Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

GEORGE F. OLENDORF. The theater has long been recognized as one of the world's indispensable institutions, and the management of theaters, if done judiciously, is a remunerative and pleasant one. Humanity needs amusement amid its exacting and trying daily occupations, truly "the show's the thing," as one of the wisest of men remarked. The human mind must relax, must find relief at times, "must lose itself in other men's minds," as the great essayist, Lamb, wrote. This can be done in no better way than in spending an hour or so at a good play-house. The theater has been popular with the masses-men and women of all creeds and convictions, of all parties and denominations from remote ancient history to the present time, from the days of Grecian one-act, outdoor tragedies to the latest twentieth century complex grand opera, and it will ever be so. George F. Olendorf, of Springfield, has long given his attention to the theater business, and is widely known throughout southwestern Missouri in this particular field. He has met with gratifying success because he has been industrious, has had the tact of knowing what the people want and because he has always been desirous of giving his thousands of patrons adequate returns for their money and time. He has made it a study and has therefore kept well abreast of the times in this line of endeavor.

Mr. Olendorf was born in Middleport, New York, July 20, 1875. He is a son of George H. and Caroline (Forrest) Olendorf, both parents also natives of the state of New York, where they grew to maturity, attended school and were married. George H. Olendorf devoted his earlier life to the drug business in his native locality in central New York. Back in the seventies he removed with his family to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he engaged in the furniture business fifteen or twenty years and where he resided until twelve years ago, when he moved to Springfield, in which city he and his wife still reside, living in retirement. The father has been a successful business man and laid by a competency for his old age.

George F. Olendorf, the only child of his parents, was a small child when the family moved from the state of New York to St. Joseph, Missouri, and there he grew to manhood and received a common school education. In September, 1893, he began his career in the theater business, which he has continued to the present time with ever-increasing success. He began in St. Joseph, and was also cashier of the large Tootle estate and had charge of the Tootle Theater, the leading playhouse there, remaining with this estate for about eight years, giving eminent satisfaction in every respect. Then he and three other men leased a circuit of thirty-two theaters in the state of Missouri, which proved to be a paying venture. Mr. Olendorf came to Springfield in 1903 and leased the old Baldwin Theater on St. Louis street, one of the finest theaters south of the Missouri river in this state, with the exception of St. Louis, for many years, if not the finest. He managed this with his usual success until it was destroyed by fire in 1909. Afterward he was instrumental in promoting the new Landers Theater on Walnut street, which he leased and managed until 19112, when he re-leased it and promoted the Bell-Olendorf-Ballard Amusement Company, of which he is president and which operates sixteen summer theaters, including the Skydome in Springfield. He is also manager of the Springfield Poster Advertising Company, and maintains offices in the Landers Theater building. Each of these new ventures has proven successful and he is kept busy in their management.

Mr. Olendorf was married on November 17, 1902, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Matilda Meyer, who was born in St. Joseph, this state. She is a daughter of J. B. and Marie Meyer, both natives of Germany, from which country they came to the United States when young.

To our subject and wife three children have been born, namely: Marie Caroline, born on May 3, 1905; George Meyer, born on November 17, 1910, died August 3, 1911; and Forrest George, born on October 7, 1912.

Mr. Olendorf is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Springfield Club; also is a thirty-second degree Mason, belonging to the Knights Templars. He is active in Masonic affairs, and his daily life is led along the lines laid down by this time-honored order.


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