Theodore Bear’s 100th Birthday Party – Come Celebrate With Us!

The Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum board of directors invites all of you to a party to celebrate the 100th birthday of Theodore Bear. The party will be held at the museum, located at 306 Walnut Street, Carthage, on Sunday, October 5, from 1PM to 4PM.  “Beary good” refreshments will be served and everyone, especially other Teddy Bears, is invited.

Theodore Bear was created in Carthage, October 8, 1908, by Mary Salisbury Dean. Mary Dean’s uncle was Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mary Dean’s mother was Catherine Smith Salisbury. When the LDS left this area in 1846 the Salisbury family remained in Hancock County and later helped establish the Reorganized LDS Church, now known as the Community of Christ.

Mary Dean gave the Teddy Bear to her daughter, Dorothy Dean, for Christmas 1908, and the bear remained in her possession until it was given to Marcia Lawson in 1983. Theodore’s birth date, October 8, 1908, was discovered by Mrs. Lawson when she did some repairs on his back and found that he was stuffed with a newspaper bearing that date.

Theodore became the star of the “Show and Tell Doll and Teddy Bear Museum” in Carthage, which was owned and operated by Marcia and her husband Lyle Lawson until Marcia’s health necessitated the closure of the popular tourist attraction. In 1988, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Theodore was made and honorary citizen of Carthage by proclamation of the Carthage Mayor, James Nightingale.

After Marcia’s retirement, Theodore Bear also retired. Since 1995 Theodore has resided at the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Carthage, where, from his old rocking chair (previously owned by Marcia’s mother, Mildred Thompson Whilhite, when she was a child) he has entertained thousands of visitors each year, surrounded by many of his bear friends and familiar doll houses and toys which also were formerly in the Doll and Bear Museum.

During the party the new “Bridge addition” to the museum, which has been under construction since early August, will be open for inspection. The new exhibit areas will be labeled, but the exhibits will not be completed until this winter, in time for the 2009 tourism season.