The following story by Jackie Jahfetson originally appeared in The Dickinson Press on June 12th, 2021:
When it comes to encapsulating the western heritage spirit that continues to shine in Medora, there is a long list of names that generously contributed to preserve the wild West. Of those who’ve maintained that “heart of the Bully Spirit,” William and Jane Marcil are at the top of the list who fell in love with Medora.
During a special ceremony of the Rough Riders Roundup, William and Jane Marcil were honored with the Bully Spirit Award Saturday, June 12, at the Medora Community Center. The Bully Spirit Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
As Marcil finished his receiving speech and thanked the foundation, he said to the crowd, “We just love this place.” His family smiled and cheered, including his son and now, CEO of Forum Communications Bill Marcil Jr. Holding the award in his hands, a standing ovation followed after Marcil’s speech.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s a wonderful award and we’re so proud to be recognized by the foundation,” Marcil said.
The Marcils started “this love affair with Medora” back in the ‘70s when they were introduced to Harold Schafer — a major benefactor to the city and a vision for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. For Marcil and his family, Medora became not only a summer spot for camping, but it was a destination.
In 1996, William and Jane Marcil joined the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. But as Marcil saw how the city was evolving, he saw that there was a need in Medora for all of its summer and full-time employees to congregate, grow and learn from each other. So in 2016, the Bill and Jane Marcil Life Skills Center was built with the donation of the Marcil family.
With ongoing projects and preservation efforts, Marcil said he sees the city as an enduring place that will live on for generations.
“I think it’s going to continue to grow. I think the fact that the Roosevelt Library will be out here will add traffic to the area. But I’m confident too, that the city will grow in a way that doesn’t take away from the heritage of what we’re looking at in Medora,” he said.
The western heritage that is preserved in the Badlands has continued to attract the Marcils over the years as they’d go horseback riding, lend a hand with the fall roundup and relive the old ways of the West.
“We’ve just enjoyed Medora and you fall in love with the Badlands and the people… Harold Schafer got us more involved,” he said, adding, “Jane and I both like the outdoors, so it’s just natural for us.”
The Bully Spirit Award was an idea that the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation was considering for a long time before it came to fruition, President Randy Hatzenbuhler said. Then four years ago, the foundation formalized the idea to give recognition to those who have played a major role in making Medora the place it is today, he noted.
Each year, the board that selects the honorees sifts through a long list of philanthropists, benefactors and volunteers, Hatzenbuhler said, adding that it is a “robust process.” From there, the board narrows the search down to four or five names and selects the honoree.
Though it is difficult to just pick one name from the list, Hatzenbuhler said he was thrilled when the board selected the Marcils.
“… I know that they love Medora; I know they love the people that are here in this room. So to be able to do that at a point that they could enjoy it, that felt really good to me,” Hatzenbuhler said.
Medora is a destination where President Theodore Roosevelt and Schafer spent their lives giving everything they had to the city, and it carries on with the Marcil family.
When asked where does the Bully Spirit Award sit on the mantle of other prestigious awards and recognitions, Marcil said, chuckling, “Oh, we’ll find a spot for this one. It will be up in the front row.”