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Coast Guard museum receives $4 million in pledges

The National Coast Guard Museum Association announced commitments of more than $4 million in pledges from private and corporate sponsors.
Former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush join members of the board of the National Coast Guard Museum Association Inc. in announcing $4 million in private support for the museum. Shown are J.D. Power III (left); Susan Curtin; Jimmy Coleman Jr.; former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta; Richard J. Grahn; Connecticut state Sen. Catherine Cook; and John S. Johnson.

Former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush join members of the board of the National Coast Guard Museum Association Inc. in announcing $4 million in private support for the museum. Shown are J.D. Power III (left); Susan Curtin; Jimmy Coleman Jr.; former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta; Richard J. Grahn; Connecticut former state Sen. Catherine Cook; and John S. Johnson.

The National Coast Guard Museum Association announced commitments of more than $4 million in pledges from private and corporate sponsors during a special event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

The pledges for the construction of America’s first National Coast Guard Museum were announced as former President George H.W. Bush and other noted supporters from across the country hosted an advance screening of Walt Disney Pictures’ production of “The Finest Hours."

The invitation-only screening of the film, which chronicles a dramatic Coast Guard rescue off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952, was not a fund-raising event. It was intended to raise awareness about the museum.

“This wonderful event, which was focused around Disney’s exciting portrayal of one of the greatest rescues in Coast Guard history, truly emphasizes the need and generous support for our museum,” National Coast Guard Museum Association president and executive director Richard J. Grahn said in a statement.

“It’s also a testimony to the power of this and other great stories of human courage and sacrifice by uniformed members of the United States Coast Guard, which will be featured and displayed with the honor they deserve in the National Coast Guard Museum.”

The movie is based on the bestselling book “The Finest Hours,” co-authored by Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias. Sherman attended the screening and presented the Bushes with signed copies.

The museum, which is in the pre-construction design phase, will be a celebration of the Coast Guard’s 225 years of service to the country, a salute to the courage and skill of its dedicated men and women and a glimpse into its exciting and vital future, Grahn said.

The association is continuing to raise funds for construction of the $100 million museum on the historic waterfront in downtown New London, Conn. The museum used the screening to announce these pledges:

  • The largest pledge was made by James David Power III and the Power family foundation, Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, which each provided $1 million for the museum. A pioneer in customer satisfaction research, Power founded J.D. Power and Associates and built it into a global brand. Power served as a commissioned officer on a Coast Guard icebreaker in the Arctic and Antarctica from 1953-57, after which he earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business before joining Ford Motor Co.
  • Donald “Boysie” Bollinger, chairman and chief executive officer of Bollinger Enterprises and a longtime supporter of the museum, pledged $1 million. Bollinger is also the former chairman and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards Inc., which was established in 1946. The Coast Guard has called on Bollinger Shipyards to build many of its patrol vessels.
  • The members of the American Waterways Operators, the national association of the nation’s tugboat, towboat and barge industry, are also making significant commitments to the museum. Commitments to date approach $2 million, with cornerstone pledges from Jeffersonville, Ind.-based American Commercial Lines; Nashville-based Ingram Barge Co.; and Houston-based Kirby Corp. Local AWO member Merichem recently added its pledge to the growing list of commitments from AWO member companies. Kirby chairman Joe Pyne, American Commercial Lines CEO Mark Knoy and Merichem CEO Kendra Lee were recognized for their companies’ commitments.

Others who attended included former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta; Adm. Paul Zukunft, the 25th commandant of the Coast Guard; and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

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