Harrogate, Tennessee, June 9, 2017— Family members of the late R. Gerald McMurtry gathered at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on the main campus of Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) on Wednesday, June 5, 2017, to celebrate the legacy of the man who was responsible for building LMU’s Lincoln collection to prominence.
LMU President B. James Dawson recognized the McMurtry family for their generous contributions to LMU and the Museum, including the Lincoln Corner Cabinet which was hand crafted by Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas Lincoln. During the event, Dawson announced the establishment of the R. Gerald McMurtry Honorary Chair in Lincoln Studies.
Although the Lincoln Corner Cabinet has been on display in the Museum gallery for nearly two decades, McMurtry’s son Stephen McMurtry transferred the ownership of the treasured artifact to LMU earlier this year. During the program, Stephen McMurtry, his sister, Susan Rakaseder, and his son, Quinn McMurtry reflected on the cabinet and their father’s time at LMU.
“Although my father gave me the cabinet, I never felt like it belonged to me,” Stephen McMurtry said. “I always felt a treasure like this belonged more to the country than to an individual. It definitely belongs in a museum, and I could not have imagined a better place than here at LMU.”
Rakaseder shared more about how the cabinet found a place in the McMurtry family’s home. “Everyone knew about my father’s interest in Lincoln,” she said. “One night he got a call from a family that said they had something he needed to see. He could tell right away this was something special. He asked if they would sell it and they told him what they really needed was a dinette set. He took them to Montgomery Ward to pick out their dinette set and the Lincoln Corner Cabinet went home with him.”
Quinn McMurtry reflected on Florence McMurtry’s support of her husband’s passion. “Anything my grandfather did, it was because my grandmother allowed him to do so. Today we celebrate her legacy as much as we do his because she was a part of everything he did,” he said.
A renowned Lincoln Scholar, R. Gerald McMurtry served as director of Lincolniana at LMU from 1937 until 1956. During that time he inventoried, catalogued, displayed and expanded the University’s Lincoln collection, which at the time was held in a room in the Duke Hall of Citizenship. He also taught history courses that covered Lincoln’s life and principles, edited the Lincoln Herald, researched and traveled the country giving Lincoln talks. After he left LMU, he served as director of the Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum in Indiana.
“Dr. McMurtury was so much a part of LMU that it is impossible to think of the Lincoln collection or the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum without thinking of him,” Dawson said. “Dr. McMurtry accomplished in his life what few men do. He left behind a legacy of a learned man and a true scholar.”
Gerald and Florence McMurtry passed their passion for all things Lincoln on to their five children; Stephen McMurtry, Susan Rakaseder, Linda Fung, Jan Arnold and the late Joyce McMurtry Squibb. Each have passed their legacy on to the next generations of Lincoln scholars in the family and many of them were present at LMU.
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.