It would be hard to overstate the importance of Dwight and Ruth Vredenburg to Lucas County history during the latter half of the 20th century and beyond.
Dwight, of course, served as president of Hyde and Vredenburg, Hy-Vee after 1953, until retirement in the 1980s. What was not so obvious to folks outside southern Iowa, however, was the couple's deep involvement in and commitment to their chosen hometown of Chariton and the county around it --- especially in all things involving music and the theater.
So it was a pleasure to help welcome three generations of Vredenburg descendants to the Lucas County Historical Society Museum late Saturday morning to cut a ribbon, opening what now is the Vredenburg Gallery.
Family members present were (from left) Charles Vredenburg, John Vredenburg, Martha Vredenburg, Martha's granddaughter, Riley Wibe, and her son, Christopher Wibe. Martha and Riley handled the scissors.
Total renovation of this gallery, largely unchanged since the first wing of the John L. Lewis Building opened in 1976, was made possible by a gift from the Vredenburg Foundation. That included new carpet, fresh paint, new cabinetry and new lighting in both the gallery --- generally the first visited by museum guests --- and the Irene Garton Memorial Library beyond it.
That gift was among the reasons why the museum board decided last year to rename the gallery in the Vredenburgs' honor, pointing out that the name acknowledges the important role that the couple played in Lucas County history and, through their legacy, will continue to play in its future.