Meet the People of Liberty Hall
Lachlan Mackay, Community of Christ Director of Historic Sites, announced the appointment of Cindi Wilson as the new Director of the Liberty Hall Historic Site, effective January 1, 2013. Wilson, with her husband Bryce, has been serving as caretaker for Liberty Hall for the past year and a half.
Wilson has deep ties to the Lamoni, Iowa area. She attended Graceland University, where she met her husband, Bryce. They returned to Lamoni in 1984. In 1990 they moved to a religious community near Lamoni where they lived until she and her family relocated back to Lamoni. "I have always been interested in church history," commented Wilson, "and working at Liberty Hall has given me the opportunity to see that history come alive."
Since becoming caretaker of Liberty Hall Wilson has had the opportunity to work with Steve Smith, the immediate past director, and with former directors Alma Blair and Martha Harper. Both Blair and Harper continue to volunteer at the Site, and Alma Blair serves as the site's Historian. Each of them has assured Wilson of their continued support as she moves into this new role.
"I am looking forward to working with Cindi," said Blair. "Not only has she taken care of the site, she has demonstrated interest and skill in researching our history and in caring for the artifacts that help make up our site. I am sure she will continue the tradition of excellent leadership shown by Liberty Hall's directors over the years."
Martha Harper was previously the director of Liberty Hall. "I came on a two-year commitment," noted Martha, "and stayed for nine." She grew up in western Iowa where she and her first husband, Alan, farmed for many years. In 1986 they moved to Arizona where they managed the Whispering Pines campground for the Community of Christ. After Alan passed away, Martha decided to move back to Lamoni and accepted the directorship of Liberty Hall.
During her tenure as Director, Martha donated more than 10,000 hours of volunteer time to the site. And during those nine years almost 9,000 people visited Liberty Hall. She continues to serve at Liberty Hall where she shares her love for the home and for Joseph Smith III and his family with those who come to visit. Her dedication as Director and as a volunteer at Liberty Hall has been exemplary and a blessing to all associated with the site.
Alma Blair is Professor Emeritus, History, Graceland University. He attended Graceland in 1947-49, the University of Iowa in 1950-51, served in the Army in Korea, and returned to the University of Iowa where he received his M.A. in American Intellectual History.
In 1955 Professor Blair joined Graceland's faculty, teaching history for 39 years. For over 30 years he trained guides at the Joseph Smith Historic Center
Following retirement from Graceland University, he became the director of Liberty Hall for eight years and has volunteered at Liberty Hall since that time. He has served in various offices of the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association and has contributed a number of historical articles to professional journals.
Married to Kathryn Tabor Blair for 60 years, they have four children, 11 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. He likes golfing, fishing, reading, singing, acting, and people.
Stephen K. Smith became the director of the Liberty Hall Historic Site on August 1, 2011 serving until Cindi Wilson took over in January 2013. Smith and his wife, Joan, moved to Seattle, Washington to be closer to family. Prior to his appointment, Smith had been a guide for tour groups, organized presentations, and developed a long range plan for Liberty Hall. In addition to his Liberty Hall experience, he has been involved with Community of Christ's historic sites for many years.
Smith was an attorney in Arizona working with schools on Native American reservations. Before that, he lived and taught school on the Navajo Nation. He grew up in Nauvoo, IL, and received his associate degree from Graceland University in 1962 where he met his wife Joanie. He completed his music degree at Western Illinois and a master's degree in music education at Indiana University. He received his law degree at Arizona State University.
Smith organized a strong and active advisory board, a wide group of friends who are interested in supporting Liberty Hall and coordinated a Liberty Hall activities calendar to promote the use of the site and reflect its history and culture. He initiated the Friends of Liberty Hall donor program, directed the launching of the Liberty Hall web site, oversaw the renovation of the barn into an outstanding facilty for Liberty Hall and arranged countless community activities. Smith also instituted events like the bird walk, moon walk, and speaker program.