KX Summer Road Trip: 90-year-old Fort Stevenson volunteer Ralph Sayler is ‘a true gem’

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Continuing our coverage leading up to the KX on the Road Summer Road Trip to Fort Stevenson State Park on Friday, we met up with a volunteer who’s spent decades preserving the fort’s history for visitors.

“As you can see from his wealth of knowledge, he’s just really a true gem for us!” said Park Manager Chad Trautman.

Trautman is talking about volunteer Ralph Sayler.

He’s been involved with the Fort Stevenson Foundation for the last 30 years as an interpreter.
But before that…

“I was a clergyman,” he said.
Really?
“Yes, for 30 years.”

And this 90-year-old certainly knows his stuff…with a little help from some props.

“As I go along, you know, they remind me what I’m going to say next,” Sayler said.

Sayler says he’s read every single book at the Interpretive Center. The most important one is the journal General Régis de Trobriand wrote.

“This is our bible!” he said.

Sayler shares the history of the park with guests of all ages who visit the Interpretive Center.

“When the school kids come in the spring, I kind of have a special program that I do for them,” Sayler said.

“He’s very memorable for people and when they do get to experience his presentation, or his talks or performances, he really touches them,” Trautman said.

To add a little something extra to everyone’s experience, Sayler taught himself how to play instruments that were played during the 1800s.

“If you would’ve been at the fort 150 years ago, you probably would’ve heard this tune…” Sayler said with a smile.

He says knowing the history of the instrument is important to him.

“I could play all day!” he said, laughing.

“Some of those, my father played on the violin and others I look them up on the computer. I know the names of them and try to find out the history of these tunes,” Sayler said.

Sayler will be at the Fort Stevenson Frontier Military Days on June 26.

We also learned the history of the area from Ralph and will share that here on KX News on Thursday night.

More KX on the Road in Garrison

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