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Roosevelt comes alive

May 2, 2014
Tim Chapman - Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

Steve Stark's right palm grew darker and darker as he worked his way down the east wall of the Rugby Eagles Club on Sunday.

The Fargo-based historian and cartoonist brought a blank white canvas to life with his charcoal utensil, capturing the imaginations of about 60 people at the Prairie Village Museum's Kick-Off dinner.

Stark's illustrated history of Theodore Roosevelt included five drawings of the former president and other influential character's in Teddy's life.

Article Photos

Tim Chapman/PCT
Fargo historian and cartoonist Steve Stark does his illustrated history of Theodore Roosevelt at the Prairie Village Museum Kick-Off Dinner on April 27 at Rugby Eagles Club.

The presentation included Stark's impersonation of Roosevelt's high-pitched and authoritative voice and detailed the New York native's transformation from an inquisitive, young student to the Roughrider and, eventually, President of the United States.

"As a young man, he'd been to Europe, but out in the West and Little Missouri, he found a piece of heaven," Stark said.

Stark told of how Roosevelt became friends with Harvard classmate Henry Minot, the railroad executive and namesake of the Magic City. The audience learned about Roosevelt losing his mother and first wife in a matter of six hours and saying: "The light has gone out of my life forever."?Stark told of Roosevelt's time in the badlands and Medora, and how the westerners referred to him as "Four Eyes," because of his air of aristocracy. His fame quickly spread as he spent more time with the cowboys and ranchers, and eventually Roosevelt led the first U.S. Cavalry in battle on Cuba.

Not unlike Stark, Roosevelt wrote letters and drew cartoons for his children whenever he was on the road. Stark's history included Roosevelt's time with famous black educator Booker T. Washington, which enraged the southern press. Roosevelt also made major impacts still seen today with the preservation of millions of acres for parks, game preserves and forests.

"I don't think you can think about anything good in American history that wasn't influenced by T.R.," Stark said.

Stark has illustrated for 15 years and impersonated Roosevelt since 1983. He also impersonates Abraham Lincoln and other historic figures. Stark urged the audience to embrace the Prairie Village Museum as local history is as important as the national history he enjoys sharing.

"The reason I like a county museum is it's such a grassroots museum," said Stark, a former director of the Cass County Historical Society. "People are taking family artifacts and putting them on display and preserving the history of people who came before.

"Even if you're not from here, the history welcomes you. I really believe that and it's something I'm passionate about. We as people are tied and connected to one another."



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