By Savanah Mandeville • Photos by Hannah Sanderson Photography

“Under the leadership of Lee Radcliff, Show Me The Ozarks has overcome and thrived through multiple hardships. Among them: 9/11, the Great Recession, the Joplin tornado and Covid-19. Lee has maintained her vision to give voice to the stories of the Four-State communities and tell their stories. The Four-States Region has few champions like Lee Radcliff and the Show Me The Ozarks team!”

-Ed Gibson, President, Gibson Print Source

Lee Radcliff-Timmsen has always had two major passions that drive her: small business and the communities of the Four States.

Her love for our area’s unique businesses and people is what first gave her the idea to start a regional magazine in the first place, back when she was in the billboard business with South Outdoor Advertising in the 1980s and 1990s. When South Outdoor Advertising sold to Lamar Advertising, Lee saw an opportunity.

“I thought, ‘This could be my chance to follow my dream of starting a magazine,’” she said. “My heart is in Joplin; however, I love all my small communities, too. I love the small markets and already had relationships with so many businesses because of working with them on billboards.”

Lee saw a magazine as a way to creatively promote small businesses and tell more of their story than what could fit on a billboard.

She decided to go for it. With the help of three employees and three writers, the first issue of Show Me The Ozarks was printed in August 2001 with Arde’s Villa in Redings Mill on the cover. The magazine had just 40 pages.

“Seeing the first magazine in print and seeing my vision come to life was so amazing,” she said. “It was like I was holding my wildest dreams right in my hands.”

Lee has been boots-on-the-ground ever since. Anyone who knows her knows she works tirelessly to make each edition of the magazine a success. The magazine is truly her passion and greatest life’s work, and she does it all for the same reasons that she started.

“The number-one reason SMTO exists is because we love this area, and we want to highlight all the awesome things that happen here.” she said. “Our purpose is to reflect the beauty that exists in our people, our businesses, our nonprofit organizations and more. We tell the stories of the people, businesses and communities that create the overall personality of our region. We also have to listen carefully to the unsung heroes, local business owners and small-town leaders because their story needs to be told, but they often are the last to toot their own horn.”

This month marks 240 editions of the magazine, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Lee and her team also put out annual Christmas catalogs and wedding guides.

They also deeply care about giving back, and SMTO has come to be an active and involved entity in the community.

“In 2016, we celebrated the Bright Lights and Red Carpet Wine and Dine Gala to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, raising $14,070,” Lee said. “In 2012, we hosted a Wine, Dine & Donate event that included a fashion show. That event raised $12,000 for the Ronald McDonald House. Each October, we hold several events and fundraisers to benefit breast cancer research such as our Covers for a Cause event. We also have annual contests that raise thousands of dollars for local charities and nonprofits.”

After the tornado, Show Me staff writers and photographers visited about how they could help Joplin.

“We published a special tribute edition in honor of all the lives touched by the destruction of the tornado,” Lee said. “Altogether, the proceeds from this book and fundraising event have raised $25,000 for relief funds. That same year, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a Wine, Dine & Donate event that raised $10,000 for United Way’s Joplin Tornado Fund.”

Show Me is also a proud sponsor of the Joplin Memorial Half Marathon. They sponsor and participate in several area 5k’s, including the Big Red Shoe run for Ronald McDonald House and the annual Race 4 Hope to benefit Hope 4 You Breast Cancer foundation.

It’s for these reasons Show Me The Ozarks has come to be a symbol of positivity and growth in the community. Lee said a frequent compliment she hears is people appreciate a publication that highlights the positive when so much of the media today focuses on the negative.

“Our vision now and for the future is to be a force for positivity and growth in the community,” Lee said. “We are proud of our communities and the people in them, and that reflects back in the magazine. Our culture is one of positivity and kindness.”

Lee also said one of the greatest compliments and honors she has received over the years is the loyalty of so many friends in business.

“I still have so many clients that have known me and have been my friend throughout my journey, over 35 years!” she said. “I strive to always be caring and passionate about my small businesses. I understand their struggles and concerns. I’m so grateful for them, and I really care, and I’m available to them anytime.”

Lee is very close to her family; in fact, they work with her. Her sister, Sue Dillmon, is the office manager and marketing manager. Kristi Tucker, her sister-in-law, is her designer and accounting manager. Jim Tucker is her brother and delivers magazines. Lee’s husband, Scott Timmsen, is an honorary SMTO employee and can be found at every event, expo, art walk and more.

“Scott is my right-hand man,” Lee said. “I’m so grateful for his help and support.”

When they’re not working, Lee and Scott enjoy spending time with their dogs, Lily and Molly, and going on day trips around the area. Their greatest joy is three beloved granddaughters, Briley, Briana and Madelynn.