Lifetime connection to Mizzou campus sparks board member’s involvement

Cindy Mustard

MUBG Board Member Cindy Mustard

Mizzou Botanic Garden (MUBG) board member Cindy Mustard’s ties to the MU campus reach back to the University’s earliest days. The Conley House, located on the corner of Sanford and Conley, was built by her great-grandfather Sandford Conley and originally occupied five acres of land. In 1973, the Conley House was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Of the Conley’s five children, Mustard’s grandmother was the only daughter. George and Elizabeth Miller, Mustard’s parents, lived directly across the street from the Conley House until 1952. “As I recall, the back of the house had a formal rose garden,” Mustard said.

Mustard attended Hickman High School and earned a degree in History from MU. In the early 70s, she and husband Marvin lived in an apartment in the Conley house for two years while he completed a degree in landscape design. Barbara Uehling served as MU Chancellor in 1980, when the University Mustard’s family sold the house to the University, pleased by Uehling’s endorsement of campus beautification and the preservation of historic buildings. Mustard served on the Chancellor’s Residence Preservation Commission.

MUBG has its roots in Uehling’s vision for a campus so attractive that it beckons to visitors and alumni and encourages them to return.

Cindy and house

Above, photos taken in 1970 of Cindy Mustard and the Conley House — 100 years after the house was built by Mustard’s great-grandfather on what is now the MU campus.

Hometown roots, ties and ardor

Columbia residents who’ve never met Mustard still might find her determined and smiling face familiar. Many more will recognize her name from her 20 successful years as executive director of Boone County’s Voluntary Action Center (VAC). Mustard’s passion and energy to provide goods and services to individuals struggling with basic needs, and her successful boost of volunteerism in the county, were well documented.

After retiring from VAC in 2011, Mustard launched Tiger Trolley Tours with Jolene Schulz, providing customized tours of Columbia to groups of all shapes and sizes, based on their interests.

“We’ve done everything from historical tours to specially requested party tours,” she said. “We’ve done reunion tours, tours for new students and tours to introduce new residents to Columbia.”

Mustard’s husband died in late 2017. The couple’s daughter, Kate Conley Mustard-Tallon, is living in Amsterdam with her family and working for Netflix. Her grandson’s middle name also is Conley.

“We’re keeping the Conley name going,” she said.

In addition to being a MUBG board member, Mustard continues to share her time and energy with a number of additional organizations in Boone County. She works with the Family Impact Center addressing the needs of low-income families, and is a member of the 2020 Boone County Bicentennial Commission. Mustard is the current president of the Columbia Public School Foundation, serves on the house board of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and the Columbia Cemetery Association Board of Trustees.

“I have a strong ties interest in the University. I met Pete [Millier, MUBG executive director] and was impressed with what he was doing on campus,” Mustard said of her choice to serve on the garden’s board.

“I’m not much of a gardener. That was Marvin’s thing. But you don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate the beauty and value of a garden. I’m very impressed with how the campus looks.”

Story by Jan-Wiese-Fales