Why We Support the Center of the West…
Paul and Karen George
“It’s a special place. It’s just a special place,” Paul George says with enthusiasm when asked about the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. “There are very few places in the country that you can experience what you experience here.”
Paul and Karen George became members when they moved to Cody in 2006, but their connection goes back to 1984 when Paul first visited the area on a hunting and fishing trip. He says his “wow” moment was seeing the guns from Bonanza and other Hollywood productions. “Those shows were a positive influence,” he explains, “and it took me back to my childhood. It was something I didn’t anticipate.” This discovery of what he refers to as “a gem of the West” led to vacations to the area together, then to the decision to relocate permanently from Maryland.
They became members because, they say, “It’s important to be a part of it, to support it. We feel it’s a responsibility as part of this community.”
Their support includes volunteering. Karen volunteered in Membership and with Encore—a fundraising clothing sale—for several years, and now is a concierge for the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale. They both have volunteered in the Conservation Department and helped restore pieces from the collection. “It’s overwhelming to take care of those artifacts—to hold history in your hands,” Paul adds. “Wearing white gloves,” he adds with a laugh.
But the best thing for the Georges is this: “Living here full time means we can enjoy the Center at our leisure,” Paul says. “It gives us time to enjoy all the wonderful things that are here. There is never a time we visit that we don’t see something new.” And, as Karen notes, “We share it with everyone we know.”
Karen says she is impressed with changes the Center has made recently. She relates how she was walking through the Draper Natural History Museum to a Buffalo Gals Luncheon, and watched one of the Education staff conduct a “Skype in the Classroom” session. As a former teacher, she says she knows how important it is to reach out to students is such a new way. “What a positive use of technology,” Paul adds (he also had a career in education). “I’m sure that has a ripple effect—students spread the word; their friends and families become enthusiastic about it; and then they come for a visit.”
Paul and Karen are quick to praise Center staff who, they say, are very good at breaking down barriers to the understanding of their subjects. They pull different points of view together so that the experience isn’t just about history or culture or science or art or firearms, but a combination. “That helps you see the relationships among those points of view, both in public presentations and in casual conversations,” Paul explains.
The Georges recently gave a significant additional gift to support the Cody Firearms Museum (CFM). “Both of us are enthralled with all the museums,” Paul says, “but I grew up with firearms. I see them as symbols of our country’s freedom and forms of art that have evolved as well. The overall statement the CFM makes is worth supporting.”
If you, like the Georges, would like to make an additional gift, contact the Development Department at [email protected] or 307-578-4008.
First published in Points West magazine, Fall/Winter 2017.