Longtime executive director of Elvis Presley Birthplace retires
Dick Guyton's last day on the job is also Elvis' birthday
TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – The man who has led the state’s most popular tourist attraction for the past twenty years is retiring.
Dick Guyton spent his last day as executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace helping to lead a celebration on what would have been Elvis’ 87th birthday.
Guyton took the executive director’s position in the summer of 2002, only weeks before another big celebration in the Elvis world.
“I came to work the 17th of July 2002, about three weeks prior to fan appreciation day, which happened to be the twenty fifth anniversary of Elvis’ death, I had no idea what fan appreciation day was, but it was a shock to see all of those people here, had 850 people from England in one group here, was overflowing,” Guyton said.
Guyton quickly learned about the loyalty of Elvis fans, and their desire to see where everything started for the original American Idol. During his twenty years on the job,Guyton oversaw many improvements, including a renovation of the museum, with many personal items from Elvis and the Presley family.
“People could understand what it was like growing up in rural Mississippi in the 1930s and 40s, they knew what it was like to be poor, knew what was going on in the country at that time,” he said.
He also helped lead a major renovation and addition which included the event center and a state of the art theater, with offices , a meeting room and patio.
“At that time, people from England and Europe were saying, we need a place to go, we want to do more, that’s what we hoped this new facility would do, and it did,”Guyton said.
Guyton also oversaw improvements to the lake on the property, and the purchase and renovation of the actual building where the Presley family attended church services, and the creation of the “Becoming” statue, standing on top of the overlook.
Through the years, Guyton has made lasting friendships with Elvis fans from across the United States , and the world. He says that has been one of the highlights of what he describes as the best part of his work life.
“This is a fun place to be. People are happy when they come, they are excited, they are really Elvis fans and they show it as they look around, and talk and take pictures, and visit with other fans, it’s just a great place to be and watch people,” Guyton said.
Although he’s retiring, Guyton says he plans on being back at the birthplace for special events, like fan days , birthday celebrations and other observances.
Roy Turner was selected as the new executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum. Turner, who is an Elvis historian has been on the job for about six weeks now.