The Sampson County History Museum has grown exponentially over the years in paying tribute to the county’s rich heritage. Now museum officials are honoring those responsible for that growth, chief among them David and Jeannie King.
This Saturday, June 28, the Sampson County History Museum board is hosting an appreciation event on the grounds of the History Museum on Lisbon Street. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a program highlighting the Kings at 11:30 a.m.
“The museum board wanted to recognize them since David was one of the co-founders of the museum and Jeannie was director for a number of years, and they both officially retired in March,” said Janna Bass, executive director of the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, speaking on behalf of the Sampson County History Museum’s Board of Directors, which is hosting the event.
“The museum board wanted to recognize and appreciate them for all of their dedication and passion for the history of Sampson County.”
This event is open to the public. All of the buildings will be open for guests to walk the grounds, and vendors offering barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, funnel cakes and much more will be set up for guests to purchase lunch. There will also be live music.
“We would love to have between 400 and 500 in attendance throughout the day as we celebrate with our sponsors and David and Jeannie King (honoring them) for their dedication to the museum,” Bass noted. The 11:30 a.m. program will honor the Kings along with other “friends of the museum,” including sponsors.
“There will be a special dedication during that program,” Bass remarked. “It’s a surprise.”
Ronnie Jackson, president of the History Museum Board, said as the museum transitions into a new chapter, it is important to recognize those who have contributed so much over the years. No one has given more than David and Jeannie, he said.
“I think we all recognize it’s important to do that,” Jackson said of honoring the Kings. “They put in a lot of years there. This is also about recognizing some other friends of the museum, but the spotlight will be on David and Jeannie more than anything else.”
Bass has called the History Museum a “hidden jewel” of the county and credited the Kings with turning a passion into the top tourist attraction within Sampson County. Jackson agreed.
“I think it’s safe to say there wouldn’t be a museum if it hadn’t been for their dedication and the time they spent there. David has worked as an unpaid person there all these years. He did it because he loves it and it’s what he likes to do. He just has a passion for it and he just spent a lot of his time there.”
The Chamber of Commerce is currently assisting the History Museum’s Board of Directors — David King is still a board member — with “bigger picture items” such as marketing and grant-writing, all in an effort to help preserve what the Kings have started.
“The History Museum has been a vision of David and Jeannie’s and they have dedicated so much time and resources to it that they’ve truly made the museum what it is today. Moving forward, the Museum Board of Directors’ vision is to continue what David and Jeannie have established and continue to grow it,” said Bass.
The museum has gained quite a few partners along the way and it is the hope of museum and Chamber officials that those partnerships will prove fruitful in the future.
“Right now, we’re just making sure we have all of our partnerships lined up, and we are working on a five-year plan on where we want the museum to be, what projects we want to feature and how we will raise the money to do it.” Bass said. “That’s something we are working on now.”
Before the museum board, its friends, partners and sponsors move forward, it’s important to recognize those who have laid the foundation, and without whom there would not even be a museum. That is the reason for Saturday’s event, organizers said.
“The museum has grown beyond anyone’s expectations. It’s mind-boggling what’s there now,” Jackson said. “Their impact is what has made that what it is, and you’re not going to find another David or Jeannie.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.