TRMF President, Hatzenbuhler: “I am all-in for Reese”

Last summer in Medora, I told my wife, Laurie, “I am all in for Reese”.

Reese is our 4 ½-year-old grand-daughter. Laurie’s 33-year career in healthcare ended early in 2017. It was a transition for her, us – actually, it only took her 15 minutes to get used to retirement! Leading up to the summer season, the big question was whether she would spend the whole summer in Medora, or just weekends. Grand-children were a very important part of the decision. We are blessed to have our children and grandchildren living nearby.


Laurie spent the summer in Medora and we enjoyed having our Reese and her 2 ½-year-old brother Dawson spend 22 nights (either separately or together) with us in Medora. They were about the same age that our children were when I began working in here, so the experiences were remarkably familiar. If we had allowed it, they would have gone to the Medora Musical every single night.

Reese and I climbed the butte that overlooks the town; initially, she was afraid to make the climb, but as we were reaching the top, she was shouting her new motto –


“Big, Bold and Brave”

She proudly made the climb three more times during the summer along with several more hikes in the badlands. I love that she thinks of Medora as one of her homes.

Reese and Dawson enjoy the show and the freedom of Medora in the same way that our children did. I don’t need to tell you each silly little thing that makes that true, but I will tell you they love finding “Olaf”, their favorite horse at the stables, and trips to the ice-cream parlor, important games of mini-golf, chases through the children’s park, the Fourth of July fireworks, and of course the Musical(every night!).

We have had campaigns for important and needed projects for Medora. Harold Schafer and Rod Tjaden saw clearly that the future of Medora was at risk in the late 1980s; the campaign for a new Burning Hills Amphitheatre was essential. Similarly, campaigns for the Harold Schafer Heritage Center, Tjaden Terrace, Scholarships, Bully Pulpit Golf Course, Rough Riders Hotel, numerous historic preservation and restoration projects, Medora Musical Sponsors, the Life Skills Center, and now the Elkhorn Quarters have helped Medora better serve the visitor and reflect how much people care about Medora. Thank you to everyone who has played a role to this point. I hope to be part of future campaigns.

But, there is an unofficial personal campaign that drives me to do everything I can for Medora, and that is,

“All in for Reese”

Let me explain. Last summer’s experience with our grandchildren was an epiphany of sorts for me. I enjoyed being with them so much, especially evenings at the show. That night when Laurie and I were visiting after the show, I said, “I know exactly why I am working and I know that I won’t ever personally see what I am working for – I want to do everything I am able to make sure Reese will have the same experience we had tonight.



That is: someday she will enjoy taking her grand-children to Medora and she will see the same joy in their eyes as we see in hers. I am all in for Reese.”

For that to happen, the Medora Musical will likely be 110 years old. We have an understanding of the cost to maintain the properties of Medora and the challenge of visitation that is primarily seasonal. Outside consultants tell us that it will be necessary to grow our endowment to levels that even Harold Schafer did not imagine in order to keep facilities in Medora in first-class condition They tell us it will take $50 million in today’s dollars.

We, too, must be “Big. Bold. And Brave”


“All in for Reese” has made this reality crystal clear for me; my job is to grow the endowment over the next 7 to 10 years to the levels needed to sustain Medora for future generations.


“Do something you love, and you will never work another day in your life.”


That old adage has made sense to me ever since Rod Tjaden offered me a job to work in Medora 30 years ago. I love Medora and what it represents.

I’m going to conclude by asking you to join me by doing two things:

  • Please consider making an annual endowment gift
    to take advantage of the 40% North Dakota State
    Tax Credit;
  • And please take time to prepare or review your will
    and consider including the Theodore Roosevelt
    Medora Foundation.


Reese says thank you!

Oh, and by the way, the responsibility to my grandchildren is getting heavier – Reese and Dawson were joined by cousin Reagan who was born in January 2018!

Life is good.

See you in Medora,

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