Jefferson City, MO – The Academy of Missouri Squires today welcomed four new members to its ranks. The Academy is a non-profit organization that honors Missourians for their accomplishments on the community, state or national levels and was founded by Gov. James T. Blair in 1960.

“I congratulate these newest members of the Academy of Missouri Squires for this recognition of their many achievements on behalf of their communities and their state,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. The Governor and First Lady Georganne Wheeler Nixon hosted a luncheon of the Squires at the Governor’s Mansion today to announce the newest members.

The new members of the Academy of Missouri Squires are:

Frankie Freeman, a pioneer of the civil rights movement in Missouri and a national leader in advancing civil rights. Her legal work was instrumental in obtaining a 1954 court ruling to desegregate St. Louis public housing, and in 1964 she became the first African-American woman to serve on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. In 2007, Ms. Freeman was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta. At age 92, Ms. Freeman is still an active attorney in St. Louis and has practiced law in state and federal courts for more than 60 years.

Peter Herschend, founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. His family has owned and operated Silver Dollar City in Branson for almost 50 years, and Mr. Herschend has been a leader in Missouri’s travel and tourism industry. Herschend Family Entertainment has won several national awards for excellence in entertainment and tourism, as well as for distinction in environmental protection, at Silver Dollar City, at Dollywood, and at other Herschend Family Entertainment properties. Mr. Herschend has been a member of the Missouri State Board of Education since 1991 and currently serves as the board’s vice president.

Dr. Jack Magruder, president of A.T. Still University in Kirksville and a leader in higher education in Missouri for many years. A graduate of Truman State University, he served as president of the school for nine years, greatly increasing the school’s national profile for academic excellence. He previously served as the university’s vice president for academic affairs. The Kirksville Chamber of Commerce honored Dr. Magruder with its Hall of Fame award in 2003. Dr. Magruder is a past member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Mike Shannon, the longtime beloved radio broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals. A former player for the Cardinals, Mr. Shannon was a member of two teams (1964, 1967) that won the World Series Championship. In 1972, he joined the Cardinals’ radio broadcast team with Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, the late Jack Buck. Mike Shannon has kept Cardinal fans entertained and informed about their favorite team since 1972, and he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. In addition to his broadcasting work, he owns and operates a popular restaurant in downtown St. Louis.

The Academy of Missouri Squires is limited to 100 living members, and new Squires are chosen by members of the Academy. To qualify for Academy of Missouri Squires membership, the by-laws state that one must have achieved true greatness in his or her community, the state of Missouri or the United States; and either legally reside in Missouri, be employed by the state, or be a native-born Missourian whose current residence, by necessity of business or other reasons, may be outside the state.

The ranks of the Squires automatically include the Governor and living former Governors of Missouri. Among the first class of Squires in 1960 were Harry Truman, Thomas Hart Benton and Stan Musial. The names of the Squires in the Class of 2009 will be added to plaques on display in the first floor rotunda of the state Capitol.

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