The Texas Maritime Museum (TMM) celebrated its 30th anniversary Friday, June 28 with some wine and many of the museum’s influential individuals who helped shape what it is today.
TMM Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roberts-Douglass opened the ceremonies and made it a point to recognize Gordon Stanley, one of the museum’s early founders. He couldn’t make the ceremony due to a recent back surgery he had in Maine.
“He wanted to be here so bad, but you (audience) are,” said Roberts-Douglass.
Aransas County Judge C. H. “Burt” Mills commended the museum and its staff’s resiliency in bouncing back after the significant damage it received during Hurricane Harvey.
“I look forward to 30 more years of the Maritime Museum and I hope to be here for it,” said Mills.
Rockport City Council Member Barbara Gurtner reminisced about the days when she first moved to Rockport and volunteered as a docent at the museum.
“I became a docent here and it was my favorite, heartfelt thing to do the school tours. I loved doing it,” said Gurtner.
Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick praised the rich history the museum preserves and its hardworking volunteers who keep it going.
“Every person in this room and every person in Aransas County is blessed to have this place,” said Kendrick.
Former Museum President Susie Bracht-Black talked about the museum’s early hardships and the battle between Rockport and Galveston to be designated the official Texas Maritime Museum.
“It was a nail biting day as our legislators beat em’ (Galveston) to the punch,” said Bracht-Black.
Roberts-Douglass spoke on behalf of former TMM President Ed Rainwater, whom was unable to make the event due to medical issues. She said that he would have talked about raising funds for the TMM Lighthouse in 1999. The six-week campaign for the Lighthouse went so well in 1999 they were able to save enough funds to build the TMM’s administration building in 2003.
Past President and current TMM Trustee Sally Reynolds spoke about the trials and tribulations of building the TMM’s Education Center in 2009. She said it was a trying time to raise funds because of the recession the country was going through. Nevertheless, the TMM persevered.
“During this time frame, museums in Texas and all across the country were closing, but the TMM, and I quote, ‘Clearly demonstrated its attention and commitment to standards and best practices, ongoing institutional improvement, and being a leader in the museum field.’ That was from a letter we received from the American Alliance of Museums congratulating us on the opening of the Education Center,” said Reynolds.
Following Reynolds, TMM Board President JoAnn Taylor announced the day was very special; not only because it was the museum’s 30th anniversary, but also because the museum had submitted its application for re-accreditation.
“Hopefully, we will have received that re-accreditation in January 2020,” said Taylor.
Mah Jongg creator Nancy Melcher spoke about the history and extended success that Mah Jongg tournaments have had in fundraising for the TMM.
“Thirty years later, I’m proud to have been a part of the story that is the Texas Maritime Museum Mah Jongg Tournament,” said Melcher.
Belle Ball creator Suzan McLallen spoke about the history of the Belle Ball and how the idea came to fruition.
Rockport Wine Festival creator Mindy Durham spoke about the inspiration to bring a wine festival to Rockport after taking a visit to a wine festival in Fredericksburg in 1996.
“The museum has ‘popped the cork’ for these past 23 years to what has become a first class wine festival,” said Durham.
Reynolds then recognized Roberts-Douglass for her dedication to the TMM.
An emotional Roberts-Douglass raised her glass of wine and led everyone in attendance in a toast for the TMM.
“Cheers for 30 years,” Roberts-Douglass concluded.