Historian, Community Activist, Teacher, Musician, Minister, Wordsmith
Marvin L. VanGilder was known to most in Carthage as the keeper of Carthage history for our generation. He was the prime promoter of the Hall of Carthage Heroes, and his words are engraved on the mural at the entrance to the Hall.
Marvin had several careers during his long productive life. As a young man he was a professional musician and earned a Bachelor of Music Education Degree at Drury College. He spent seven years teaching music, English and history, at several schools in southern Missouri before bringing his wife Irene and family to Carthage in 1955. Together they would have four daughters and a son.
Marvin worked two different times for KDMO radio, where he, among many other duties, produced the popular “Moments for Remembering” series highlighting unique moments in Carthage history, which still runs today.
He spent many years with The Carthage Press in a variety of roles. As a journalist he received numerous awards as a writer and photographer. It was an editorial on Civil Rights that earned him the prestigious “George Washington Honor Medal” by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. His Press articles and editorials often focused on improving Carthage and promoting its history.
He was considered internationally as the leading expert on the Battle of Carthage during the Civil War, and on the life and music of ragtime pianist James Scott, another member of this Hall. His poetry, editorials and articles were published in newspapers, magazines and books throughout the world and he published his own books on poetry and local history.
VanGilder was the primary force behind the creation of the Battle of Carthage State Park and the Maple Leaf Festival. He served as President of the Carthage Board of Education, Chairman of the Maple Leaf Festival, Chairman of the committee to develop the Civil War Museum, President of the Jasper County Historical Society, and served on the boards of the Red Cross, Mental Health Association, Sunshine Children’s Home, Lions Club, United Way, and others.
Among Marvin’s numerous other awards he was named as the 1971 Distinguished Alumnus of Drury College, and was chosen the first recipient of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award in 1989. In 2007, he was named an Outstanding Missouri Citizen by the Missouri Legislature and recognized by the United States House of Representatives for his achievements.
He was born in Lamar, Missouri on September 24, 1926, and passed away in Carthage on July 11, 2010, at age 83. For over 50 years Marvin VanGilder was a devoted voice for the betterment of Carthage and the preservation of its history, and as such he is certainly worthy of inclusion in the Hall of Carthage Heroes.