Working quietly behind the scenes for the last two years to preserve that legacy, a dedicated group of volunteers has directed their efforts to propel the history of Los Alamos into the global spotlight.
At Tuesday’s gathering, that group celebrated a significant milestone with a champagne toast. Hundreds of local residents had received invitations marked “Declassified.” They filled the Lodge, which had been decorated with an aura of mystery, not knowing what awaited them.
Los Alamos Historical Society President Ron Wilkins kicked off the festivities, which culminated in the dramatic unveiling of the “History is Here” campaign results, from the largest single capital campaign ever conducted by a non-profit in Los Alamos. The long-range goal of the campaign is to raise $7 million, which will go to support several efforts:
- The collections and archives of the Historical Society;
- The Museum’s ability to enhance its visitors’ experience with new exhibits;
- Bathtub Row press and the publications of the Historical Society;
- The preservation of historically significant buildings; and
- New educational programs and technologies that can reach additional audiences.
The occasion marked the halfway point in the History is Here Campaign, with $3,508,189.18 raised to date.
And why the mystery?
“We wanted to be sure that we could meet our goal and make this sustainable before we went public,” Wilkins said. “The worst thing would be if we asked people to contribute and couldn’t show them results. Now we already have something to show for our efforts–things like the expanded archives, a part time curator, the Bethe House – and the confidence to move ahead with more projects.”
Sharon Stover and Denny Erickson chair the History is Here capital campaign.
“Two years ago, the Board of Directors of our Los Alamos Historical Society committed to a multi-year fundraising campaign to find the means to improve and extend the Society’s capabilities for the preservation and sharing of the history of Los Alamos and the stories of its people,” Erickson said. “Having achieved this significant milestone, we celebrate and are humbled by the generosity and shared commitment of Society members and friends. Now as we move to engage more of us to join the History Is Here effort, we do so with an additional objective, that being our involvement in establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.”
Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan said, “Los Alamos changed the world, and the opportunities to share this history are increasing with the approach of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, media coverage, the national park, and — now — History is Here. The Historical Society will be able to expand its programs and offerings because of the investments our community is making.”
The Manhattan Project National Park will be a great boon to tourism, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said. “The arrowhead (National Park symbol) creates instant recognition. With the Valles Caldera coming under the Park Service umbrella, the Manhattan Project Park, and Bandelier, we have an opportunity to attract significant numbers of visitors to Los Alamos. The Park Service looks forward to partnering with the Los Alamos Historical Society to give these visitors a great experience.”
Lead gifts were received from Clay and Dorothy Perkins, the Delle Foundation (created by George and Satch Cowan) and Los Alamos National Laboratory, which was represented at the celebration by Executive Director Rich Marquez. Bill Enloe presented the Delle Foundation’s contribution, and spoke of the importance of the Historical Society to the community.
Erickson and Stover have been aided in their fundraising efforts by a committee comprised of Ron Wilkins, John and Nancy Bartlit, Lee D’Anna, Mike Wheeler, Katy Korkos, Todd Urbatsch, John Ruminer, the late Fred Roach and his widow, Susan Roach, and Liz Martineau. Honorary chairs of the campaign include former Lab directors Sig Hecker and John Browne as well as Bill Enloe, Jennet Conant and John Hopkins.
Seth Kirshenberg, whose firm Kutac Rock LLP sponsored the event in Fuller Lodge, served as master of ceremonies. Kirshenberg is the Executive Director of the Energy Communities Alliance. Also in attendance were Michelle Jacquez-Ortiz, field representative from U.S. Sen. Tom Udall’s office, Mike Sullivan from Sen. Martin Heinrich’s office, Atomic Heritage Foundation President Cynthia Kelly and Reid Griffith, attorney for the Zenas and Irene Boone estate.
Helene Suydam, former Los Alamos Historical Museum docent and, along with her late husband Jerry, donor of the Oppenheimer House was not able to attend nor were Clay and Dorothy Perkins, the donors of the Hans Bethe House. John Ruminer, Historic Properties chair for the Historical Society, read a statement from the Perkins.
With 600 members and member families from 21 states and two European countries, the Los Alamos Historical Society is the largest historical society in New Mexico. The organization manages the Los Alamos Historical Museum and an extensive archive, produces educational programs for children and adults, publishes books on area history, and owns significant historical buildings for preservation purposes.
Anyone interested in joining the History is Here effort can contact the Historical Society, firstname.lastname@example.org, or any of the committee members. More information is available on the Historical Society’s website, www.losalamoshistory.org.
Bill Enloe, right, presents a $500,000 check on behalf of the Delle Foundation to Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan and Society President Ron Wilkins. Enloe is the honorary chair of the ‘History is Here’ campaign. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
LANL Executive Director Richard Marquez, right, presents a $250,000 check on behalf of the Laboratory to Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan and Society President Ron Wilkins. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
At right, John Ruminer, Historic Properties chair for the Historical Society, presents a $230,000 check from Clay and Dorothy Perkins, the donors of the Hans Bethe House, who were not able to attend Tuesday’s event. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
John Ruminer presents a copy of the deed to the Hans Bethe House on behalf of Clay and Dorothy Perkins to Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan and Society President Ron Wilkins. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Reid Griffith, attorney for the Zenas and Irene Boone estate presents a $250,000 check on their behalf to Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan and Society President Ron Wilkins. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
The ‘History Is Here’ capital campaign has raised half of its $7 million goal to date. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
From left, Seth Kirshenberg, campaign co-chair Sharon Stover, John Ruminer, campaign co-chair Denny Erickson and Bill Enloe. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
‘History is Here’ Major Gifts Co-chair Lee D’Anna speaks of the ways people may donate to the Los Alamos Historical Society. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Denny Erickson, left, receives the Los Alamos History Medallion for his tireless work to help raise funds to preserve the history of Los Alamos. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Denny Erickson with his Los Alamos History Medallion, awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the mission of the Los Alamos Historical Society. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott speaks about passage of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Atomic Heritage Foundation President Cynthia Kelly addresses the crowd. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
From left, LANL Executive Director Rich Marquez, honorary chairs of the campaign former LANL Director Sig Hecker and scientist John Hopkins, Reid Griffith, attorney for the Zenas and Irene Boone estate and campaign committee member Katy Korkos. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Dignitaries at Tuesday’s event receive champagne to toast the success of the History Is Here Capital Campaign. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
Audience members prepare to toast. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
Former LANL Director Sig Hecker, left, and LANL scientist John Hopkins. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
From left, John Ruminer, Kyle Wheeler and Ron Wilkins. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
From left, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, Seth Kirshenberg of the Energy Communities Alliance and Eric Vasquez of the Regional Development Corporation. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
Los Alamos ‘History Nuts’ Sharon Snyder, left, and Judy Machen. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
Janet Gonzales Morgan, left, with Lee D’Anna. Gonzales Morgan is the granddaughter of homesteader Enriques Gonzales and her father worked at the Ranch School. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com
Blue Window Bistro owner Melissa Paternoster received glowing praise for her elegant catering of Tuesday’s special event. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladilypost.com