People with Ties to Excelsior Springs
Bonnie and Clyde
Bush, Hilary A.
Colburn, Frank S.
Curtiss, Louis Singleton
Ellett, Marion Deborah
Herring, Fern Lord
Hinds, George E.
Jarman, Martha Foley
Judd, Donald Clarence
Snyder, John P.
Truman, Harry S.
Woods, William Stone
Bonnie & Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde made a brief appearance in 1934 three months before they were killed when they passed along the west edge of Excelsior Springs and made an uneventful stop at Phillips Tavern on Highway 69.
Bonnie Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) and Clyde Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were notorious outlaws who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression.
Dr. Ben Aaron, the surgeon who removed the bullet from the left lung of President Ronald Reagan, was a three sport athlete at North Kansas City High School. As a senior he played end on the 1949 Hornet football team that lost the Mineral Water Bowl, 12-6 to an undefeated Tiger Team.
On June 22, 1932, gangster Lonnie Affronti shot and killed a local woman in an ambush shoot-out on Highway 10 between Excelsior Springs and Richmond. The slain woman, Azelea Ross, was the chief witness in a narcotics trial against Affronti. Her husband, Thomas Ross, and a third victim, Homer "Hedley" Morrison, were shot but both survived.The gangland helped hide him for five years until he was apprehended in Brooklyn in 1937. One of his accomplices, Charley Harvey, was captured by local police, however. He hung himself in the city jail a short time later and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.
Erin Brockovich was born June 22, 1960, in Lawrence, Kansas, the youngest child of Frank Pattee an industrial engineer, and Betty Jo Pattee, a journalist. In 1955 her parents lived in Excelsior Springs on Maple Street near Wyman School. They were good friends of the Johnson's who owned the dairy in town (where Wabash is now).
Hilary A. Bush
Hilary A. Bush (June 21, 1905 - May 11, 1966) was born in Excelsior Springs. He was a Democratic Party politician and the 37th lieutenant governor from 1961 to 1965, serving under Missouri Governor John M. Dalton.
Bush played an influential role in the merger of the University of Kansas City with the University of Missouri system to form the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Antonio Cammisa "Tony Shirt" of Kansas City was found slain in an abandoned car west of the Elms garage on South Kansas City Avenue in Excelsior Springs on March 16, 1938. The car was registered to "Anthony Shortino." He had been shot eight times and beaten. He was one of Kansas City's fifty "outstanding police characters," convicted of narcotic charges and assaulting a Kansas City building inspector.
Frank S. Colburn
Frank Saywood Colburn (November 10, 1856 - January 4, 1932) died at the Veterans Hospital in Excelsior Springs and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery. The aged veteran of the Spanish American War claimed to be the man who posed for the famous war poster, "Uncle Sam Wants You."
James Montgomery Flagg's 1917 poster was used to recruit soldiers for both World War I and World War II. Flagg said he used a modified version of his own face for Uncle Sam and by some accounts Flagg had a neighbor, Walter Botts, pose for the drawing.
Louis Singleton Curtiss
Louis Singleton Curtiss (July 1, 1865 - June 24, 1924), well-known architect, designed the Clay County State Bank Building, 101 E. Broadway, home of the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives. Notable as a pioneer of the curtain wall design, he was once described as "the Frank Lloyd Wright of Kansas City". He designed more than 200 buildings during his career with about 30 examples of his work still in Kansas City, Missouri.
Count Edmund deSzaak is best known in Excelsior Springs for painting in 1919 the murals in the museum, The Angelus (north wall above entry door) and The Gleaners (south wall above vault door). These are reproductions of the works by Jean-Francois Millet, but are considered local treasures. Click here for more information.
Marion Deborah Ellett graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 1966. She was the poetry editor for the City Inner & Outer Magazine, which was devoted chiefly to minority affairs and success stories. Her poetry book "From Them I Came" published in 1973 included some poems she wrote when she was 13 years old.
William W. "Bill" Grigsby (February 13, 1922 - February 26, 2011) was an American sportscaster and member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
The longtime Chiefs announcer, Bill Grigsby and his broadcast partner, Merle Harmon, were the play-by-play voices for Kansas City A's baseball in the late fifties and early sixties. In the fall they teamed for a high school football game of the week and an annual broadcast of the Mineral Water Bowl.
In 1961 Grigsby purchased the Schlitz distributorship in Excelsior Springs. He personally drove the beer delivery truck and operated the franchise. In 1973 he sold it to become the announcer for the Chiefs.
Fern Lord Herring (March 22, 1895 - May 31, 1975) was born in Excelsior Springs, the daughter of George Lord, Sr., and Louise F. Hyder. She and her husband Edgar Tillman Herring moved to Wyoming in 1929 where she became a well-known artist, writer and lecturer. Her career as an artist spanned nearly 40 years and she sold over 350 paintings.
In 1970 Herring was commissioned to do five paintings of Excelsior Springs including the original Elms Hotel, a Mulesta mule, the first Siloam Spring pavilion, and the Jesse James home. The Museum has several of her paintings and numerous drawings in its collection. More Information.
George E. Hinds
George Edward Hinds (April 26, 1907 - January 1973), the son of George Edward Hinds, Sr., was born in Texas. He was the "nephew" of Dr. James Tipton Rice & Marietta "Nettie" Mitchell, living with them on Caldwell Street during his childhood and graduating from Excelsior Springs High School in 1925.
He earned a degree in chemistry from William Jewell College and a masters degree and doctorate in organic chemistry from Perdue University.
Hinds was the inventor of several chemical processes including the method of odorizing gases which helped detects gas leaks.
Lester Hutchings (April 7, 1896 - February 12, 1951) the son of Ephraim S. and Sarah O. Hutchings, was born and reared on a small farm near Excelsior Springs. He graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 1915. On January 30, 1924, he and Marguerite Duncan were married in Jackson County, Missouri.
Hutchings worked for Western Auto as an Associate (1928 - 1938), First Vice President (1938 - 1942), and President (1942 - 1951)
Martha Foley Jarman (October 19, 1927 - June 6, 1991) was born in Daviess County. She lived in Excelsior Springs with her husband of 43 years, Lindell K. Jarman, and three children.
Jarman was a Missouri State Representative from 1982 to 1991, serving as chairwoman of the House Local Government Committee in 1987.
Brenda Joyce (February 25, 1917 - July 4, 2009) was born Betty Leabo in Excelsior Springs to Grafton Lee Leabo and Rosalie Roberts Leabo. Her father nicknamed her "Graftina." She and her mother moved to Los Angeles when Brenda was five.
She started her career as a model. She was signed as an actress by Fox in 1939 and later moved to RKO. She played Jane in Johnny Weissmuller's last three Tarzans and in Lex Barker's Tarzan's Magic Fountain. Film highlights include The Rains Came (1939); Tarzan and the Amazons (1945); The Enchanted Forest (1945); Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946); Little Giant (1946); Tarzan and the Huntress (1947); Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948); Shaggy (1948); Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949).
Donald Clarence Judd (June 3, 1928 - February 12, 1994) was born in his grandparents' farmhouse in Excelsior Springs to Roy C. Judd and Effie Cowsert Judd.
He was one of the foremost American postwar artists and a major figure in the Minimalist art movement. For more information click here.
Elinor Karpf (December 27, 1939 - October 21, 2013) was born Elinor Ann Kimes to local dentist Hadley Kimes and Elinor Rapson Kimes. She was a 1957 graduate of Excelsior Springs High School. She and her husband Stephen Karpf wrote the script for the movie "Adam at Six A.M." Scenes from the movie were filmed at Excelsior Springs, with Michael Douglas in the lead and many local residents playing bit parts.
She also wrote or co-wrote for General Hospital, Dynasty, City of Angels, The Jayne Mansfield Story, Kung Fu, Gargoyles, Ironside, The Rolling Man and many others.
It is rumored that Johanna Maria "Jenny" Lind (October 6, 1820 - November 2, 1887), the famous Swedish Nightingale, gave a concert from the porch of the Seybold Tavern in August 1848 on her way to entertain soldiers at Fort Leavenworth. There is no evidence of this and recent accounts differ.
One of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, she performed in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and across Europe. In 1850, Lind came to America at the invitation of the showman P. T. Barnum. She gave 93 large-scale concerts for him and then continued to tour under her own management.
Shaun Michael Marcum was born December 14, 1981, in Kansas City and raised in Excelsior Springs, graduating here in 2000. He was a professional baseball pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, and Cleveland Indians. In 2015, he became the pitching coach for the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers. He joined the Missouri Southern Lions as their pitching coach in August 2016.
Rodney Morris, native of Brookfield, Missouri, was nationally known for his Missouri style music. He is in the composer "Hall of Fame" and wrote over 400 tunes, including "Bimbo" which was later recorded by both Gene Autry and Jim Reeves. He worked with performers such as Tennessee Ernie Ford, Smiley Burnett, Eddie Arnold and Ernest Tubb and appeared on the "Grand 'ol Opry" many times.
In 1963 "Rod and the Missourians" played at the local High School Auditorium and donated all the profits to the Recreation Department to help pay off the new community center. Rod said "I consider Excelsior Springs my home now, and I'm happy to do my part for the kids."
Hiram Page (circa 1800 - August 12, 1852) was one of the eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite his prominence in the early church founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr., Page separated from the church in 1838, settled on a farm near present-day Excelsior Springs, and lived there in relative obscurity until his death.
It was once believed that Page was buried in Pisgah Cemetery but the current owners of Page's farm knew he was buried on their property. After discovering the grave site family members laid out a stone-border and erected a monument in his honor.
John Cyrus "Jack" Reagan was claimed to have been a cousin of Ronald "Dutch" Reagan, a rising young actor just making a name for himself in Hollywood and later 40th President of the United States. So far no genealogical connection has been made between the two Reagans. Jack, an engineer at the local Veterans Hospital, was born in 1872 in Fair Haven, Illinois, and had lived in Excelsior Springs 26 years at the time of his death in 1944. Ronald Reagan was born about 40 miles away in Tampico, Illinois.
John P. Snyder
John P. Snyder (1886-1948) toured internationally with various circuses , including Barnes-Carruthers, Gus Sun, Ernie Young, Orrin Davenport and E. K. Fernandez. He had been a lion and leopard trainer with Ringling Brothers, Barnum-Bailey Circus. After being clawed in the circus ring by a leopard, he turned to training bears. In addition to his live act, he provided animal performers for the films We're Not Dressing (1934) and The Red Stallion (1947).
John P. Snyder was once the manager of the amusement Auditorium Theatre and the father of Clarence Snyder.
Fred Tripp of Beloit, Wisconsin, was 71 years old when he looked out his hospital window at McCleary Hospital in Excelsior Springs and was inspired by the flag flying atop the post office across the street. Mr. Tripp was an interior decorator specializing in painting but not trained in fine art painting, yet he produced a masterpiece, an inspiring, compelling expression on canvas of what he felt in his heart and soul about the Flag of his Country. He presented this six foot oil painting to the hospital. More information.
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman spent election evening November 2, 1948, at the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs. It was the next day, November 3, that the Chicago Daily Tribune printed an incorrect banner headline "Dewey Defeats Truman".
Lyle Wesley Waggoner was born April 13, 1935, in Kansas City, Kansas, at Bethany Hospital. He and his family lived on Magnolia in Excelsior Springs at the time of his birth and during his early childhood. Waggoner graduated from Kirkwood High School and studied at Washington University in St. Louis. He was the grandson of long-time municipal judge Arthur Waggoner.
Waggoner is an actor and former model, known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show from 1967 to 1974 and for playing the role of Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman from 1975 to 1979.
Gregg Williams was born July 15, 1958, in Excelsior Springs and graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 1976. In high school he excelled in football as quarterback, was leading scorer in basketball his senior year and had most strike outs as a baseball pitcher.
He was assistant basketball & football coach in Excelsior Springs (1981-1984), head football coach at Belton High School (1984-1987) and assistant coach for the University of Houston (1988-1989). He then held coaching positions with various NFL teams including Houston Oilers (1990–1996), Tennessee Oilers/Titans (1997–2000), Buffalo Bills (2001–2003), Washington Redskins (2004–2007), Jacksonville Jaguars (2008), New Orleans Saints (2009–2011), St. Louis Rams (2012), Tennessee Titans (2013), Los Angeles Rams (2014–2016), Cleveland Browns (2017–2018), and New York Jets (2019–present).
William S. Woods
William Stone Woods (November 1, 1840 - July 5, 1917) was born in Columbia, Missouri, and graduated from Missouri State University in 1861. He died at the Elms Hotel. More information.
He was one of the post powerful financiers in Missouri. In 1902 he acquired controlling interest in the Clay County State Bank, located then at the corner of Broadway and Marietta. A new bank located at 101 E. Broadway was completed in 1906 (the current home of the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives.)
In the early 1900s Woods bequeathed $35,000 for a new church building, now known as Woods Memorial Christian Church. He left an estate estimated to be worth $5 million, approximately 10 percent of which went to William Woods College.