LOVE FOR MISSOURI
Love for Missouri
I love Missouri. It is such an incredible and beautiful state – home to the University of Missouri (MIZZOU) and the great City of Saint Louis. Saint Louis is amazing and rich in cultural institutions, sports and attractions beyond all proportion for its size.
I am a life-long Cardinals fan. While I was at the orphanage I used to sneak the radio into my room and hide under the covers listening to the games. I rarely missed a game. One time, when I did miss a game, my friends dared me to call Jack Buck and ask him for the score. So, I pulled out the white pages, looked up Mr. Buck’s phone number and called him. And he answered. And he gave me the score. The Cardinals had won 4-0.
Even when I was living in California, I made trips back home to watch my beloved Cardinals at home or spring training. I was even fortunate enough to go to many games with the late great Stan Musial.
We derive a sense of self from those things which we see as defining our city. As St. Louisans, we define ourselves by our institutions and exceptional programs. We have some of the best in the world and I want it stay that way; that is why I have committed significant resources and time to many of these institutions: Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri History Museum, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Symphony, Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis and St. Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame.
My Uncle taught me how to play chess when I was about 13 years old. I beat him the second time I played him. I have always felt a little guilty about that. I played for the Bishop DuBourg High School chess team and continued to play in college. I started tournament play after graduate school while my wife, Jeanne, was working in Indonesia.
In 2007, Jeanne and I founded the Chess Club and Scholastic Center, a venue where newcomers can learn the game and gurus can compete in local and national tournaments. In September 2011, we opened the World Chess Hall of Fame directly across the street from the Chess Club. We also lent key support to the Boy Scouts of America in their introduction of a Merit Badge in Chess.
For the last ten years chess has permeated Saint Louis’ culture – the Cardinals have chess boards in their locker rooms; the public schools and community centers offer chess lessons; and restaurants host chess nights to draw a crowd. As a host city for a leg of the World Chess Tour and other major tournaments, Saint Louis has become widely recognized as the chess capital of the country.
To paraphrase artist, Romare Bearden: “I never left Missouri, except physically”.
My wife, Jeanne and I, believe strongly that exposure to the arts have life-long benefits. We have been drawn to the artists interested in region: The American Scene Painters. To the extent that these artists reacted against European Expressionism and attempted to establish a distinctive American pictorial language and capture new facets of the American experience, theirs was a patriotic style. Indeed, civic engagement flows beneath the surface of many works in our collection. Thomas Hart Benton, for example, made his name through a series of mural commissions at a time when murals were explicitly public, political statements.
The civic-minded themes that emerge in our collection seem to us to be motivated by the genuine love for the land, respect for the people who work it and concern to record and preserve a way of life. Our collection attests to the fact that the preservation of home requires an ethic of determination and perseverance. It is an idea that resonates powerfully throughout: home as domestic space; home as a region, a city; home as an ideal worth cherishing and protecting.
Jeanne serves on Mizzou’s steering committee and her leadership has been recognized by University officials naming her one of the “Missouri 100” for promoting the University’s missions of excellence in teaching, world-class research and service through scientific discovery.
She also served as a board member for the “All We Call Mizzou” steering committee, which raised $1 billion in five years for scholarships to the University of Missouri.
In July 2016, Jeanne was named chair of the University of Missouri System Review Commission, an eight-member group appointed by the Missouri legislature to study the university’s collected rules and regulations, administrative and campus structure, auxiliary enterprises, degree programs, research activities and diversity programs.
Jeanne’s passion for music is personal. She is a musician herself, playing string bass in two mid-Missouri orchestras, the Columbia Civic Orchestra and the Folk String Orchestra.
She also has been a leader in creating opportunities for young composers, starting back in 2005 with the Creating Original Music Project a statewide competition for students in grades K-12.
The success of this project and my wife’s passion for original music led to two gifts totaling $3 million to the University of Missouri to create the New Music Initiative, an array of programs intended to make Missouri a center for the composition and performance of new music.
The New Music Initiative also includes a high school summer camp for composers; scholarships for composition majors; Composer Connection, a distance-learning program, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble; the annual Sinquefield Composition Prize; and the Mizzou International Composers Festival.
In April 2015, we announced a $10 million donation to build a new music building on Mizzou’s campus in Columbia.
Jeanne likes to say that nearly 30 years ago, I volunteered her to be the den mother for our son’s Boy Scout troop. Well, she didn’t stop at den mother. She was also a troop chairperson, district chairperson and council board member. During her time with the Boy Scouts in Los Angeles, she guided and mentored 53 Eagle Scouts.
Currently, Jeanne is a board member for the Great Rivers Council. She also received the rare distinction of winning two Silver Beaver Awards, from both the Great Rivers Council in 2016 and the Western Los Angeles Council in 2002, for her service to Scouting.
Most recently Jeanne and the Great Rivers Council created the Sinquefield Invention labs. The Labs are two collections of equipment – one mobile, the other at a permanent location – and an accompanying curriculum designed to give Scouts and other students hands-on experience with “maker” technologies while encouraging creative thinking and the development of problem-solving skills, creativity and imagination in a team environment.