Donation of History

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Donation of History

Memorabilia such as these are now on display in the library.

Brandon Rooker, Staff Reporter

Carl Toepel, a retired elementary school principal and avid political memorabilia collector, has recently donated part of his Presidential Inaugural collection to Lakeland College.

The collection includes memorabilia such as signs, books, invitations, and buttons from different presidential inaugurations dating back to the mid 1900’s.

“I have been donating different places, and having grown up in Howards Grove and now moved back, I thought, ‘I have never done anything at my neighbor, Lakeland College.’ And so, I thought it would be fitting…. to donate [part of] my inaugural collection,” Toepel said, adding that he also donated the items so that future generations would be able to see and appreciate pieces of American history.

Toepel’s personal interest in starting his collection came to fruition in 1956 when he was selected as a doorkeeper for the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California.

“At that convention, people were wearing buttons,” Toepel explained, “I like Ike, Ike and Nixon, and that’s where I got hooked.”

Toepel’s collecting has given him many opportunities to meet high-ranking officials, and experience first-hand many historic events. He has attended the inaugurations of Presidents Nixon, G. W. Bush, and, most recently, Obama.

Through his collecting, Toepel has had the opportunity to meet every president from Eisenhower to Obama, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson (though he did meet his wife). “The good Lord has opened doors for me that people cannot believe,” Toepel said. He’s even had breakfast with President Ford.

“In the future, when Lakeland family, friends, and students look at the donated collection, I think they will be very happy to see the original invitations to the different inaugurations, the inaugural books, and inaugural buttons,” Toepel said.

“I encourage young people, if they are looking for a hobby, to collect political memorabilia. It is wonderful.”

The collection will be displayed in the Lakeland College library. For more information, contact a library staff member.

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