SASM Board Honors Three Outgoing Members

//SASM Board Honors Three Outgoing Members


In December, the Stafford Air and Space Museum Foundation met for its last monthly meeting for 2013. At this meeting, Chairman Dan Stroud took a few moments to recognize three board members who have served with a steadfast enthusiasm for over six years. Dr. Blake Sonobe, Mr. Thad Wolgamott, and Dr. James Friesen were honored by current board members and museum staff as Stroud presented each with a special edition canvas print of the moon’s surface. Each canvas featured an engraved silver plaque with the board member’s name and years served. In their years as board members, each one contributed with his own character, helping to build the museum into what it is today.

During his years on the museum board, Dr. Sonobe was a true team player. He served as a key element in the designing and development of the strategic plan for the museum.  He put in a great amount of time and effort in leading the efforts of developing a plan for the museum to stand as its own unit from the airport, and have a board of directors to guide the museum into the future, creating a life for the museum. With these efforts, the board evolved. In addition to creating the strategic plan and layout of the board, Sonobe was a leader in fundraising. He was very active in all areas of fundraising, including representing the museum to potential donors. He also worked on grant research for the museum, helping to promote the museum in receiving grants for activities and projects.

Thad Wolgamott has served on the airport and museum board beginning in 2000, at the time when both entities were conjoined as one. Wolgamott involved in the separation of the two and began working with the museum’s operations as well as the airport’s. He, along with Dr. Sonobe and Dr. Friesen, all contributed to the strategic plan of the Museum Foundation and helped form the bylaws and guidelines giving the board structure. Wolgamott considers his biggest contribution to the museum the addition of the front entrance. He and other board members were able to have the front restrooms installed for visitors, instead of directing them to the airports. Happy with the results of the restrooms, Wolgamott knew there was a need for more. He pushed for even more space, conceptualizing the future need of a conference room, a retail area, and an open lobby. He saw the project through and today the museum has a large open lobby, complete with a conference room, gift shop area, and offices. Wolgamott has been very active in the museum’s fundraising events, and has served and is still a current volunteer tour guide for the museum.

The last departing board member is Dr. James Friesen. Friesen is a devout supporter and representative of the museum and has given the definition of board member and volunteer a new meaning. Friesen was present in the organization and development of the Foundation Board and put his touch in the creation of the bylaws and guidelines. He helped create the board into a driving force for the museum, always pushing for stronger, more meaningful membership and volunteer programs. Friesen, a proven handyman, has helped create and build many of the exhibits that are currently on display in the museum.  One of his biggest projects was the completion of the model rocket case currently featured at the museum. He was the project director, who oversaw the construction and completion of this exhibit which has become one of the museum’s icons. Dr. Friesen saw the potential in hosting the Apollo X and the Apollo XVII 40th Anniversary Galas, which still remain as two of the most memorable events at the museum for him. He has also helped design and built the Stafford Space Suit displays which give the museum the ability to retain the spacesuits on public display. These displays properly display the suit with the correct protective glass, lighting, and air circulation to keep them preserved. The Stafford Museum is one of limited museums that currently have actual flown space suits on display outside the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Friesen has served as a volunteer and tour guide for the museum for nearly ten years. The museum initiated a volunteer of the year award named after Dr. Friesen, in recognition of his hard work and commitment to the museum.

These three board members leave a legacy in which they all created from their enthusiasm and support of the museum. All three gentlemen have served in several ways as “founding fathers” of the Stafford Museum Foundation Board of Directors and have served their terms graciously and with heartfelt dedication. The board stands today as a strong unit, dedicated to their mission and serve with pride as it represents the heart of the museum. The museum staff and current board wish to thank each of these men for their time, efforts, and enthusiasm.

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 January 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SASM Board Honors Three Outgoing Members

About the Author:

Chaney is the Marketing & Development Coordinator at the Stafford Air & Space Museum. Feel free to reach out via email at or phone at 580-772-5871.