Rings on Her Fingers (1942), starring Henry Fonda and Gene Tierney; the Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore film, Up in Arms (1944), which also stars Dana Andrews; 1947's Killer McCoy with Mickey Rooney, Brian Donlevy, and Ann Blyth; Homecoming (1948), starring Clark Gable, Lana Turner, and Anne Baxter; That Wonderful Urge (1949), starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney; David and Bathsheba (1951), starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward; and Cecil B. DeMille's 1952 blockbuster, The Greatest Show on Earth.
During his 25-year acting career, he appeared in over 110 films. His final appearance in film was in 1954's The Eddie Cantor Story.
In the late 1940s he also began working as a make-up artist, which he transitioned to full-time in 1955 due to injuries sustained during a car accident, which left him physically disfigured.
He retired from the film industry in 1961, although he continued to work in television through the beginning of the 1970s, his last position being the make-up artist on the television show, Lassie.
Newell died on January 25, 1980 at the age of 75.
The Steadley Family
The Steadley family has provided funds for the city of Carthage and its charities through their family trust since the mid 1970s. Their generosity has helped with education, health care, recreational areas, animal welfare, and the preservation of many of the landmark structures of Carthage. The trust and its leadership have touched the lives of everyone who has lived in this area, and it continues to reinvest in the community.
Frederick Steadley lost his first wife in 1896, leaving him a widower with two young boys. He then married Stella V. Hennessy in 1899 and the family moved immediately to Carthage. He was a jeweler first, then branched out into the marble industry and formed Carthage Quarry and went on to the manufacture of bed springs. Carthage Spring Bed Co. later became F.W. Steadley and Co. Working with his sons in the businesses, the family prospered.
F.W. Steadley died in 1928 with his widow, Stella and surviving son Kent left to manage the business interests. When Stella died in 1953 her will asked that Kent, as executor, upon his death set up a trust and “said income be used so far as possible for assisting charitable and educational institutions” in the Carthage area. When Kent Steadley died only two months after his wife Mary on January 3, 1960, they left the Trust, which is now known as the Kent D. and Mary L. Steadley Trust to benefit the citizens of Carthage. To date the Steadley Trust has granted over $25,000,000 to local charitable causes, and continues to grant in excess of $1,000,000 each year to local charitable causes.
Carthage and its residents are fortunate to have several trusts benefitting the community, but certainly the Steadley Trust has been the longest continuous fund and a blessing to this community.
The Steadley Trust generously contributed to this project.
Bill Snow was born in Lamar, Missouri in 1938. He spent some time in California before settling down in Carthage around 1976. He was a man who cherishes the results of his experience and that rich mix was the basis for the work he did as a sculptor.
Bill moved to California where he met his wife Marge. They were married for 55 years. Bill taught at Doan College in Nebraska and spent most of his adult years as a journeyman machinist, traveling America. He was also a self-employed shoe repairman.
In 1982 he become a full-time professional sculptor. His media includes bronze, marble, limestone and alabaster. His styles included abstract, realistic and architectural.
In Carthage, Bill was best known for the work he did with fellow artist Bob Tommey in the creation of the Marlin Perkins statue in Central Park. But he has also completed a commission to do a piece for the Methodist Hospital in Bolivar, a 4-foot sculpture of a human hand with a dove landing on the fingers.
He received the Judge’s Merit Award in the Western Art Exhibit in Minneapolis Minnesota in 1993. He was instrumental in starting Midwest Gathering of the Artists. Commissions include a lion for MSSU, a 22-ton limestone carving of a longhorn at the Joplin Stockyards, a life-sized bronze sculpture of Alice in Wonderland displayed at the Carthage Public Library gardens among others.
Bill passed away in 2016.
Bob Tommey was born March 2, 1928, in Ozan, AR. He was well-known throughout the country for his original western art and sculpting. As a child, he expressed himself in his artwork, from drawing scenes on blackboards as a young boy to designing officers swimming pools and drawing training materials in the Army, although his love for art was never encouraged.
Bob served at the Pentagon in the Army, and was employed by Braniff Int'l Airlines in Dallas, making topographical maps for 20 years. Bob married Patsy Combest 1961. Together they had four children, Tim, Steve, Terry and Beverly.
Tommey taught at Dallas Art Institute for 8 years. He also had a television show for a year. He interviewed celebrities while he sketched, such as Ray Price, Hank Thompson and Elvis Presley in the job he claims got him started in the portrait business. He and his wife Pat relocated to Carthage in 1981, largely due to Lowell Davis’ urging.
Bob was the beginning catalyst for the arts in Carthage. He taught, lectured, and donated art for fund-raising events. He donated a 4'X8' oil painting to Fairview Christian Church, where Jesus calls Peter to walk on the water.
He was the co-founder of the Midwest Gathering of Artists and artCentral, and was a member of the Texas Cowboy Artists, along with teaching and mentoring countless up-and-coming artists. Bob and Bill Snow worked together to create the sculpture of Marlin Perkins located in Central Park.
He received many awards and commissions, including sculpting a life size portrait bronze of Herman Lay of the Frito Lay Co., which sits at their corporate office. His bronze sculptures of the Dunnegan Brothers of Bolivar are on display at the Dunnegan Museum there.
His paintings were part of the office décor of J.R. Ewing on the hit series “Dallas”.
He was awarded the Cowboy Artist of the Year in 1984.
In 2002, Bob was awarded a key to the City of Nashville, Arkansas, where he grew up.
Bob passed away in 2020.
Sam Butcher was born on January 1, 1939 and was the third of five children who grew up in a very poor family. The family moved to Northern California when Sam was quite young, settling in rural Redding.
Most of Sam's childhood days were spent drawing and sketching under the dining room table. At a very early age his talent was recognized by both family members and friends, but because his family was so poor, drawing materials were hard to come by. Sam was a clever child however, and soon his favorite place was a factory dump near his home where he would search for rolls of paper to draw on.
With his mother’s encouragement, he pursued formal art training following his high school graduation. He won a scholarship to the College of Arts & Crafts in Berkeley.
Sam took a job in the shipping department of the Child Evangelism Fellowship. His first position as a real artist came when CEF promoted Sam to the art department.
Sam began drawing the endearing teardrop-eyed children he called “Precious Moments” for family and friends. Then, for several years, Sam was seen on television as the story illustrator for the inspiration children's program, Tree Top House, drawing his teardrop-eyed images to tell the stories.
Precious Moments artwork was introduced to the public in 1975 on inspirational greeting cards and posters, and in 1978 the first Precious Moments figurines were unveiled. Sam is the artist best known as the artist behind the Precious Moments brand of characters based on American-Christian themes. He draws in oil, water-color, acrylic, and mixed-media.
Sam has never forgotten his humble beginnings. Even though he is one of America's most beloved artists, he remains a quiet family man.
Jerry Ellis was born in 1934, in Marshall, MO and was an only child.
He served 5 years in the U.S. Navy. He met his wife, Jo, in a music history class at Mizzou and they have three children. They spent 20 years in FL before moving to Carthage in 1975.
The first time Jerry picked up a brush was at the age of 35. He had an audio business in a busy mall where there was an art show. He was drawn to many paintings by a local artist and told his wife that when he retired, he wanted to learn to paint. She presented him with classes with that same artist as a gift. After moving back to MO, he became a full-time professional artist.
The inspiration and imagery for Jerry’s paintings come from the small town of Carthage, where his home and studio are located, and from the beautiful, rolling countryside of his native Ozarks.
Jerry is known for his streetscapes and landscapes. His fascination with steam locomotives allows him to work with more abstract shapes and interesting colors and textures, while still keeping a realistic viewpoint.
For over 20 years, Jerry painted exclusively in transparent watercolor (one of the most difficult mediums to master), but has expanded into gouache, acrylics, & oils. Many works in this medium tend toward impressionism.
Whenever he travels to art shows, he always has his camera with him to capture that momentary gift of all the right elements coming together to make a wonderful image. And on the right kind of day, he likes to drive around the countryside looking for images that speak to him.
He has conducted many workshops and entered hundreds of competitions and won numerous awards, including two High Winds Medals in the American Watercolor Society annuals, and a Silver Medal of Honor for Watercolor from the Audubon Artists of America.
His work has been published in several art magazines and books.
His most significant achievement was to have earned signature membership in the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, & the Transparent Watercolor Society of America.
At one time he was one of only 28 Watercolor artists nationwide to have signature memberships in those 3 groups.
He & his wife have been married 66 years.
Lowell Davis was born on June 8, 1937 and grew up in Red Oak. He attended Mark Twain School and Carthage High School. Lowell married Rose Castillo Davis in 2003. He has three daughters and three sons from previous marriages.
Ironically, after failing English and art his sophomore year at Carthage High School in the 1950’s, Lowell dropped out to join the Air Force. As a part of a four-member crew, he flew prop planes during the Algerian War. After one particularly rough landing in Algiers, Lowell received a medical discharge.
Following his military service, Lowell moved to Dallas-Fort Worth to be an Art Director for a large advertising agency. He explains his experience, “All those fourteen years, all I could think about was getting back to Missouri and getting a farm.” Fulfilling that wish, Lowell returned to a farm outside Carthage in 1974 to farm and pursue his own art full time.
Well known for his art depicting farm life in America, most especially in Jasper County, Lowell is often referred to as the “Norman Rockwell of Rural Art”. His artistic works include paintings, figurines, bronzes, metal sculptures and art storybooks that reflect small town life in rural Missouri, giving a glimpse into simpler and often sweeter times.
Among Lowell’s greatest contributions to the Carthage area is his recreation of his childhood hometown of Red Oak, the original now vanished. Red Oak II is a charming step back into a small rural town, complete with the original Phillips 66 gas station, general store, school house, blacksmith shop and the Belle Starr home he preserved, moved and restored on the property.
Lowell has created numerous creative metal sculptures and signs around Carthage, highlighting various businesses, schools and activities of our community.
In 1978, he was one of the founding members of The Midwest Gathering of the Artists, a juried art exhibit and sale held in Carthage for more than thirty years to showcase Midwestern and Western paintings and sculptures.
Throughout his career, Lowell has received numerous industry awards for his paintings and collectibles, both locally and nationally.
He was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2019.
Lowell passed in November, 2020.
Andy Thomas was born in Murfreesboro, TN on September 6, 1957, and moved to Carthage the following year. Andy graduated Carthage High School in 1975 and went on to attend Missouri Southern State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in marketing management.
He had a career as a commercial artist and later director of marketing for Leggett & Platt, Inc. before resigning in 1991 to focus full-time on his own art, namely historical and western narratives.
Perhaps most famous for his hugely popular paintings of the “Grand Ol’ Gang” Republican and “True Blues” Democratic presidents playing cards, Andy paints many subjects – from cowboys, to kids playing sports, tales of the sea, horseracing and more. Many call him ‘The Storyteller’ for his unique ability to bring characters and action to life in his paintings.
Over the years, Andy has completed 29 major paintings for the National Park Service, including Civil War battlefields at Fort Donelson, Fort Henry, and Stones River in Tennessee, as well as Pea Ridge in Arkansas. He has painted numerous Civil War events, primarily the Trans-Mississippi theatre.
His work has been on exhibit and/or is a part of the permanent collections of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Carthage Civil War Museum.
Many of Andy’s historical images have been used in books and as book covers, and various paintings have been featured in numerous magazines. His work has won many awards and throughout his career he has been part of numerous shows from across the United States.
Over his lifetime in Carthage, Andy has shared his talents with the community, first with a mural entitled “Memories of Carthage High” at the Carthage R9 Auditorium on Main Street, later designing the theme artwork for the 2011 Carthage Maple Leaf Celebration and Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and most recently with a design that will fill a major outdoor wall on the Historic Carthage Square.
In 2020, Andy received the Distinguished Alum Award from MSSU. Andy and his wife Dina married in 1988, work together in art, and raised a family of six together in Carthage.
Andy was inducted into the Hall of Carthage Heroes in 2020.