Vol. 116 No.2, pp 12-13
The SAR Foundation previewed the forthcoming SAR Education Center and Museum on 28 August 2021 with numerous presentations, a magic show and the faux unveiling of the Albert Keiser Jr. Liberty Theatre, named for a $1 million challenge gift from the North Carolina Compatriot.
More than 100 compatriots and guests were greeted by Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry, a Louisville resident and a friend of the SAR. She was on hand to introduce her childhood friend and neighbor Nick Clooney (see related story, page 14), who was under the weather and unable to attend. French Henry stressed the importance of patriotism, historical education, service to veterans, and preservation and applauded the SAR’s efforts in those areas.
Louisville-area dignitaries primarily identified by volunteer Bruce Farrer, included land baron Lowry Watkins Jr., art collector Larry Shapin, and former Yum! Brands executive Kathleen E. Gosser, Ph.D. The event, hosted by Foundation President and President General (2013-14) Joseph W. Dooley, drew national attendance, including a delegation from Palm Springs, Calif., of Compatriots Allen Carrier, Rick Schmitz and Dr. William Wickwire.
Master magician Lance Burton, a headlining Las Vegas act for more than 30 years, attended and gave a close-up magic show for the attendees, including Karen Powell of North Carolina, the wife of Compatriot Sam Powell. He revealed a few tricks of the trade.
Burton grew up in Louisville and recently moved back home to Kentucky. He is a friend of SAR Foundation Director Phil Bloyd and pledged to help however needed to finish the SAR Education Center and Museum. Burton was inducted as a Compatriot based on his descent from Pvt. William Baker of Virginia.
Burton was one of three special guests inducted by President General Davis Lee Wright into the SAR. The others were playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey, best known for his play The Green Book, and entrepreneur Scott Neil, a Special Forces veteran. The latter has quickly established himself as a significant figure in Kentucky’s bourbon industry.
Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Ramsey, who has written 13 plays and numerous books, said the discovery of his Patriot Ancestor, John Epps, changed his life. “I was researching the life of Emma Booker
Left, among the many guests at the exclusive preview were, from left, Rick Schmitz, Development Manager Phil Bloyd, Dr. William Wickwire and Allen Carrier of Palm Springs; (below left) from left, inductees playwright Calvin Ramsey, magician Lance Burton and Green Beret Scott Neil; for a possible play, and in the process, I contacted Cynthia Weatherby, who I didn’t know was a genealogist,” Ramsey said. “She asked me about my family, and, after an extensive amount of effort, she was able to connect my great-grandfather [Daniel Epps] to John, who received a pension in the county in North Carolina that was next to where I grew up and spent much of my childhood. When Phil [Bloyd] and the President General [Jack Manning] called me, I couldn’t believe the news.”
So, the Booker project has been placed on hold, and Ramsey is working on a project on Phillis Wheatley—one that includes his family connections (John Epps). “Everything happens for a reason, and I’m excited to be a part of the SAR. It means the world to me, and with 2026 around the corner, I look forward to being a part of it,” said Ramsey, a Baltimore native who splits his time between Sarasota, Fla., and New York.
Neil was one of the first Green Berets in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Primarily on horseback, he and fewer than 90 Green Berets took down the Taliban in less than three months. His experience lives on in the name of his product, Horse Soldier Bourbon Whiskey.
The film 12 Strong is a Hollywood retelling of Neil’s time in the military. “Make whiskey, not war is our tagline,” Neil told Action News Tampa, where he lives.
Neil’s Patriot Ancestor is John Raulerson, a South Carolina militiaman who served with Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox.” He attended the event with his father, David Michael Neil, who also expressed interest in becoming a Compatriot.
Please visit SARFoundation.org to see a video of the galleries, exhibits and proposed floor plan of the SAR Education Center and Museum.