Keeping in step with the Phippen Museum’s theme of western flavor, educator and writer Kevin Schindler will be giving a presentation on Buckey O’Neill at the museum at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3. Titled “Buckey O’Neill: Undaunted Courage & Boundless Ambition,” the presentation is a part of the AZ Speaks program, said Edd Kellerman, manager of marketing and communications for the museum.
“We take advantage of the ones that seem appropriate to the tie between the Phippen Museum and what we do here,” Kellerman said. “The last one we had was on Arizona ghost towns. We probably had (more than) 160 people downstairs. It was standing room only.”
The museum’s tie-in with O’Neill and why he’s so important to the Phippen is due to the Solon Borglum collection, Kellerman said. Borglum is the creator of the Rough Rider statue seen on courthouse plaza, he said.
Schindler’s presentation will explore O’Neill’s life from making his mark in Arizona to dying in Cuba while serving as one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Admission for the presentation is $7 for adults and seniors, $6 for AAA members, $5 for students and free for children under 12 years of age and museum members.
The most unique thing about O’Neill is what a multi-faceted character he was, Kellerman said. He may have only lived in the area for about 16 years, but did a lot in that time, he said.
“In the time that he was here, he was everything from a court reporter, he was a publisher and writer for his own publication, ‘Hoof and Horn,” he was the sheriff, he became mayor, he ran a couple times for elected office,” Kellerman said. “They said he couldn’t sit down, you couldn’t find him holding still.”
There’s also a specific reason for having the presentation on Feb. 3, according to Museum Education Coordinator Neal McEwen. O’Neill’s birthday is Feb. 2, McEwen said.
Kellerman said he expects a crowd similar to the one that came for the ghost town presentation. In fact, it may be one that will have to be given again due to the popularity, he said.
“I imagine we’ll pack them in until we can’t anymore. I’m pretty sure this is going to be well attended,” Kellerman said. “We may have to talk about revisiting this.”