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Famous Missourian Finalists
Christopher "Kit" Bond
Born in St. Louis and raised in Mexico, Missouri, Christopher Samuel "Kit" Bond is a former United States Senator from Missouri and a two-term governor. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, and was re-elected in 1992, 1998, and 2004. Before his career in the U.S. Senate, Kit Bond became the 47th Governor of the State of Missouri on January 8, 1973 at the age of 33 - the youngest governor in Missouri history. Bond was re-elected to a second term as Governor in 1980. Prior to that, he served as State Auditor of Missouri from 1971 to 1973. While serving in the United States Senate, Bond built a reputation as a statesman who worked in a bipartisan way and advocated for a strong and well-equipped U.S. military, improved care for the nation's veterans and men and women in uniform, and better relations with Southeast Asia. He earned the reputation as a reformer of the nation's intelligence community while serving as Vice Chairman on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. He is also recognized as a national leader in the promotion of plant biotechnology.
In 1866 Virginia Minor launched the woman suffrage movement in Missouri, and in 1867 took an active role in founding the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri, which was the first organization in the world to make its exclusive aim that of enfranchising women. She was elected the first president of this organization at their premiere meeting, held on May 8, 1867 in the Director's Room of the Mercantile Library in St. Louis. This meeting predated the National Woman's Suffrage Association, founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the American Women's Suffrage Association founded by Lucy Stone in 1869. She is best remembered as the plaintiff in Minor v. Happersett, an 1874 United States Supreme Court case in which Minor unsuccessfully argued that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to vote.
Born in Butler, Missouri, Robert A. Heinlein is considered one of the greatest American Science Fiction writers of the 20th century. A famous and bestselling author in later life, he graduated from Annapolis and served in the Navy before being forced to retire because of tuberculosis. Heinlein’s most famous works include the Future History series, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
Andrew Taylor Still
Born in Virginia and raised in Tennessee, Andrew Taylor Still eventually settled in Kirksville, Missouri where he founded the American School of Osteopathy. The school, and Still’s creation of osteopathic medicine, was based on his dissatisfaction with 19th century health care. His philosophy of medicine was based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and which focuses on the unity of the body. Dr. Still pioneered the concept of wellness and identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. Still spent the rest of his life running the school and working on his secondary passion of invention. Still passed on December 12, 1917; but the school went on, still educating students in the art of osteopathy to this day. Still is credited today with being the father of osteopathic medicine.
Born in Monroe City, Missouri, Claude T. Smith composed extensively in the areas of instrumental and choral music and his compositions have been performed by leading musical organizations throughout the world. Smith composed more than 110 band works, 12 orchestra works and 15 choral works, and received numerous prestigious commissions including works for the U. S. Air Force Band, the "President's Own" U. S. Marine Band, the U. S. Navy Band, and the Army Field Band. His composition "Flight" was adapted as the "Official March" of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. In addition, he taught instrumental music in the public schools of Nebraska and Missouri and served as a member of the faculty of Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, where he taught composition and theory and conducted the University Symphony Orchestra.
John Brooks Henderson was a United States Senator from Missouri and a co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives in 1848-1850 and 1856-1858, and was commissioned a brigadier general in the Missouri State Militia in 1861, commanding federal forces in northeast Missouri. On January 17, 1862 Henderson was appointed to the U.S. Senate as a Unionist to fill the vacancy caused by the expulsion of Trusten Polk. Later that year, Henderson was elected to a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate. As a United States Senator representing a slave state, Henderson co-authored and co-sponsored the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution permanently prohibiting slavery in the United States.
William Payne Stewart
Born in Springfield, Missouri William Payne Stewart was an American professional golfer who won eleven PGA Tour events, including three major championships in his career, the last of which occurred only months before he died in an airplane accident at the age of 42. Stewart, won his first major PGA championship in 1989 and his first U.S. Open two years later. But his most dramatic victory in a major tournament occurred in June on the final hole at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, where he sank a 15-foot par putt to win the U.S. Open by one stroke over Phil Mickelson.
Widely known for his colorful golfing attire of "plus fours"--pants that resemble knickers--and tam-o'-shanter hat, Stewart won 18 tournaments around the world and $11.7 million during his career.
John William "Blind" Boone
Born in Miami, Missouri, John William “Blind” Boone became, during his lifetime, one of the most loved and respected musicians in America. Boone, the son of a former slave, overcame blindness, poverty and discrimination to become an accomplished composer and concert pianist. Boone is credited, along with Louis Moreau Gottschalk, with giving legitimacy to black music, and is considered one of Missouri’s “Big Three” along with Scott Joplin and James Scott. Boone also was a committed philanthropist who supported local causes and opened his home to the community. He donated generously to several churches, and gave his time and talents to local youth.
Rose O’Neill was a self-trained artist who periodically lived in the Missouri Ozarks throughout her adult life. She built a successful career as a magazine and book illustrator and, at a young age, became the best-known and highest-paid female commercial illustrator in the United States. She also wrote novels and poetry. O’Neill earned a fortune and international fame by creating the Kewpie, the most widely known cartoon character until Mickey Mouse. O’Neill also worked diligently to support the suffragist movement. She drew posters and cartoons and marched in protest parades. Her efforts helped women gain the right to vote in 1920.
Completing 26 years in the Missouri House of Representatives, Sue Shear holds the record for legislative service for women in elected office in Missouri. She served for many years as the chair of the House Committee on Correctional Institutions and Problems. Representing the St. Louis area’s 83rd District, Shear introduced more than 350 pieces of legislation, many addressing women’s and children’s issues. She is probably best known for her very first bill--introducing the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973--which she reintroduced every year until 1982 when the ratification deadline passed. Following her death in 1998, the Missouri House passed a resolution creating the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.
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