Bio: Lovell, Capt. James, Jr. (1970 visit to Neillsville, Wis.)

Transcriber: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon


Surnames: Lovell, Teas, Olson, Sturtz


----Source: Clark County Press, (Neillsville, WI) July 23, 1970 - Front page news, Sturtz Family Album





Capt. James Lovell will attend groundbreaking


Large Crowd is expected to greet Apollo commander


Neillsville this week was making preparations to entertain an unpredictable number of visitors who will come here Friday to see Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr., commander of Apollo XIII on its ill-fated moon flight last spring.


Capt. Lovell will be in the city briefly Friday afternoon to attend groundbreaking ceremonies for three new, modern residential cottages at the Winnebago Children’s Home.  He has accepted appointment as national fund drive chairman for the Home’s “Winnebago Outreach.”  The drive is intended to raise approximately $550,000 for improvements and modernization at the home.


Capt. Lovell is expected to arrive in Neillsville at approximately 2:40.  Groundbreaking ceremonies are scheduled for 3 p.m. on grounds south of the main building on the Children’s home campus.  This is the area in which the new residential cottages will be built.




Mrs. Lovell is expected to accompany her husband, although Winnebago officials were not clear Wednesday on whether her plans were definite.  She and Capt. Lovell will be in Milwaukee today (Thursday), where the spaceship commander is scheduled to receive an award.  They expect to fly to Wisconsin Rapids, where they will be met by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Teas of that City.  Mr. Teas is a member of the board of directors of the Winnebago Benevolent Corporation, of which the children’s home here is a part.


They plan to drive to Neillsville by way of Highways 13 and 73.  Plans were being made for county traffic officers and sheriff’s officers to meet them at the county line.  City officials, including Mayor Kenneth Olson, were expected to join the cavalcade at the junction of Highways 73-95, three miles south of Neillsville. 


The motorcade route, as set up in advance by officers of the children’s home will be: Division to Hewett Street, along Hewett Street to Fifth Street, and west on West Fifth Street to the Winnebago Children’s Home.


Fly Flags


Mayor Olson has requested that crowds gathering along the route show the American flag and that merchant’s of the city fly their American flags on that day in honor of the visiting astronaut.


Just how many people are expected in the city that day?  Supt. Gale Wolf of the Children’s Home, himself, was on inquiry.


“Somebody stated in the (Milwaukee) Sentinel that there would be 10,000.  I frankly don’t know what to expect.”


The likelihood is that the visit will attract something less than that number; but no one connected will be surprised should it exceed 10,000 either.  The largest single-event crowd in the history of Neillsville was estimated at 20,000, who lined the streets for the County’s centennial parade back in 1953.


Parking Problem?


Whether there are 5,000 or 10,000 or more, the crowd is likely to raise a parking problem both along the route which will be taken by Lovell’s motorcade and around the Winnebago Children’s home.  People will have to expect to walk several blocks to get in viewing position; and should the crowd be unexpectedly large, some no doubt will be unable to get onto the Winnebago Children’s Home grounds to view the groundbreaking ceremony.


In preparation for the groundbreaking ceremony, the Children’s Home will serve a luncheon to approximately 1,000 guests.  The luncheon will not be open to the public, but will be by invitation, only.


Lovell’s stay in Neillsville is expected to be quite brief.  He May spend a few minutes with children in the home, and then leave, according to Supt. Wolf.


‘Vacation’ Time


Preparations for the visit, also, were not without their fingernail biting features.  Like with any man in the public eye—and especially one employed in the space program by NASA, as Lovell is—there can be no certainty that plans will not be upset by assignment.  That nearly happened in this instance.  Lovell had been scheduled to be overseas from July 20 to 24, and there was no assurance until earlier this week that he would be able to make the visit to Neillsville.


Supt. Wolf said that the time he is spending here is on his vacation time, and not on official time.


Capt. Lovell’s interest in, and acceptance of, an assignment by, the Winnebago Children’s Home comes as a result of his personal friendship, and that of Mrs. Lovell, with the Teas family, and Mr. Teas’ interest in the Winnebago Children’s Home.  Preliminary arrangements for Capt. Lovell to take the chairmanship of “Winnebago Outreach” were made at the Lovell home in Houston, Tex., in a meeting last May.  Mr. and Mrs. Teas, accompanied by the Rev. and Mrs. Wolf, were dinner guests of the Lovell’s in their home at that time. 


When told of the work the home does with disturbed and disadvantaged children, Capt. Lovell readily accepted the national chairmanship.



Apollo 13 Splashdown, 17 Apr 1970
99 days later: 24 Jul 1970 (when I was 10 yrs. old), Neillsville, Wis.

Photo provided by "Skip" Sturtz


Capt. James A Lovell, Jr., commander of Apollo XIII as he appears in a space suit.  The commander of Apollo XIII, and the most traveled man in American history, will be in Neillsville Friday afternoon to take part in groundbreaking ceremonies at the Winnebago Children’s Home.  Picture furnished through the courtesy of NASA.






From: Sturtz, Howard "Skip"

Hello. I was 10 years old when Captain James Lovell, NASA Astronaut, visited Neillsville, WI on July 24, 1970.   The autographed photo I have is displayed in the article above.  The photo below was taken of me with Capt. Lovell, Jr. in Neillsville, Wisconsin (just 99 days after the Apollo 13 splashdown) at the Wisconsin Pavilion, WCCN radio station.



"Skip" Sturtz and Capt. James Lovell, NASA Astronaut

Neillsville, Wis., 24 Jul 1970


**Correction: Unfortunately, I was not the recipient of his autograph that day. I was probably too nervous to ask. I do recall it happened very quickly and my dad, or a worker at the radio station took the photo. It certainly makes for a nice story, though. The autographed photo of James Lovell, is simply one I googled 6 years ago, and noted as such in a Facebook post back in Sept. of 2014. As much as I wish I had one, especially with his iconic "Houston we have a problem" quote, I do not. Can you please correct the record if it's not too much trouble? I wouldn't want it embellished like this.  Howard (Skip) Sturtz



© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel