As a volunteer and advocate for the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, Larry Burkholder has always been willing to do whatever hard work needs to be done.
As a member of Knoxville Area Model Railroaders (KAMR), he has developed a mutually beneficial relationship between the railroaders and the Museum, and his hard work and perseverance has continued for years, according to Ronnie Bogard.
“Larry spearheaded the work renovating what was the former preschool area (of the Museum) for the KAMR club rooms; he helped set up the World of Trains exhibit; and he coordinated with Mark Fuhrman on the outdoor train garden,” explained Bogard, in presenting Burkholder recently with the Selma Shapiro Friend of the Child Award for 2019.
“Larry notices what need to be done, and then arranges the manpower to accomplish the projects,” added Bogard, Museum Advisory Board member and daughter of Selma Shapiro, executive director of the Museum for its first 31 years.
During his nearly 20 years of volunteering with the museum, he has organized the model railroaders to help with constructing office and meeting rooms, working on renovations of the Tennessee Valley Authority Waterworks exhibit, and constructing storage areas. When the University of Tennessee Solar House was offered to the Museum, Burkholder helped ensure that the grounds would be prepared for it. And for years, Bogard said, he has helped organize fundraising auctions for the Museum’s Galas and recruited model railroaders to help serve at the events.
“When the floors needed refinishing in several areas of the Museum, he and his train guys were there to make it happen,” Bogard said. “He isn’t just an idea guy, he is a ‘get-it-done guy,’ my mother’s favorite kind of person.”
Burkholder is a former Children’s Museum board president and continues to chair the Museum’s Advisory Board.
Bogard said Burkholder’s donations supporting exhibits, including donations matched by his employer before he retired, were essential in the Appalachian Exhibit renovation and in bringing new projects, including the Environmental Learning Center and Healthy Living exhibit, to the Museum.
“My mother was devoted to these same ideals—passion, generosity, commitment, and connections. She was always so proud of the work Larry accomplished, and she valued his loyalty to the Museum,” Bogard said. “There is no question that Larry’s connections with other people, and the respect that people have for him, are what ensures that this Museum continues to thrive.”
In honor of the Friend of the Child Award, and in memory of Selma Shapiro, the Shapiro family presented a $1,000 gift to the Children’s Museum.
Bogard said her mother’s vision was that the Museum would focus on the history, culture, and arts of this community.
“She knew that learning should go beyond the classroom, and she wanted the Museum to teach our children how to think beyond themselves, and to have fun,” Bogard said. Selma Shapiro knew that volunteers and supporters who get involved and take on leadership roles help determine just how much the Museum can accomplish, her daughter added.
The annual Friend of the Child Award honors an individual who has contributed in a significant way to the success of the Children’s Museum.
The Children’s Museum, at 461 West Outer Drive in Oak Ridge, is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Museum admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors ages 62 and older, and $6 for children ages 3-18. Admission is free for children under 3 and museum members.
For more information, see the Children’s Museum website at http://childrensmuseumofoakridge.org/ or call (865) 482-1074.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
This press release and photos were submitted by Kay Brookshire.
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