Passing of Wilbur Vaughn brings forth memories of the famous Bette Davis photo

Wilbur Vaughn and his wife Imogene would often visit with artist Ray Harvey during the painting of the Bette Davis mural.

Wilbur Vaughn and his wife Imogene would often visit with artist Ray Harvey during the painting of the Bette Davis mural.

Wilbur Vaughn was a young man when Bette Davis visited Cuba,Missouri in 1948. But on that fateful day the mega-star’s destiny would become entwined with Vaughn’s. He would tell the story of what happened that day many times, often with great humor. Artist Ray Harvey would paint a mural on the Cuba Free Press building that commemorated the events of that day. Journalists videoed Vaughn telling his story, and he would often show off the camera that he used to take the photo. Articles recounted his encounter with Bette Davis. Although Mr. Vaughn’s telling of the  story draws to a close with his passing, his part in our town’s history remains for all to see.

Viva Cuba would like to offer its condolences to Mr. Vaughn’s family and friends.  We valued both Mr. Vaughn’s friendship and gracious support of the mural project.  May he rest in peace.

The photo shows a young Wilbur Vaughn, his photo of Bette Davis, his camera that he used, and the Southern Hotel as it was during the visit by Bette Davis.

The photo collage shows a young Wilbur Vaughn, his photo of Bette Davis, the camera that he used, and the Southern Hotel as it was during the visit by Bette Davis.

Bette Davis newspaper article Cuba News & Review

The facsimiles of the articles about Bette Davis’s visit tell the story.


Wilbur J. Vaughn
(July 15, 1929 – October 29, 2012)

U.S. VeteranWilbur Jewell Vaughn was born on Monday, July 15, 1929 in Cuba, MO to Henry B. Vaughn and Myrtle Roberts Vaughn. He passed away in St. Louis, MO on Monday, October 29, 2012 at the age of 83 years.Wilbur served honorably in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict as a corporal. He was a military policeman and worked in the Criminal Investigation Division. He married Imogene Dugan on December 31, 1949 in Steelville, MO and to this union 4 children were born. Wilbur had several career opportunities during his adult life. He managed movie theatres in several states for 18 years. He was a construction worker for the Peabody Mines. At one time, he worked for the MO Conservation in Willow Springs, MO as a watchman in the fire tower. He also, was known for his photography and famous for the mural on the Cuba Free Press building featuring the picture he took of the actress Betty Davis. He was a member of the Cuba First Baptist Church. Wilbur will be truly missed by his family and many friends that loved him dearly.

He was preceded by his parents; son Bryan Vaughn; brothers Everette, Earl, Floyd, Noel, Lloyd and Elmer Vaughn and sister Mae Vaughn.

He is survived by his wife Imogene Dugan Vaughn of Cuba, MO; children Julie Ann (David) Darmon of Ballwin, MO, Roger (Margarete) Vaughn of Owensville, MO and Charlene (Conrad) Percival of Rosebud, MO; brother Charles (Helen) Vaughn of Cuba, MO; sisters-in-law Carol (Stanley) Berry of Springfield, MO and Eileen Vaughn of California, MO; grandchildren David (Andrea) Darmon, Jr. of Wildwood, MO, Ginger (Kasey) O’Hara of Fenton, MO, Joe Darmon of Ballwin, MO, and Tina (Patrick) Heidbrink of Owensville, MO; great grandsons Braden Michael Darmon and Reed Patrick Darmon of Wildwood, MO; nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Visitation is Thursday, November 1, 2012 from 5-8:00PM and Funeral Service at 11:00AM at Hutson Funeral Home, Cuba, MO with Rev. Bob Knight officiating. Burial at Roberts Cemetery, Salem, MO.

Memorials may be given to Roberts Cemetery.

Arrangements are under the direction of Hutson Funeral Home, Cuba, MO.

For more on the Bette Davis story and Wilbur Vaughn’s part in it  read “Bette Davis visits Cuba, Missouri” and “Original Bette Davis articles served as mural inspiration.”

Wilbur Vaughn speaking at a Route 66 Association of Missouri luncheon meeting.

Wilbur Vaughn speaking at a Route 66 Association of Missouri luncheon meeting in Cuba, Missouri.





Original Bette Davis articles served as mural inspiration…

Bette Davis artist Ray Harvey

This was a piece of preliminary artwork of Bette Davis by Route 66 artist Ray Harvey.

Bette Davis, award winning actress, and her husband cruised into Cuba on Route 66 in their Packard Station Wagon. The actress would dine at the Southern Hotel and her husband would engage in a footrace through the streets of Cuba with a local newsman/photographer Wilbur Vaughn. Vaughn’s photo that sparked the footrace would appear that week in the Cuba News and Review.

These articles chronicle the events when Bette Davis visited Cuba, Mo.

The events of that day were the inspiration for one of Viva Cuba’s 12 outdoor murals by Route 66 artist Ray Harvey. When Viva Cuba learned of the story, the beautification organization knew that it would be a perfect mural for the new Cuba Free Press building. Below, read the real time chronicle of the events that occurred during that fateful day in 1948.

Wilbur Vaughn, the young photographer who took the photo, still lives in Cuba and often tells the story of his race to get the news of Bette Davis to the people of Cuba, MO.

Cuba, Mo Bette Davis Mural

The mural is appropriately placed on the Cuba Free Press building, home of Cuba's present newspaper.

Read  a previous entry “Bette Davis visits Cuba, MO.”

More public art in Cuba, MO….

Artist Ray Harvey points out a detail in his painting at the at Memory Center Communit.

Artist Ray Harvey points out a detail in his painting at the Memory Center Community.

Cuba, MO will soon have even more public art. For a small town of 3500, there’s an abundance of art both inside and outside. One of the offshoots of the  Viva Cuba’s Mural Project is that the community has embraced art in a big way.

Missouri rtist Ray Harvey is no stranger to Cuba’s art scene. He painted both the Bette Davis mural and the History at the 4-Way murals on the Phillips 66 Station. He painted the mural on My Place Tires and has painted both inside and outside the Catholic Church.

Harvey has three murals inside the Victorian Manor Assisted Living Facility.  The owner of Victorian Manor John Paul Quick first met Harvey as he was painting at the Phillips 66 Station. He told him that he was interested in having Harvey do some murals in a new assisted living facility that they were building in Cuba. The Quicks liked his work in their Cuba Victorian Manor and had Harvey paint more murals in their Victorian Manors in St. Clair and Sullivan.

Quick and his wife Nancy are now building their first Alzheimers’s facility called the Victorian Manor Memory Center Community in Cuba. Harvey is again painting murals throughout the Center to make it a warmer, more interesting place for the residents to live.

When the Center is finished in a couple of months, we will photograph all the murals for posting on our website under the Other Public Art link.  Then Harvey will be off to Washington, Missouri to paint murals in two Senior Housing Centers and another Alzheimer’s Facility.

See Other Public Art in Cuba, MO here.  This is art in Cuba, MO outside the Viva Cuba Mural Project, including the work of Ray Harvey.

Read “Bette Davis visits Cuba, MO” here

Read “Before and after images tell the tale of restoration in Cuba, MO” here, which tells about the restoration of the Phillips 66 Station and its murals.

Photo of the Week…

The Packard Wagon touring Route 66 brought a second look from passersby.

The Packard Wagon touring Route 66 brought a second look from passersby.

This week’s photo comes to us from Chris Case at the Cuba Free Press. As soon as he spied, the vintage Packard station wagon, he  realized that it was like the one in the Bette Davis mural atop the Cuba Free Press building. Case grabbed his camera for this photo opportunity.

It seems that the Packard’s owner Elliott Bayly (Left) of Duluth, MN stopped by the Cuba Free Press building in his restored Packard “woodie” wagon when he noticed the Packard  in the Bette Davis mural. He and his friend Bill Piggott of Evanston, Illinois, are touring Route 66 and were pleased to find Cuba and its murals.  Thanks to Mr. Case for sharing his photo.

For more information on the Bette Davis mural read “Bette Davis” visits Cuba, MO.”

4 Rt. 66 stops for Society of American Travel writer members…

The iconic Wagon Wheel sign beckons Route 66 travelers.

The iconic Wagon Wheel sign beckons Route 66 travelers.

Viva Cuba members met six members of the Society of American Travel Writer members and three officials from the Missouri Division of Tourism at the World’s Largest Rocker. They were interested in Route 66.  Here’s what they focused on as we toured:

1. The Rocker and meeting Dan Sanazaro, owner of the Fanning US 66 Outpost General Store: See “Route 66 landmark Guinness World’s Largest Rocking Chair celebrates second birthday.”

2. The Wagon Wheel Motel and its history:  See “Have You Ever Thought of a Facelift.”

3. The Bette Davis mural and the story behind it:  See “Bette Davis visits Cuba, MO.”  You will see the photo that sparked a footrace through Cuba’s streets.

4. The  restored 1931 Phillips 66 Station at junction of Hwy. 19 and Rt. 66: See “Cuba MO says good by to a long-time trooper and a piece of our history.”

We also discussed the popularity of Missouri Hick BBQ for Route 66 travelers. Unfortunately, the group had toured several BBQ places in Kansas City and were BBQed out and didn’t eat lunch there. They did stop by the Main Street Cafe for a good meal before leaving town.

Read the article in the Cuba Free Press chronicling their Visit to Cuba MO “Route 66 Mural City.”

If you are in the mood for a little of Bobby Troup’s “Get Your Kicks on Route 66…”

Get Your Kicks On Route 66!

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