A former Sedalian has donated the final $1,000 needed to obtain signs for the renaming of West Broadway Boulevard to Leroy Van Dyke Memorial Highway.
David Wells, now living in Phoenix, Arizona, read the Nov. 7 Democrat article “U.S. Highway 50 east becomes Scott Joplin Memorial Highway.” In the article he found that $1,000 was still needed to obtain the signs for the Van Dyke portion of the highway that will extend from the U.S. Highway 65 intersection west to the city limits. Wells wanted to help.
Wells called the Democrat that same day and was put in touch with City Hall and Mayor Stephen Galliher.
“He’s really a neat guy ,” Galliher said Wednesday in his office. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Galliher noted that when he called Wells, he said he really didn’t know local county music legend Van Dyke, 87, but had attended high school with him when Wells was a junior and Van Dyke a senior. Galliher said he received a letter and the check from Wells on Monday and was surprised and impressed that he sent the whole amount.
“I stared at the check for about 30 minutes,” Galliher said laughing. “I was really shocked. I looked at it and said ‘that’s not a $100, that’s $1,000.’”
He noted that when he initially spoke with Wells he didn’t want to ask him how much he would be donating.
“I thought that would be rude,” he added. “But, it came in and yes he sent the whole $1,000. It was just great.”
“Please accept this check and use it as we discussed,” Wells told the Mayor in his handwritten letter. “Yes! I’d be pleased to contact you the next time I visit there … perhaps have coffee.”
Galliher called Wells on Monday and thanked him and told him they would definitely have coffee or go out to dinner when he came to Sedalia.
“He’s just a cool guy to talk to,” Galliher added.
Galliher also called Van Dyke’s wife, Glades Van Dyke, on Monday. She set a tentative date for the dedication for March 2017. The mayor also placed a call to state Rep. Steve Cookson and state Rep. Nathan Beard, who were instrumental in getting the law passed to rename the highway.
“They were tickled to death about it,” Galliher added. “They wanted me to be sure and let them know when the (dedication) date was.”
The mayor plans to have the dedication at the Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts Inc., as they did for the Scott Joplin Highway signs earlier this month.
Wells’s donation was added to the existing donations of local businesswomen Barbara Hayden and Sue Heckart.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.