The U.S. National Coast Guard Museum Association, Inc. announced commitments of over $4 million in pledges from private and corporate sponsors during a special event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
The pledges for construction of America’s first National Coast Guard Museum were announced as President George H. W. Bush and other noted supporters from across the country hosted an advanced screening of Walt Disney Pictures’ production of “The Finest Hours."
The advanced screening of the film, which chronicles a dramatic Coast Guard rescue off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952, was not a fundraising event. Instead, the invitation-only screening was intended to raise awareness about the museum. The awareness was certainly raised, marking a tremendous success.
“This wonderful event, which was focused around Disney’s exciting portrayal of one of the greatest rescues in Coast Guard history, truly emphasizes the need and generous support for our museum,” said Richard J. Grahn, President and Executive Director of the National Coast Guard Museum Association. “It’s also a testimony to the power of this and other great stories of human courage and sacrifice by uniformed members of the United States Coast Guard, which will be featured and displayed with the honor they deserve in the National Coast Guard Museum.”
The movie is based on the bestselling book, “The Finest Hours,” co-authored by Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias. Sherman attended the advanced screening and presented the evening’s hosts, President and Mrs. Bush, with signed copies of the book.
The museum, which is now in the pre-construction design phase, will be a celebration of the Coast Guard’s 225 years of service to the country, a salute to the courage and skill of its dedicated men and women, and a glimpse into its exciting and vital future, Grahn said.
The Museum used the occasion of the screening to announce the following pledges:
• The largest pledge was made by James David Power III and the Power family foundation, Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, which each provided support of $1 million for the museum. A pioneer in customer satisfaction research, Power founded J.D. Power and Associates and built it into a global brand. Power served as a commissioned officer on a Coast Guard icebreaker in the Arctic and Antarctica from 1953-1957, after which he earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Business before joining Ford Motor Company.
• Donald “Boysie” Bollinger, chairman and chief executive officer of Bollinger Enterprises and a long-time supporter of the importance of this museum, pledged $1 million in support. Bollinger is the chairman and chief executive officer of Bollinger Enterprises and the former chairman and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards Inc., established in 1946. The United States Coast Guard has called upon Bollinger Shipyards to build many of its patrol vessels.
• The members of the American Waterways Operators (AWO), the national association of the nation’s tugboat, towboat, and barge industry, are also making significant commitments to the museum. Commitments to date are approaching $2 million, with cornerstone pledges from Jeffersonville, Indiana-based American Commercial Lines, Nashville-based Ingram Barge Company, and Houston-based Kirby Corporation. Local AWO member, Merichem, has recently added its pledge to the growing list of commitments from AWO member companies. Kirby chairman Joe Pyne, American Commercial Lines CEO Mark Knoy, and Merichem CEO Kendra Lee were recognized at the event for their companies’ commitments.
Others in attendance included former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the 25th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral Paul Zukunft, and U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas 18th District).
The National Coast Guard Museum Association, Inc. is continuing its work to raise funds from private and corporate donations for construction of the $100 million National Coast Guard Museum on the historic waterfront in downtown New London, Connecticut.