JEFFERSON CITY — A physician credited as the father of osteopathic medicine and a noted science fiction writer have won induction into the state Capitol's Hall of Famous Missourians. Joining them as the newest inductees are a suffragist and the catalyst of a citizens initiative that limited state revenues and local taxes.
The hall is a collection of bronze busts that generally has honored people chosen by the House speaker. However, half the new honorees this time were selected through a public nomination and voting process. The four inductees were identified to The Associated Press by House Speaker Tim Jones before they were publicly announced.
Winning the vote was Dr. Andrew Taylor Still and science fiction author Robert Heinlein. To that list, Jones added Virginia Minor, who advocated for women's voting rights, and Mel Hancock, who authored a state constitutional amendment that won approval in 1980 and since has become known simply as the "Hancock Amendment."
Busts of the people in the hall are privately funded and displayed between the House and Senate chambers. Among those already included are President Harry Truman, Walt Disney, Mark Twain, George Washington Carver, Betty Grable and Ginger Rogers.
The use of a public vote for some of the inductions comes after acrimony following last year's selection by a different House speaker of commentator Rush Limbaugh. That choice was criticized by Democrats, some women's groups and other political foes.
Still received the most public support, claiming nearly 38 percent of more than 34,000 votes cast. He was born in Virginia and elected to the Kansas territorial Legislature. After the deaths of several children and serving as a Civil War doctor, Still looked for new medical methods. In 1892, he founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, according to the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine. It now is called A.T. Still University.
"Dr. Still revolutionized medicine as we know it today," said Brad Bates, a lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons.
The public also opted for science fiction writer Heinlein. He was born in Butler, and his works include "Starship Troopers," ''Stranger in a Strange Land," and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." Heinlein received more than 10,000 votes.
Still and Heinlein combined to receive nearly 70 percent of the votes.
The speaker's selections for the Hall of Famous Missourians left their marks in the political arena.
Minor in 1867 helped found the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri, which was the first organization that made enfranchising women its exclusive goal. Minor tried to register to vote in October 1872 but was refused because of her gender. Through her husband, Francis Minor, she filed suit and argued the 14th Amendment allowed women to vote. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against her.
The suffragist finished sixth in the public vote for the Hall of Famous Missourians, and Jones said he decided to include Minor because of her importance to Missouri and U.S. history.
The speaker's other selection, Hancock, won approval for a measure establishing a state revenue limit, barring state government from imposing unfunded mandates on local governments and requiring voter approval for local tax increases. It helped propel him to a seat in Congress where he served four terms and built a reputation as a fiscal and social conservative.
Jones said Hancock had been on his mind the longest as a candidate for induction.
"The minute I was elected speaker back in September of last year, I had folks approaching me about Mel Hancock saying he should have been put in the hall by now," Jones said.