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Truman to speak at Museum & Archives’ dinner

November 2, 2018—The annual benefit dinner for the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives will have a special guest this year: President Harry S. Truman will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of his stay at the Elms Hotel on Election Night 1948.

Raymond Starzmann, a historian and re-enactor with a lifelong passion for politics and the American Presidency, will entertain attendees as President Truman at the Museum’s keynote annual event, which will be held Nov. 8 at the Montgomery Event Venue in historic downtown Excelsior Springs.

Harry S. Truman

Raymond Starzmann portrays President Harry S. Truman as he speaks about American history. Starzmann will appear at The Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives’ keynote annual dinner event Thursday, Nov. 8. Submitted photo

Starzmann’s performance will be largely extemporaneous—and questions from the audience will be answered in the presidential first-person.  His appearance is sponsored by The Blauvelt Law Firm, LLC. In addition, the Museum is partnering with The Elms Hotel and Spa, where “President Truman” will extend his visit in Excelsior Springs by staying in the Truman suite. He will be available for photos with visitors at The Elms on the afternoon of Nov. 8 and the morning of Nov. 9, and at the Museum event that Thursday evening at the Montgomery Venue.

Michael J. Devine, former director of the Truman Library, where Starzmann has appeared numerous times, said Starzmann’s re-enactments “present solid history, based on considerable research and a deep love of history,” adding they are “educational as well as highly entertaining.”

Starzmann said he became fascinated with history as a grade schooler in Philadelphia and later earned a political science degree at Park University in Parkville. “As I got older, I started reading history and began corresponding with people who made history.” He possesses volumes of letters signed by American political figures including Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Adlai Stevenson and numerous others. He met and visited with President Truman on several occasions.

Visitors to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City may have encountered his generous smile in the bookstore, where Starzmann was known for sharing his deep knowledge of history and art as a staff member for 20 years before his retirement.

A natural born educator, in 1998 Starzmann found an opportunity to share his love of history with broad audiences by performing as a historical re-enactor largely focused on Truman’s history and life. Subsequently, Starzmann has added Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson and regional figures to his repertoire. 

Last year in November, Starzmann portrayed Harry Truman at the Blair House 75th Anniversary celebration hosted by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, D.C. Over the past 18 years Starzmann has given presentations to groups ranging from schoolchildren to state legislators. He has spoken to diverse audiences at historical venues such as The Truman Library and Institute, The Mount Rushmore Memorial Society, the Smithsonian Associates and to business organizations including Deloitte Consulting LLP International Convention, the American Business Women’s Association and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society National Conference. He has taken his programs to 12 states from Vermont to South Dakota to California.

Starzmann has starred on the Kansas City Public Library program “Meet the Past,” in conjunction with Kansas City Public Television. He was a featured guest speaker for the 57th Reunion of the 509th Composite Group, the veterans who dropped the two atomic bombs. 

In his role as Harry Truman he makes frequent appearances and does programs for the Truman Library. Additionally, he is the Kansas City Coordinator for the National Road Scholar Travel programs as both tour guide and presenter. 

Everyone is invited to the Museum’s annual dinner, but tickets should be purchased now to ensure a seat. Tickets are $40 and will be available for sale through Nov. 6 at the Museum at 101 East Broadway or online at

In addition to the remarks by “President Truman,” the annual dinner will again feature the always entertaining Jimmy McCullough in an auction that will benefit the Museum. Highlighting the auction will be original “hubcap art” that was on display throughout the town during this past summer’s “Second Time Around: The Hubcap as Art” exhibition at the Museum. Several local artists have donated their hubcap pieces for the auction.

The evening will begin at 5:30 with a social hour as attendees gather for the dinner at 6:15. “President Truman” will appear at 7:15 p.m., and the auction is expected to begin at 8:15 p.m.

By Standard Staff •

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2 Responses to Truman to speak at Museum & Archives’ dinner

  1. Susan Estilow Reply

    November 4, 2018 at 9:35 am

    I so wish I could be there to see this. Will there be a video or Facebook Live Stream of all of it made to be posted? I live in West Des Moines, Iowa, I am almost as old as PresidentTruman’s election night stay in Excelsior Springs, and my parents met and fell in love in Excelsior Springs and brought my brother and I back to the Elms Hotel as children and I still come to town and stay at the hotel as often as I can. Could you ask Mr. Starzmann for an autographed dated picture of himself at this event for me? Thank you. Best wishes on this event. I love history and Excelsior Springs.
    Susan Estilow

  2. James Armistead Reply

    November 5, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Kurt Graham, Ph.D. is the current Director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Michael Devine, Ph.D., hasn’t been the Director of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum for several years.

    Jim Armistead, Archives Specialist, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum

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