Passion and Community Set Community Leaders Apart


Last week we had the pleasure of visiting the home of John and Jenny Hornblow, who hosted us and John Wall for dinner. It was a wonderful evening filled with stories of their visits to Missoula, explanations of cultural values and language, exceptional food and beverages cultivated from local grounds and prepared with care in a gorgeous historic home filled with family photos and beautiful art, several from Missoula-artist Monte Dolack. The community of Palmerston North has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from both the professional and personal endeavors of these three distinguished and passionate leaders. Tom, Madelyn and I are fortunate to know them and call them friends.

Interestingly, the Hornblows live just four blocks from us, so of course we walked to their home. It’s been really fun to walk and bike everywhere, and I am thankful for Missoula’s efforts to build sidewalks and connect trails throughout our community.  We enjoyed John Wall’s homemade Ginger Beer along with appetizers. John and Jenny prepared a beautiful, locally-raised lamb roast with roasted root vegetables, many of which they grew in their garden. Dessert was apricot crunch, made with apricots from their backyard, and home-made custard. It was delightful!

From Left: Linda McCarthy, John Hornblow, Jenny Hornblow, John Wall

These three individuals have been friends for close to 30 years and have worked together to serve and promote the Sister City program between Palmerston North and Missoula. Jenny spent most of her career in music education at Massey University and beyond. John Hornblow is well-known in the community for a variety of things, including service as the Deputy Mayor, Anglican Church Dean of the City, and as entrepreneur and leadership coach for Nexus Partners. John Wall served a lifetime as an educator and administrator, retiring as foundation headmaster of Awatapu College some 20+ year ago and has served in a leadership role, both as a volunteer and as a referee, with the local and national croquet organizations.

Over dinner, they told of their first experience in Missoula when Jenny Hornblow and John Wall represented Palmerston North and New Zealand at the International Choral Festival ( in 1996, the year the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta. At the closing performance of the festival, it was announced that Kiwi Danyon Loader had won the country’s first Olympic Medal in swimming since 1912. The New Zealand Choir was given the opportunity to sing an additional song, and they chose a patriotic American song, which raised the hair on their necks when all the Americans in the audience stood, took off their hats, and put their hands on their hearts. It was a very emotional and memorable moment for that group of singers who had travelled across the globe to perform at a special event produced and hosted by a special community (

John Wall and Jenny Hornblow–1996 International Choral Festival Participants

I first met John Wall during his visit to the Garden City in 2001. Tom and I met John and Jenny Hornblow during their visit to Missoula in 2010. The Missoula Cultural Council (, under the direction of Tom Benson, is responsible for the Sister City program in Missoula. In Palmerston North, the program is the responsibility of the Sister City Committee, of which the pair of Johns has carried for the last 15+ years. Both are seeking new leadership and interested young professionals for the Sister City Committee, and I am hopeful we can help them accomplish that goal over the next few months. Ironically, the Palmerston North Public Library hosted a presentation recently on the Sister City relationship between Masterton, New Zealand and Changchun, China. I was one of about 25 individuals who attended, listening to Masterton District Council Member Jonathan Hooker talk about the benefits of the program. The benefits included international exchange between students, faculty and community members; travel and tourism; public-art trade and installations; artists-in-residence; business trade; major Chinese investments in New Zealand; and development of a major employment center for the small-town of Masterton (population 23,500), which is about 100 kilometers south of Palmerston North (population 82,000) on the way to Wellington (population 200,000).  There is so much untapped opportunity to grow and learn from each other in the areas of education, commerce, trade, arts and culture, governance, environment and much more, but leadership, passion and succession are definitely needed to keep the program vibrant and successful.

John Wall Stands in front of Monte Dolack’s “Missoula Valley”.

Great efforts have been given to the Sister City program over the last 15-20 years. Missoulians like Barbara Koostra, David Morganroth, Mark Martin, Geoffrey Sutton, Willie & Evelyn Brown, Paul and Peggy Miller, John Oetinger and the 2011 Missoula Maggot Rugby Team, among others have served as ambassadors and hosts for those travelling between the two communities. Many others, such as Tom Swenson, Sage Grendahl, and soon-to-be Kevin & Carolyn Davis, have simply just travelled to Palmerston North or nearby because of the Sister City program.

From Left: John Wall, Linda McCarthy John Hornblow and Monte Dolack’s artwork.

In our short time here, I can see many similarities between the two communities, and there are enormous opportunities to learn from each other if the desire is there. It will be interesting to see what, if any, aspirations there are to enhance the activities and benefits of having a Sister City.

We had a wonderful evening with the John Wall and the Hornblows. They are passionate about the community they live in, and they are quite fond of Missoula, Montana. It’s fun to see my community through the eyes of a visitor.



Linda McCarthy has served as Executive Director of the Missoula Downtown Association since 1999. Prior to that, she served as a Sports Information Director for Grizzly Athletics for 10 years. She is a two-time graduate of The University of Montana, where her husband, Tom Gallagher, is a professor in the Applied Computing and Electronics Program at Missoula College. Her daughter, Maddy Gallagher, is an outgoing and kind 11-year-old who has spent all of her school years at Lewis & Clark Elementary. They can be reached via email at: