The History Museum’s Legacy Award winners announced, dinner and raffle postponed indefinitely

The History Museum’s Legacy Awards Dinner, which was planned for April 24, has been postponed until further notice.

The museum announced the decision on April 20.

According to the museum, the Montana Department of Revenue’s Gambling Control Division permitted the museum to cancel its Legacy Raffle in light of the COVID-19 emergency and refunds will be offered to all who purchased tickets.

The History Museum, C.M. Russell Museum receive Montana History Foundation grants

Though the public gathering will not be held as planned, the honorees will be celebrated from a distance on the museum’s social media and website in coming weeks.

For 29 years, The History Museum has presented Legacy Awards to those individuals, businesses and organizations that have helped shape and promote the history of Cascade County and north central Montana.

Awards are presented in four categories: commercial business, non-commercial organization, 100 years of being in business and individual of the year.

The 2020 Annual Legacy Awards honor: Gusto Distributing, The Club Cigar, Little Shell Chippewa Tribe and John Godwin.

“This year’s non-commercial category serves as a very special award honoring the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe. The Little Shell trace their ancestry back to the Pembina Band of Plains Ojibwa and consist primarily of Anishinaabe and Metis people. Their painstaking journey to reestablish a relationship with the federal government recently came to an end on December 20, 2019 when the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 2870 of that Act restored the Little Shell Tribe’s relationship with the federal government, making them the 574th federally recognized tribe. Federal recognition of the Little Shell is one of the most significant historical events of our lifetime and we are honored to present this award to Chairman Gerald Gray on their behalf,” according to the museum.

Gusto Distributing was founded by James Bartley in 1954, the name was changed to Gusto by his successor H. Keith Erb.

Bruce and Ardelle Watkins purchased the business in 1965 and expanded inventory to include national and local brands. The family owned company has served north central Montana for more than six decades and employees more than 100 people. Ardelle Watkins, CEO and her son Len Watkins, President, of Gusto Distributing, will accept the Commercial Business Award.

The Tovson family owns the historic Club Cigar’s Tavern and will accept the Legacy award for the museum’s 100 Year Category.

The ‘Club’ was opened in 1914 by Henry Johnson at 410 Central Ave and moved a year later to 217 1st Ave. S. to operate in conjunction with the Great Falls Hotel. During Prohibition, it kept its doors open by selling cigars, lunches, billiards and bath facilities.  In 1931, the Club moved to 208 Central and was sold in 1932 to Ray and Lena Ford.

Farmers and ranchers used the Club as an unofficial employment office when they were in need of a cowboy or ranch hand. In 1978, Jon Tovson and Phil Kiser leased the building and did an extensive remodel. The walls are covered with photographs and memorabilia and the original 1904 Brunswick bar still greets the Club Cigar’s patrons that is now owned by the Tovson family, according to the museum.

The 2020 Person of the Year award goes to John Godwin.

In 1984, Godwin and his wife Susan opened Photo Plus in downtown Great Falls which specialized in both studio photography and photo processing. Whether it was capturing family portraits, snapping shots of every sports team in the city or hosting “Window on Cascade County,” (capturing our community on film,) community was always a big part of their business. Godwin assisted the Great Falls Ad Club as a board member, then president and eventually executive director for five years. He has served on several local boards, nationally on the National Student Advertising Campaign and enjoys investing time in the next generation. In 2018, he was appointed the director of the Out West Art Show and Sale.

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The museum will be posting images and history highlights for each for the awardees in weeks to come and “look forward to honoring our 2020 Legacy Award winners in person once circumstances change,” according to the museum.