When Louise Morden ’43 was a student at Graceland she tried to earn a varsity letter in every sport. And she failed in every attempt to earn a letter. However, Julia Travis “Judy” Closson ’26 recognized Louise as a special student. She told her, “Louise, you’ve worked harder than any other student to earn a letter. I want you to have this honorary letter.” That big G letter sits displayed among her most treasured possessions to this day. Louise’s long connection to Julia Closson makes it fitting that the Morden family made the lead gift to renovate the Eugene E. and Julia Travis Closson Physical Education Center.
Thanks to the generosity of Louise and her late husband Paul ’36 Morden, Graceland will make much needed updates to the iconic structure. The building, which will be called Morden Center to acknowledge the Mordens’ long history of service and generosity to Graceland’s mission, celebrated 50 years of service to the university this year and is the most heavily used building on Graceland’s Lamoni campus.
“Graceland has been an important fixture in my life and in that of my late husband, Paul. To honor him, I am excited for the opportunity to share our love for Graceland with generations of students to come.” — Louise ’43 Morden
Plans to continue to honor the Closson family in the redesigned space have been a part of the conversation from the beginning.
“Our family worked closely with Graceland and the Development Office on this project and were consulted from the beginning,” said Cal Closson ‘82. “As a member of the alumni board and as a Closson, my blood has always been and always will be blue and gold. It has been an honor to have this building named for my grandparents for over 50 years, and we will work with Graceland on how best to continue that honor. From our perspective, the iconic and practical aspects of the fieldhouse are what is most important.”
Early in 2019, Graceland engaged architecture firm Shive-Hattery for the renovation of the gymnasium. The project will be conducted in two phases. Phase one will replace the roof and update everything attached to it (lighting, sound system, scoreboard, etc.), and will include an HVAC overhaul that will add air conditioning and a needed fire sprinkler system. Phase two will address the rest of the space (basketball court, track, volleyball and intramural spaces, bleachers, etc.). This exciting project will honor the uniqueness of the building while modernizing it to help secure Graceland’s future success.
To join the Morden and Closson families and make a gift to this exciting project, click the button below or contact the Graceland development office.