After 25 Years

With this entry we conclude a full 25 years of the Osborne County Kansas Hall of Fame.  From 1996 to 2021 the Hall has been presenting the stories of 222 (some count 225) notable past and present citizens and native sons & daughters of Osborne County, Kansas, and the time has come for the Hall to take a significant, if not a permanent, pause.   A heartfelt thanks goes out to the great many people who have helped with the Hall of Fame over the long years, from across the county and beyond.  We trust that some knowledge worthy of remembrance as been imparted along the way, and we will hope for some young, eager and worthy student of history to rise up and carry on examining the rich heritage of Osborne County, which continues on though we ourselves end things here.  

“The Hall is closed.” 

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Dan Carl Yunk – Winter 2021 Inductee

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the winter.

And so on this date, January 8, 2022, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the sixth – and last – inductee of the OCHF Winter Class of 2021.

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Dan Carl Yunk has been recognized as an exemplary educator, the CEO of the largest agricultural advocacy organization in Kansas, an honored K-State alum and a valued Manhattan, Kansas community contributor. Most importantly he is a loving son, husband, father and grandfather. Dan was born June 28, 1949, in Concordia, Kansas. He was the only child of Jacob Carl Yunk and Elberta June (Kaser) Yunk. A combat veteran of World War II, Jake worked as a parts man for Kaser Implement until his retirement.  Elberta was the face of the First State Bank of Osborne for 45 years retiring as Vice President, Director and shareholder.

Baby Dan with his parents, Jacob and Elberta Yunk.
High school senior picture

Arriving in Osborne days after his birth, Dan grew up happily in a place he has always been proud to call his hometown surrounded by members of his Yunk and Kaser families and many friends. He attended the Osborne Public Schools from kindergarten through high school, graduating from OHS in 1967 as class salutatorian.

While in high school, Dan was highly engaged in a variety of activities. He was a member of the Alpha Club and Honor Roll all four years of high school. Dan lettered in football, basketball and golf. His senior year he led the all-victorious Bulldogs in defensive tackles from his linebacker position. He participated in Band and Choir, forensics and plays; was editor of the Swan Song yearbook and an active writer for the Hi-Tide school newspaper; won state medals for choir, forensics and state scholastic competitions; was a class officer three years and vice-president of Student Council his senior year; and was a Boys State delegate.

Dan always appreciated the foundation he received from growing up and attending school in Osborne. In a Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Newsletter column he authored as USD 383 Superintendent of Schools, he stated: “I never knew personally many of the individuals who built the schools and churches I attended in Osborne, Kansas, but to this day I appreciate the sacrifices that they had to endure in doing so and feel that I along with many others have benefited from their investment.” 

Following graduation from high school, Dan attended Kansas State University, where he graduated with honors with a B.S. in Secondary Education in 1971. In 1975 he earned a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction and in 1987 a Ph.D. in Educational Administration also from K-State. He joined the Delta Chi Fraternity as an entering freshman at the urging of his high school friend Steve Bihlmaier. Very active in the fraternity, Dan served as Vice-President, Pledge Advisor and two terms as President of the House. He was awarded the Delta Chi Alumni Portrait of Achievement Award his senior year. Years later, Dan received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Delta Chi chapter in 2019. While a student at Kansas State University, Dan was a member of the Interfraternity Council and was selected to membership in the Phi Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Kappa Delta Pi academic honorary societies.

In the summers of his college years, Dan returned home to Osborne to work and help pay for his college tuition. After his freshman year he served as a life guard for the Osborne Swimming Pool and gave Red Cross swimming lessons in Osborne and Downs. The next three summers he worked for the Osborne County Farmer covering community meetings, events and sports. His sports column titled “Yunk’s Hot Corner” became a popular item in the Farmer. He also coached the Cookie baseball team and then the American Legion baseball team while a college student. The 1970 Cookie team led by a nucleus of Big Al Boyle, Little Al Burch, Steve Christie, Scott Sigle and Kenny Ubelaker won the state tournament.

After graduating from K-State in May, Dan married Cheryl Ann Maneth in Great Bend on August 6, 1971.    Two weeks after their honeymoon the happy couple moved into the Delta Chi fraternity house and served as the third set of house parents on the K-State campus.

Cheryl was a senior doing her student teaching when Dan began his career in education at Riley County High School that year. He taught English and Speech and coached football, basketball, forensics and directed the plays. While at Riley County he was asked to be the coach for the first ever girls basketball program at RCHS.

Dan’s first positions in USD 383 were as a substitute teacher and then Director of Summer School while he pursued additional graduate coursework at Kansas State University. In 1980 he was hired as Assistant Principal at Manhattan High School. When his parents would visit Dan at the high school, they would marvel at how many students attended MHS. With nearly 2000 students, it matched or exceeded the population of his hometown. As Activities Director, Dan quickly became a favorite of the MHS student body and was awarded his second Honorary Chapter Farmer designation.

Following three years at MHS, Dan was hired as principal at Northview Elementary School where he served until 1992. Dan often stated that his nine years at Northview were the best experience of his career in education. It was at Northview that statewide, national and international recognition happened for the school and for Dan.

Northview Elementary received a number of prestigious awards and recognition during Yunk’s tenure as principal. In 1987 NV was selected by the US Department of Education as a National Exemplary School.

This earned Yunk and key staff a trip to Washington, D.C. where President Reagan spoke to the honored school personnel and a U.S. flag and plaque were presented to Yunk for display at the school. As a result, Dan was also named a Distinguished Principal by the National Elementary School Principals Association.

In 1990 due to their recent recognition and continued outstanding performance, Northview was selected as one of four schools from across the nation to highlight good practices in America’s schools on the national television documentary “Learning in America: Schools that Work.” Renown journalist Roger Mudd of CBS, NBC and MacNeil/Lehrer fame and a five-time Emmy award winner, starred in the production that received national and international acclaim.  Mudd spent a week complete with a crew videoing teacher classroom lessons, recording personnel interviews and chronicling other school activities.  

The documentary was featured in the TV Guide and other national publications plus many major newspapers.

As Mr. Mudd noted in correspondence with Yunk, “Looking back, I can’t imagine how we could have done our program on schools that work without Northview. Your school set the tone, the pace and the standard for the entire broadcast.”

After airing on national TV, phone calls and invitations flooded the school and principal Dan traveled across the country talking about school leadership, change, academic achievement and Northview’s successes.

Many exciting educational opportunities resulted from the national documentary exposure. One of the most intriguing was a partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Kinlichee school on Navajo tribal ground in Arizona. A second was a relationship with a noted scientist and explorer who planted a Northview flag on Antarctica and shared his travel experiences and scientific findings with the student body through frequent written communication and a personal visit to Northview.

As a result of this special achievement, Dan and others at Northview School were honored in 1990 by the State of Kansas in Senate Resolution No. 1866.

During his tenure at Northview, Dan became engaged with The MASTER Teacher organization as a consulting cadre member. He appeared in a video for teachers and administrators and wrote articles for several of The MASTER Teacher publications that were all marketed nationally. Dan was a featured presenter in The MASTER Teacher academies held for school educators across the country. His primary focus was on school leadership.

In addition, Dan authored the book School Yard Humor that was published and sold by The MASTER Teacher.

Following Yunk’s successful tenure at Northview, Dan was selected as Associate Superintendent of USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden. The following year he became the USD 383 Superintendent of Schools. His first year in the position he led the passing of a major bond issue resulting in the building of two new middle schools and an elementary school.

In the years that followed, he worked closely with the Dean of K-State’s College of Education in developing a nationally recognized partnership called the Professional Development School Model. It  earned sizable grant dollars for the university, garnered much national recognition for both the college and the school district and years later is still in operation benefiting college and USD 383 students.  In 1999 Dan was selected by the Kansas Commissioner of Education to serve as Chair of the statewide Council of Superintendents. In addition, in his final year as superintendent Yunk was one of twenty-three educators honored nationwide as an inaugural recipient of the National Excellence in Education Leadership Award from the University Council for Educational Leadership. During his time as a 383 administrator, Dan also served as a College of Education Associate Professor at Kansas State University teaching a course on the superintendency.

In July 2000 Dan made a major career change. He retired from public education and was hired as Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources for Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB). Leaving behind a highly successful 28-year career in education that he had enjoyed immensely was difficult but the challenge of doing something totally different at age 50 and working for the “Voice of Agriculture” for Kansas agriculture was too enticing. Within two years and after a national search, Yunk was elevated to the position of Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KFB.

When Dan retired from KFB at the end of December 2013, it was with much personal satisfaction for taking such a major career risk and succeeding. At Dan’s final KFB Annual Meeting, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran gifted him a United States flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his service to agriculture and to its farmers and ranchers.

During Yunk’s time at KFB much was accomplished. Under his direction a major strategic initiative called Roadmap 2000 was launched and proved highly successful in charting a future path for the organization. KFB was honored as the outstanding State Farm Bureau by the American Farm Bureau at the 2009 AFBF Annual Meeting and received the inaugural Pinnacle award. KFB went on to win the Pinnacle Award for an unprecedented three years in a row (2009-2011) during Dan’s tenure. Yunk was presented the Friend of Kansas Farm Bureau Award a year after his retirement for his dedication to agriculture and the KFB organization.

One of the major highlights at KFB was Yunk’s authoring of a series of children’s books that gained national popularity. The award-winning books focused on agriculture in a fun but factual style. The main character was his granddaughter Kailey who inspired his writing the books. To date seven softcover books and one hardcover anthology have been published and are still available for purchase.

The list of books include: Milk Comes from a Cow?, The Soil Neighborhood, Farmers and Ranchers Care about their Animals, Celebrate Wheat, Growing up Strong, Kailey’s Pig ‘Tales’, Jobs Farmers Do and a hardback anthology titled Kailey’s Ag Adventures. Both Milk Comes from a Cow? (Best Communications Tool award) and Farmers and Ranchers Care about their Animals (Best Graphic Design award) were recognized by the American Farm Bureau in national competitions in 2008 and 2010 respectively.  In addition, a social media app based on his first book Milk Comes from a Cow? was developed. Dan traveled across the state of Kansas for a number of years reading his books and talking about agriculture in classrooms and at school assemblies, county fairs, county Farm Bureau meetings and special community events. One of Dan’s favorite outings was when he was invited back to his hometown to participate in an author’s workshop. He visited Osborne students in their classrooms, presented an assembly in the high school auditorium and delivered a community keynote in the New Gym. Other memorable outings were his travels to his granddaughters’ schools in the Shawnee Mission and DeSoto school districts.  

Following Yunk’s retirement from KFB the end of 2013, a year of travel far and wide and more quality grandchildren time became the agenda for the Yunks. Little did Dan know that K-State would come calling again, however. He was asked by the Dean of the College of Education to consider coming out of retirement and assuming the title of Professor and Executive Director for the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI). KELI, a statewide cooperative effort of Kansas State University, the State Department of Education, the Kansas School Board Association and the United School Administrators, was established to meet state mandates. KELI’s mission is to induct and mentor new, first time superintendents and principals and provide professional learning opportunities to enhance their chances for successful experiences in the field. Not able to tell his alma mater no, Dan committed to two years of service in 2014. During that time, he enhanced the program by adding assistant principals, central office administrators and special education directors to the list of administrators KELI serves while strengthening its popularity, reach and financial viability. When he retired in 2016, the KELI offices within the College of Education were named after Dan and his wife Cheryl.

K-State has long been important to Dan and Cheryl since their graduation. It is a “place they love full well.” They are huge Wildcat fans and wear their purple with pride. Both are lifetime members of the K-State Alumni Association as are their three children. Dan was elected to the national board of directors for the K-State Alumni Association and then was selected by his peers to serve as the Chairman of the Board in 2016-2017 in the midst of serving a record eight years on the board. The Yunks are active Traveling Wildcat participants and have hosted three of the trips themselves – the Danube River Cruise from Prague to Sofia, the Seine River Cruise from Paris to Normandy Beach and an ocean cruise through the Panama Canal which included a day stop in Cuba. Dan and Cheryl’s family gifted the KSU Obelisk in 2014 that stands proudly at the entrance of the alumni association building. 

For the College of Education, Dan and Cheryl established the Yunk Excellence in School Administration Award in 2005 which is presented annually in the spring at the K-State Commencement. Dan has been asked to serve as K-State Commencement speaker to graduating classes in 1997 and 2016.

In 2009 Dan was selected as a K-State Alumni Fellow for his contributions to K-State and the College of Education. This is one of K-State’s most prominent honors. Yunk was celebrated on campus for two days – visiting with Bill Snyder in his office, President Wefald, Dean Holen and other officials across campus; presenting lectures to College of Education professors; meeting with undergraduate students training to be teachers and graduate students pursuing higher degrees; dining with campus dignitaries and Alumni Fellows from other K-State Colleges; and finally, being recognized by the University President and campus Deans at a banquet in the Fellows’ honor.

Other Kansas State University engagements over the years have included serving on the K-State President’s Advisory Committee for Intercollegiate Athletics; chairing the College of Education‘s Developmental Council; co-chairing the Alumni Association’s Innovation and Inspiration campaign; serving on the KSU Foundation board of directors; being a long-time member of the Ahearn Athletic Fund and season ticket holder; serving on the KSU Golf Course Management and Research Foundation board of directors; being a Colbert Hills Founder and serving as a member of the McCain Auditorium board of directors.

In the larger Manhattan community, Dan was honored as the Citizen of the Year in 2014; was recognized as one of Manhattan’s Most Admired Citizens in both 1995 and 1996; was elected Chair of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; was selected by the Boy Scouts as the Jack Goldstein Good Scouter award; was chosen as the Leadership Manhattan Alumnus of the Year; was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Manhattan Rotary Club; was President of the Parish Council when the St. Thomas More Church was constructed and was involved in the building campaign of a new St. Isidore’s Church on the K-State campus; and served on and chaired numerous other boards of directors for civic and charitable Manhattan organizations over the years.

On the state of Kansas level, Yunk was appointed by Kansas Governors Sebelius, Parkinson and Brownback to serve on the Information Network of Kansas Committee from 2004-2012 and chaired the committee on three separate occasions. Dan was also appointed to the Kansas Broadband Advisory Task Force by Governor Brownback in 2012. In 2007 he was asked by Governor Sebelius to serve on the Kansas, Inc. State Strategic Plan Steering Committee. During his tenure at KFB, he was a member of the Kansas Advisory Committee for Career and Technical Education which was a passion of Dan’s. While Superintendent of USD 383, the Manhattan Technical College was under Dan and the Board of Education’s jurisdiction and he came to truly value the importance of technical education to our society. Also on the state level, Dan was selected by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce for the 1987 Leadership Kansas class.

Dan’s personal motto which he has lived by for years is “Unless you model what you teach, you are teaching something else.” He has applied this motto in all his professional roles and even as a parent. He firmly believes actions speak more loudly and clearly than words. Walking your talk and leading by example, mixed with a good sense of humor, are keys to successful leadership.

Dan has been married to Cheryl, the love of his life, since August 6, 1971. They have three children – Carey, Jill and Craig – who all graduated from K-State and went on to earn their medical degrees. Dr. Craig and Dr. Jill are in private practices in Orlando and Kansas City, respectively. Dr. Carey works for KU Medical School training residents and owns and operates the Kansas City Little Medical School franchise. Dan and Cheryl are also blessed with a wonderful son-in-law Brannan (Jill) and daughter-in-law Johanna (Craig). Proud grandparents, the Yunks have eight grandchildren – Kailey, Addie, Ellie, Nicholas, Brynley, Christopher, William and Christian – ranging from age twenty to age three.

Image taken on May 29, 2021, of Dan Yunk, OHS Alumni Parade Grand Marshal, and his wife Cheryl together with Von Rothenberger, Parade Grand Marshal, at the Osborne City 150th Sesquicentennial Celebration Parade at Osborne, Kansas.

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Dan and Cheryl Yunk, Manhattan, KS

Articles and newspaper clippings from various newspapers/magazines/other print materials including but not limited to The Manhattan Mercury, The Osborne County Farmer, The Free Press, The Mentor, Time Magazine, TV Guide, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Salina Journal, Topeka Capital-Journal, Kansas Living, The Farm Leader Letter, The MASTER Teacher Views, Insights & Perspectives, The K-Stater Magazine, The Commerce Connection, Good for K-State, Grass & Grain, Inside Manhattan Ogden USD 383 Public Schools, 383 Staff Connection, K-State Today, Smoky Hills Public Television Program Guide, Teaching K-8 Journal, Public TV & Public Radio for South Dakota Program Guide, The Miami Herald, The New York Times, New York Daily News, Journal of the Kansas Senate, Education Week, The McPherson Sentinel, Lawrence Journal World, The Kansas City Star, and The Wichita Eagle.

Riley County High School Falcon school yearbooks from 1972 to 1979

Osborne High School 1966 and 1967 Swan Song yearbooks

Personal letters from Roger Mudd

Correspondence, release forms, parental notifications, shooting schedules, transcript of final edited production and congratulatory letters from MacNeil/ Lehrer Productions

Letters from local and state politicians, national officials, professional association/organization leadership and university leadership

Award Certificates, programs, brochures, annual reports and marketing materials

Correspondence from students, colleagues, school district patrons, community members, friends, county Farm Bureaus and KFB members

Internet, social media and website citations and postings

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With this story we conclude a full 25 years of the Osborne County Hall of Fame. From 1996 to 2021 the Hall has been presenting the stories of notable past and present citizens and native sons & daughters of Osborne County, Kansas, and the time has come for the Hall to take a significant, if not a permanent, pause. A heartfelt thanks goes out to the great many people who have helped with the Hall of Fame over the long years, from across the county and beyond. We trust that some knowledge worthy of remembrance as been imparted along the way, and we will hope for some young, eager and worthy student of history to rise up and carry on examining the rich heritage of Osborne County, which continues on though we ourselves end things here.

The Hall is closed.

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Stanley Evans and Deanna Louise (Nonamaker) Roach – Winter 2021 Inductees

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the winter.

And so on this date, January 7, 2022, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the sixth inductees of the OCHF Winter Class of 2021.

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[The following was taken from the Alton Empire of August 19, 2021, Page One.]

Stan and Deanna Roach are 2021 Jubilee Grand Marshals

Although Stan and Deanna Roach are only 10 days apart in age and their parents were all part of the Alton community, the couple’s paths did not cross until they entered first grade at Alton during the 1957-1958 school year.  After that, it took another 11 years for the stars to align before the two began dating the final semester of their senior year at Alton High School.

The flood of 1951 took the South Solomon River bridge out at Alton on July 12, 1951.  Three weeks later, Deanna Louise was born August 2 at the “new” Smith Center Hospital to Carl and Laura (Williams) Nonamaker, whose Smith County farm was located 13 miles northwest of Alton.  On August 12, Stanley Evans was born to Clifford and Marcella (Mans) Roach, whose farm home was a few miles southwest of Alton.  Stan’s paternal ancestors settled in Hawkeye Township of Osborne County in 1875 and 1881.  Deanna’s maternal ancestors settled in the county’s Mount Ayr Township in 1873, 1876 and 1878 and in Bull City (today’s Alton) in 1883. Her great-grandfather, Charles E. Williams, is a member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Stan and Deanna’s childhoods were those of the typical 1950s and 1960s farm families. Milk cows, hogs, cattle, chickens and gardens guaranteed there was always food on the table and chores for the six kids in Deanna’s family and five in Stan’s to do. Dads worked in the fields and Moms ran the households, with everyone pitching in to make a go of the farms.

But there were differences.  Stan grew up breaking horses, riding motorcycles and swimming in the irrigation canal, whereas Deanna grew up scared of horses, never rode anything faster than a bicycle and never learned how to swim.  The Roach family had open ditch irrigation out of Webster Lake and Stan quickly mastered carrying an armload of siphon tubes with one hand while setting them with the other. Deanna grew up on a dryland farm and try as she might, never could get the hang of setting siphon tubes.

In later years Deanna’s uncle Bob Williams summed up her childhood like this: “You kids worked hard and you played hard.”  Left unsaid was the fact that the kids didn’t know how good they had it.

After high school graduation in 1969, Stan enrolled in farm mechanics at Beloit Vo-Tech, earning an education that put him in good stead for the farming occupation he started while still in high school. Deanna took the general secretarial course at Brown-Mackie School of Business in Salina, then worked for CPAs Kennedy and Coe in Concordia before the couple married on February 6, 1971. Their farm home east of Alton, owned by Stan’s uncle at the time, was known as the Frank Nonamaker place. Deanna’s grandfather, one of the first to visit the newlywed’s home, had helped build his cousin Frank’s big barn in 1917. (Frank’s elderly brothers also paid a visit and in later years Deanna learned it was Vernon Steerman’s beloved childhood home.)

Besides farming, Stan worked at the Osborne and Downs weekly livestock auctions for several years, plus built up an area-wide clientele for the purebred Duroc and crossbred boars that he raised. He also sold

Prairie Valley and Jacques seeds for a few years. Deanna did her part to help make ends meet by selling garden produce in the summer and picking up corn behind the combines in the fall.

In 1976, Stan and Deanna purchased the Cleve Wineinger farm in Mount Ayr Township and moved there, south of Alton, with daughters Theresa and Sherrie, who were soon joined by little sister, Rachel. All three girls had ponies and horses of their own and like their father, belonged to the Bull City Saddle Club and showed in KWHA shows.  Liberty Bell and Blazing Saddles 4-H Clubs were also a big part of their lives, plus the family enjoyed boating at Waconda Lake for a few summers. 

During this same time period Deanna held down a part-time job as DRE (Director of Religious Ed.) for 12 years at St. Aloysius Church in Osborne.  Meanwhile, Stan kept his nose to the farming grindstone, with summer help for a few years until the girls were old enough that Deanna could farm full-time with him.  Stan’s dad and three brothers all had their own separate farms nearby and the whole family joined forces for several years at wheat harvest time.

Deanna Roach. Image taken in 2007 and courtesy of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.

From high school on, farming and livestock were a big part of Stan’s life. In the 1960s, he and brothers Orvan and Randy bought a self-propelled swather and did custom swathing.   In 1977, the trio converted a dairy milking house at Randy’s farm into a hog farrowing unit and put up a 500-head finishing unit nearby.  “Roach Brothers Pork Farm” operated for several years before opting out of the hog business. Stan also had a flock of sheep and raised lambs during the 1970s. In later years he added a small herd of Longhorn cattle to his commercial beef herd. In the early 1980s he and brothers Orvan and Randy operated “Roach Bros. Truck Line,” utilizing their own semis to transport customers’ livestock to local markets and grains to Bunge in Salina and Pillsbury at Atchison.  They also trucked corn out of Nebraska to Alton Co-op, who lacked for corn during the dry years when there was no irrigation water out of Webster Lake and dryland corn was yet to come.

It’s no wonder that Deanna’s occasional trips to Civil War battlefields in the U.S. and World War II sites at Normandy Beach, Paris and Cologne were all done with her daughters. (And don’t forget the Beatle Paul concert trips!)  Stan’s fun came later on a Harley when he and other locals rode a leg of the “Run for the Wall” memorial rides from California to Washington, D.C. each May and a few times as well to Sturgis, South Dakota in August. Stan also obtained an FFL and sold firearms for several years before moving on to the period of antique tractors during his dad’s heyday of Old-Fashioned Wheat Harvests and plow days.  Today it’s classic cars, which the whole family enjoys now that Stan and Deanna are no longer farming full time.

From childhood on, family reunions and her dad’s army reunions were always a big part of Deanna’s life.  Relatives with longevity were always there to tell and retell the stories that Deanna hung onto and they soon found a “keeper” for their family history records that often went begging.  So, it was only natural for Deanna to begin writing and preserving the stories that soon led to her involvement with the annual Alton Empire newspaper, which she has been the volunteer editor of since 2005.  In fact, for a very long time now Deanna has been the primary go-to source for all historical information on Alton and much of the western half of Osborne County.  Her passion and diligence has preserved a great deal of the area’s rich heritage for future generations that would otherwise have been lost forever.   

Deanna Roach was the one-person Bull City-Alton float in the Osborne City 150th Sesquicentennial Celebration, held on May 29, 2021.

A large display of historic photographs and artifacts was designed and created by Deanna Roach for the 2021 Bull City Sesquicentennial Celebration held on August 28-29, 2021.

Stan and Deanna’s daughters, all Osborne High School and Kansas State University grads, saw the world while pursuing their own goals and dreams.  Today the two oldest are back in the Alton community and Rachel, married and living in Hays, is the mother of their two grandsons.

The 1995 Alton history book project led to Deanna’s full-time involvement in Alton PRIDE and in the ensuing years she and Stan have both helped with numerous PRIDE and other community projects. The couple was honored to be the grand marshals at the 2021 Bull City Sesquicentennial Celebration, which was held a year after the fact due to the pandemic-related cancellation of the 2020 Alton Summer Jubilee.

Grand Marshals Stan and Deanna Roach lead the 2021 Bull City Sesquicentennial Celebration Parade in downtown Alton, Kansas on August 28, 2021.

The very definition of community leadership by example.  Leading lives that have truly made a difference.  We have waited a long time for this moment. Stan and Deanna Roach, welcome to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

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Von Rothenberger, Lucas, Kansas

Alton Empire, August 19, 2021, page 1

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Shirley Irene (Spaulding) Henderson

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the winter.

And so on this date, January 6, 2022, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the fourth inductee of the OCHF Winter Class of 2021.

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Wife, mother, businesswoman, judge, community leader –all in one impressive package.  We are truly pleased to present Shirley Henderson as the newest inductee into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Story by Vicki (Henderson) McRae, daughter

Shirley Irene (Spaulding) Henderson was born on September 22, 1917, in Osborne, Kansas.  Her parents were Walter G. Spaulding and Edith Mary (Pulver) Spaulding.  Shirley was born at 208 North Elm, the home of F. H. and Josie Pulver, her mother’s parents. The little house was across the street from the Osborne Catholic Church; the house was later torn down, and is now the church’s parking lot. Shirley was the second of Walter and Edith’s two children; her older brother, Walter Dale, was born on December 6, 1915; he died in a car accident on December, 23, 1938.

Shirley grew up and lived in Osborne her entire life, with three short exceptions:

(1)  The family moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, for a short time; likely during the 1920s. Walter was a plasterer, so the move was likely related to a job there. I don’t know the dates or the specific reason, but they moved back to Osborne as soon as that job was finished.

(2)  Around 1931, the family moved to Beloit, Kansas. I don’t know exactly when or the reason for the move, but again, it was likely related to her father’s job. They were in Beloit for about four or five years; her older brother, Dale, graduated from Beloit High School in 1933; Shirley graduated from Beloit High School in 1935.

(3)  Following her graduation, the family moved back to Osborne, but Shirley went on to Denver, Colorado, to attend the Bonnie Beauty School and get her beautician’s license.  After completing school in Denver, she moved back to Osborne. For a time, she worked in the Grayce Beauty Shop. Then in November of 1941, she and Vina Chandler took over the Deluxe Beauty Shop and they continued working together many years.

Shirley at beauty school. Image taken circa 1937.

After her marriage to Arthur (Art) M. Henderson on April 17, 1942, she retired from the beauty shop and became a homemaker.  However, she kept her beautician license up to date and continued to help out with the shop’s bookkeeping and filling in occasionally as needed. She and Vina Chandler remained close friends and traded haircuts and permanents for over thirty years.  Shirley and Art had two children: (1) Michael Ray, born 1945, died at birth; and (2) Vicki Lee, born 1948, still survives.

After Art died in 1972, Shirley went back to work. Although her beautician’s license was current, she was concerned about having to stand on her feet all day, so she went to work as secretary in the Osborne County Probate Judge’s office. When County Probate Judge Ethel McCammon retired in December 1974, Shirley was appointed to fill the position for the remaining term. At the next election, she was duly elected; she filled the County Probate Judge position until the State reorganized the judicial system in 1987 and discontinued the position. At that time, after attending “Judge’s School” and passing the modified bar exam, she became District Magistrate Judge. She held the office of County/District Magistrate Judge for a total of 13 years, retiring in 1987 just before her 70th birthday. 

After retirement Shirley continued an active life with friends, enjoyed pursuing her art and craft hobbies, and taking occasional trips to Texas to visit her daughter.  Shirley passed away at Osborne on Friday, October 27, 2000, at age 83, and was laid to rest beside her husband in the Osborne Cemetery.


Throughout her life, Shirley had a talent and interest in all things art and crafts. Even as a grade school student, she was an excellent artist, painting many fine pictures. She enjoyed taking art classes when available nearby, and she liked trying many different technics. Her interests broadened to include sewing, knitting, crochet, and many other crafts. For several years she was a Brownie Scout and Girl Scout leader, and she taught knitting and crochet to groups of Girl Scouts and 4-H girls. She also gave programs and provided craft projects for the Brownie Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H groups, Vacation Bible School, and various ladies’ organizations. For many years she helped with the art booth at the Osborne County Fair.


Around 1980, Shirley became interested in woodcrafts, doing woodcarving, wood burning, and making assorted wood pictures and figures. She often painted or stained her wood crafts to accent the designs. She had a craft booth at several of the nearby craft shows for many years; usually a couple friends would go along to help out. Shirley was pleased that people enjoyed her crafts and that her works were in many states across the USA and several foreign countries.


Art and Shirley were members of the Osborne Golf Club for many years during the 1950s and 60s. Shirley often played golf with friends and the ladies golf group; she won several trophies at ladies’ tournaments around the area.

The Osborne Girls” at Shirley’s house in Osborne, Kansas on New Year’s Eve 1992.  From Left to Right: Shirley (Spaulding) Henderson, Beloit High School graduate, 1935; Mildred (Hays) Allen, Osborne High School graduate, 1927; Marguerite (McCormick) Lawton, Osborne High School graduate, 1935; Martha (Cady) Scrima, Osborne High School graduate, 1934; and Bernadine McCormick, Osborne High School graduate, 1930.

Shirley’s tombstone in the Osborne Cemetery, Osborne, Kansas.

*  *  *  *  *


Vickie (Henderson) McRae, San Antonio, Texas

*  *  *  *  *

Jan Renee (Saylor) Lamb Hartman

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the winter.

And so on this date, January 5, 2022, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the third inductee of the OCHF Winter Class of 2021.

*  *  *  *  *

Jan Renee Saylor was born on August 30, 1955 in Concordia, Cloud County, Kansas.  She was the second of seven children born to Robert “Bob” and Serena (Carlin) Saylor and grew up on the family farm in Tilden Township, Osborne County, Kansas, where she helped to work the fields and in the annual custom harvest with her dad and granddad, and even learned at a young age to irrigate and how to set the irrigation pipes.  Jan graduated from Osborne High School in the class of 1973.

Jan graduated from Marymount College of Salina, Kansas in 1977, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work and her Bachelor of Arts degree in History.  Also in 1977 she began her law enforcement experience beginning in 1977 as a police officer on single patrol in Salina at age 22, after two weeks of riding with a training officer.  Following eight months on patrol, Jan was sent to the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchison for their five-week training.  Highlights during her three and half years with the Salina Police Department included locating an arresting murder suspects from Minnesota and stopping a robbery in progress with an arrest. 

On June 6, 1981, Jan married Jim Lamb in Salina, Kansas.  She later married Richard Hartman.

Jan was hired in June 1981 by the Kansas Highway Patrol as the first female Kansas State Trooper.  She spent her first 6 weeks in training at the old Schelling Air Force Base in Salina, where the Kansas Highway Patrol Training Academy was then located. Jan spent 30 days with her training officer, then she  returned for another seven weeks of training back at the KHP Training Center. She was initially assigned to Winfield, Kansas and later transferred to Wichita. All troopers were assigned their own car and patrolled alone. It was an interesting time, as the KHP began adjusting to the notion of female troopers. Emphasis was on DUI arrests along with traffic violations, truck inspections, and service renders. The KHP was also responsible for VIN inspections and later interdictions. 

*  *  *  *  *

  • The Salina Journal
  • Salina, Kansas
  • Sunday, November 1, 1981, Page 33
  • By BEN WEARING Staff Writer


It takes work and determination to become a member of the Kansas Highway Patrol, but the first female recruits are more than willing to pay the price because they want to be Troopers.  They are just two more of Kansas’ Finest.  And yet there is a big difference with these Kansas Highway Patrol troopers.  

When Jan Saylor-Lamb and Suzanne Van Sickle graduated Saturday from the Kansas Highway Patrol’s Training Center on the former Schilling Air Base, they had accomplished what no other women have.

The women realize the distinction makes them special, and both feel the pressure of being the first female Kansas troopers. But they also know their gender won’t count when it comes to acceptance by their male peers, or in the performance of their duties. 

“I think it’s just going to take some time until they (other troopers) decide: Yes, these two troopers are dependable, and yes, they will back us up,” said Van Sickle, 30, of Howard. “I would think they would have the same feeling about any recruit.”

And, says Saylor-Lamb, there is another problem — women troopers don’t have mentors.  “We don’t have any role models, and what we do and how we react to certain things will become policy,” said Savior-Lamb, 26, now of Osborne and a veteran of 3½ years on the Salina police force. “If we do poorly, I imagine they will think twice about hiring more women.”

Like Van Sickle, acceptance by her fellow troopers is important to Saylor- Lamb.  “I’d like to do my best. I’d like to have my co-workers feel they can trust me and treat me like a fellow trooper,” she said.  Sporting identical black eyes obtained during a defense tactics class near the end of the training program, the women explained their interest in law enforcement and how they arrived at the KHP.

Their Background

Saylor-Lamb was a student at Marymount College when she began an internship with the Salina Police Department.  She saw police work as a challenge.  “I decided there was probably a good deal more to it than people probably perceived, and decided that was what I really wanted,” she said.  “You have to have a working knowledge of laws. To be a good police officer, I believe you have to have a good working relationship with people.  “There’s such a variety of things that you have to be a jack-of-all-trades, and be good at all of them. There’s just a lot of strong points in your personality you have to have to be successful.”

While Saylor-Lamb jumped directly from college into law enforcement, Van Sickle already had a career — as a state auditor and accountant for the Office of Emergency Preparedness.  Her job required her to work with law officers, and she thought their jobs were “interesting and challenging.”  Some of the troopers she met encouraged her to apply, “and I did, and here I am.”  Saylor-Lamb saw the Highway Patrol as a step up. “I wanted to progress,” she said. “I didn’t want to stay stagnant. It (the Patrol) still is considered probably the elite group of Kansas law enforcement.”

That was the same reason Marvin Johnson, 37, Lindsborg, wanted to become a state trooper. For Johnson, who has the distinction of being the eldest beginning trooper, it was “another step” in his education. “I taught government (at Lindsborg High School), and it seemed like theory was fine.  But actually, getting out and doing it might be another thing,” he said.

Both Van Sickle and Saylor-Lamb received encouragement from their families. But Saylor-Lamb also finds herself in another unique position. She and her husband of four months, Trooper James Lamb, will thus become the first husband-wife trooper combination in Kansas.  Lamb was a trooper in Salina for six years. He’s now stationed in Wichita.  

But for Van Sickle, the acceptance by the family wasn’t immediately forthcoming.  “Of course, they were shocked at first,” she said. “And at first, they thought I was just kidding. They laughed a lot.”  When they finally decided she was serious, the laughter stopped.  “My immediate family was very supportive,” she said.

Stiff competition Lt. Bill Persinger, KHP Safety and Training Officer, noted the competition is stiff. There are only 20 positions open to the more than 500 persons who apply each year. The first six weeks of training cover the basics — such as learning rules and regulations, driving a car and firing a weapon, Persinger said. 

Recruits spend the next 45 days riding with a trooper.  During the final seven weeks of advanced training, the recruits learn such things as investigating accidents or crimes and taking fingerprints.  Upon graduation, they’ll have accumulated 646 hours of classroom training.  And in the first year, Persinger said, the Patrol will have $35,000 invested in each trooper — including car and salary.

He said the Patrol first began getting inquiries from women in the late 1960s.  But a rush of applications began about 1976.  He was at a loss, however to explain why none was accepted before now.  “I guess the only reason these two girls made it was because they had a good attitude and all the determination,” he said. “We set our standards high and set our requirements to match those standards, and I don’t think we’ve lowered our standards one bit in hiring these female troopers.”

The training was tough, but Johnson echoes the other members of the class in contending the women weren’t given any quarter. And he says it won’t bother him if a fellow trooper is a woman when his life is on the line.  Because much of their time is spent on the highways, troopers normally don’t encounter the number of drunks or burglars, or find themselves confronted with some of the domestic disputes common to city police officers, Persinger said.  Still, it’s not a safe job. And these are not large women. Saylor-Lamb is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds; Van Sickle 5 feet, 6 inches and 115.

“We have a disadvantage in size, but it’s not a disadvantage you can’t work out or overcome,” Saylor-Lamb said.  “I think if a person knows how to handle themselves, you’re not going to get in that situation where it (danger) will happen.  “But if it happens, it happens. You try to keep yourself under control.”

Van Sickle agrees.  “You can’t help but think about it,” she said, “but you don’t worry about it. It’s part of the job, I guess. You know that when you come in.  So you’ve accepted it, or you wouldn’t be here.”

*  *  *  *  *

Kansas Highway Patrol recruit photograph
In Kansas Highway Patrol dress uniform
Taken from the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of November 1, 1981.

Jan graduated from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas in 1984 with a Masters of Arts, Administration of Justice.  In February 1990 she was hired as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Jan reported to Quantico, Virginia for fourteen weeks of training, after which she was assigned to her first field office in St. Louis, Missouri. Jan spent six months on the Applicant Squad then reassigned to the Violent Crime Squad, where she worked bank robberies, kidnappings, extortions and other federal violent crimes. Jan was the designated Crimes Against Children Coordinator and responsible for investigating crimes involving children such as kidnapping, human sex trafficking, and internet sexual exploitation of children.  9/11 occurred when Jan was an Agent in St. Louis. She also spent time as the Applicant Coordinator where she recruited and processed all agent, support, and linguist applications.

Jan was then promoted to a Supervisory Special Agent in the Cyber Division out of FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. where she managed the criminal and national security cyber intrusion programs, overseeing the various cyber intrusion investigations throughout the 56 FBI field offices.  This required a Top Secret/SCI Clearance with a Polygraph.  In 2009, Jan transferred to the Kansas City Division as the Supervisory Special Agent for the Cyber Crimes Task Force. Here she managed a team of Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, and Task Force Officers in investigations involving criminal, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence computer intrusions, internet exploitation of children, and intellectual property rights.

After retiring from the FBI in 2012, and a stint as an at-home-mom and substitute teacher for the Park Hill School District, Jan was hired in 2014 by the State of Missouri, Health and Senior Services, to investigate reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors and the disabled in the Kansas City, Missouri.  She spent a year with the State of Missouri until she was hired in July 2015 as the Report Investigator of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. In her role as investigator, her primary role is to investigate allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse involving minors and/or vulnerable adults by clergy, Archdiocesan employees (including Catholic school employees), and volunteers. [Note: Sexual abuse also includes possession, manufacture or distribution of child pornography.]

Jan also investigates the sexual misconduct with or around a minor or vulnerable adult which does not rise to the level of sexual abuse but would constitute a violation of the safety guidelines put forth by the Archdiocese’s safe environment policies and procedures when working with minors and/or vulnerable adults. [Boundary Violation:  Any inappropriate behavior by clergy, an employee, or volunteer that does not rise to the level of sexual abuse but violates the rules of conduct put forth by the Archdiocese’s safe environment policies.]

In addition, at the request of the Archbishop (AB) or Vicar for Clergy, Jan investigates reports concerning allegations of sexual misconduct by a member of the clergy with a non-minor.

Jan continues to live and work in Kansas City.  The Osborne County Hall of Fame is humbled to acknowledge the path that she has blazed with a place of honor in the Hall’s Winter 2021 Class.

*  *  *  *  *

  • The Leaven
  • The official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas
  • November 1, 2018
  • by Joe Bollig and Olivia Martin

Former FBI agent independently investigates allegations of abuse for the archdiocese

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The initial report of abuse in the church could come from many sources: a concerned teacher or coach, a parent, a pastor or even the victim.  Regardless of the source, however, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas’ response begins with Jan Saylor, report investigator for the archdiocesan office of child and youth protection (OCYP).

Plying her hard-earned skills on behalf of the church since 2015, Saylor is no stranger to investigations.  She has 35 years of experience in law enforcement as a city police officer, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper and a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“When I was an FBI agent in St. Louis,” said Saylor, “I was designated the Crimes Against Children coordinator, so I worked many different cases that involved children — including kidnapping, murder, sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.”  Additionally, Saylor oversaw investigations involving the internet exploitation of children while the supervisor of the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force in the Kansas City field office for over three years.

The investigation procedure

“[My] duty is to investigate allegations of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by employees, priests, clergy, volunteers or anybody who works for the archdiocese,” said Saylor.  This includes suspicions of abuse, inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct. “Anytime I get a phone call, even if it’s not an allegation of abuse, I record it, and it will always be documented for future reference,” said Saylor.

“There are protocols that we follow,” she continued. “If I receive an allegation of abuse directly, I notify Father Riley, the OCYP director, and then ensure the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and law enforcement are notified as required by law. Typically, DCF contacts law enforcement, but we have done both.”

Saylor begins her investigation with whoever made the initial report. She interviews the reporting party and/or victim, as well as the person who has been accused.  Once her investigation is complete, Saylor gives the case file to Father Riley, who facilitates the convening of the Independent Review Board. The board is an independent body of persons appointed by the archbishop that reviews policies and procedures, reviews allegations of sexual abuse sexual abuse of school children and vulnerable adults, and consults with the archbishop.  After the board reviews and discusses the case file, it makes recommendations regarding the outcome of the investigation and any further action which may be taken by the archdiocese to the archbishop.  “If an allegation is proved true, believed to be true or, if after our investigation we believe the allegation to be credible or substantiated, the individual against whom the allegation was made is permanently removed from his or her position or ministry within the church,” said Father Riley.  “The most important thing is to protect the child,” said Saylor. “Everyone is given the presumption of innocence, but the church always puts the welfare of the child first.”

Independent investigation

While abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult is a crime, not all misconduct is criminal.  In some cases, persons are accused of violating archdiocesan safe practice measures or canon law, but not civil law.  “If it’s not criminal, law enforcement wouldn’t be involved,” said Saylor.  Saylor is limited in the sense that she does not have law enforcement powers. She cannot subpoena records or gain access to police reports (unless the person involved gives it to her), or force people to talk to her. But she is free to use public information.

“For example, let’s say I learned a suspect had been allegedly investigated for sexual abuse 10 years ago at a public school,” said Saylor. “I can’t go to that school and say, ‘Give me the records of that person,’ and I can’t go to the local police department and ask for the report,” she continued. “They wouldn’t give it to me unless I got permission from the victim.  But because of my experience, I can put together at least an understanding of credibility to an allegation and get the information that either substantiates it or not.”  She also cooperates with law enforcement authorities as their investigation allows.

A transparent system

“An important part for us, too, is to show transparency,” said Saylor.  “That’s part of the problem,” she added, “that people believe the church is sweeping things under the rug.  I don’t know that the current crisis could have been avoided, but I do know that, since I’ve been here, I have great confidence in Archbishop [Joseph F. Naumann] in his adherence to the zero tolerance for abuse of children.” 

Saylor further emphasized the importance of not hesitating to contact her with allegations, suspicions or questions.  “It doesn’t mean we will have to investigate, but if people have questions and see something they think could be considered grooming or signs of abuse, they can always call me,” she said.  “They will be heard.  It will be addressed and documented.  Protocols will be followed.  I want people to know that whether they report online, through the confidential report line or other means, their allegations will end up with me — someone who is independent, trained to take information and investigate it objectively, and has the requisite skills and experience to do so.  Because that’s what I’ve done for 35 years.”

*  *  *  *  *


Jan Hartman, Kansas City, Missouri

Kelli Schmidt, Smith Center, Kansas

Osborne County Farmer, June 25, 1981; November 5, 1981; October 17, 1983

Salina Journal, November 1, 1981

The Leaven, November 1, 2018

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Robert Van “Bob” Elliott – 2021 Winter Inductee

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the winter.

And so on this date, January 4, 2022, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the second inductee of the OCHF Winter Class of 2021.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert “Bob” Van Elliott was born May 8, 1949, in Osborne, Kansas.  He was the son of Ray and Margaret Marie (Post) Elliott.  Bob Elliott grew up on a farm just outside of Osborne.  He was a National Merit Scholar, Student Council President, member of the mixed chorus, 3-year member of both the school band and dance band, and a 3-year letterman in football, basketball, and track at Osborne High School, from where he graduated in 1967 as class valedictorian.  Bob went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree as he graduated in the top 5 percent of his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.  He later earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California. 

Bob Elliott’s 1967 high school senior photo.

Bob served his country for 30 years in the United States Army, and retired as a Colonel of the U.S. Army Special Forces, colloquially known as the Green Berets.  While in the army, he served as Deputy Commander of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group, as Commander of the 4th Special Operations Support Command (Theater Army) (Airborne), and served on diplomatic assignments at the U.S. Embassies in Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, Korea.  Throughout his career in the United States Army, he received numerous awards in recognition of his outstanding achievements and leadership, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, NATO Medal, Korean Order of National Security Merit Samil Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, SCUBA Diver’s Badge, and various other awards and decorations.

Colonel Robert Elliott and his uniform, U.S. Army Special Forces – The Green Berets

After retiring from the Army, Bob joined General Electric Company and served in a variety of positions with various GE affiliates in the company’s nuclear energy and Homeland Protection businesses. He subsequently served as a program manager for Westinghouse Electric Company in the company’s nuclear energy business.

Bob was first elected to the San Joaquin County (California) Board of Supervisors on November 6, 2012, and was sworn in on January 7, 2013. He was re-elected in 2016 and is currently serving his second term. He represents the Fifth Supervisorial District, which covers portions of south San Joaquin County, including Tracy, Mountain House, half of Manteca, a portion of Lathrop, and associated unincorporated areas. Prior to his service on the Board of Supervisors, Bob served on the Tracy City Council from December 2010 until December 2012.  Bob’s priorities as Supervisor, 5th District, are to enhance public safety, promote economic development to improve the local economy and bring family wage jobs to the county, protect the agricultural industry, and ensure fiscal responsibility in County financial affairs.

Bob is currently a resident of Tracy, California and is active in the community. He serves as a board member of Give Every Child A Chance, and is a past president of the Tracy Sister City Association and as well as a past Board Chairman of the Tracy Hospital Foundation. He is also a member of American Legion Post 172, VFW Post #1537, the Tracy Breakfast Lions Club, the Tracy Rotary Club, Tracy Elks Lodge No. 2031, the West Side Pioneer Association, and the Chambers of Commerce in Tracy and Manteca.  Bob ran third in the Republican primary for the 10th U.S. Congressional District in March 2020.  He and his wife Debbie have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

Colonel Elliott and his family on the day of his retirement from the military

Bob Elliott giving a speech in 2020

For both his distinguished military career and his continued public service, it is with distinct pride that the Osborne County Hall of Fame welcomes Robert Van “Bob” Elliott into the Hall as a member of the Winter 2021 Class.

*  *  *  *  *


Natoma-Luray Independent, March 2, 1967, page 1

Osborne County Farmer, June 1, 1967, page 1

*  *  *  *  *

Betty Jo (Day) Banks – Winter 2021 Inductee

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the winter.

And so on this date, January 3, 2022, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the first inductee of the OCHF Winter Class of 2021.

*  *  *  *  *

Betty Jo Day was born February 26, 1933 in Washington, Kansas to Everett E. & Louisa (Durst) Day.  She attended and graduated high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado before attending the University of Colorado with plans to study criminal law.  Plans were changed when Dale A. Banks gave her a wink! They were married at the Rose Valley Methodist Church northwest of Downs, Kansas on December 2, 1951.  Betty Jo stayed busy raising three daughters, as well as helping start Kindergarten classes in Downs, working as a Stanley Home Products representative and working with the county extension helping teach young housewives homemaking skills.  She then became Activities Director at Mid America Nursing Home in Downs. Betty Jo continued to study and received her Nursing Home Administrator’s license.  She began as administrator at Parkview Care Center in Osborne, Kansas, a job that she held for over 30 years, until her retirement in 2012.

Betty Jo was a member of the Downs United Methodist Church where she served as lay leader, choir director and Sunday School teacher. She was also involved with the Miss Solomon Valley Beauty Pageant as well as Kansas Junior Miss – not only helping different young ladies in aspirations to be the Kansas Junior Miss, but some years also judging the event.  She was also active in the Downs Lions Club as well as their District and State programs.  Betty Jo was also a member of the VFW Auxiliary in Osborne.

Betty Jo’s love of God and music led her to lead several singing groups: The Highlighters, The Challengers, and for 30 years the director of the North Central Christian Choir, which featured singers from all across North Central Kansas.  She had a love for music but it took second place to the love of her life—her husband, Dale. They had many good years together and many memories of the dances they went to as well as the other couples that attended also. Her three daughters – Rebecca (Bekki), Joyce (Pearl), and Dalene (Bugs) – brought her much joy in life, but certainly kept her on her toes!

Declining health placed her in the Downs Nursing Home in January 2020 so she could be closer for Dalene to visit. She was able to continue to touch lives of several she had mentored through the years.  Betty Jo passed away at the age of 87 on Saturday, May 30, 2020, at the Downs Care and Rehab facility in Downs.  She was laid to rest beside her husband in the Downs Cemetery.

Her compassion for others will always be remembered and never equaled. Welcome, Betty Jo, to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

*  *  *  *  *


Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas, May 30, 2020

Stockton Sentinel, Stockon, Kansas, June 4, 2020

*  *  *  *  *

Clarice Grace Towner – Spring 2021 Inductee

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

And so on this date, May 13, 2021, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the ninth – and last – inductee of the OCHF Spring Class of 2021.

Clarice Grace Towner was the daughter of Homer Z. and Eveline (White) Towner.  Grace’s birth on September 11, 1883 in Delphos, Kansas, was duly noted in the local newspaper:

“Mr. and Mrs. Homer Towner will please accept the congratulations their numerous friends over the safe arrival of their infant daughter.” – Delphos Carrier, Delphos, Kansas, September 21, 1883.

By 1891 Grace’s parents had moved to Osborne, Osborne County, Kansas.  There Grace attended the primary schools and graduated from Osborne High School in 1902.  She taught at least one year in the rural Mount Hope School, District #6, near Osborne in 1904-1905 before enrolling in Washburn College, at Topeka, Kansas, where she graduated with a B.A. degree in 1909. She taught a summer term in the Eureka, Kansas school system before heading to Alton, Kansas, in August 1909 to take over the assistant principal position at Alton High School.  Just a month later Grace was appointed the Alton High School principal upon the sudden resignation of the previous principal.  

In September 1911 Grace left for Chicago, Illinois to enter the Congregational Training School for Women, from which she graduated in may 1912.  The following August she received her appointment to the mission board at Adana, Turkey to teach there in the mission school that served the Armenian Christian population in the city.  This was the start of Grace’s career as a missionary teacher in the Near East Congregational Mission (1912-1951) under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Her forty years as a missionary occurred at (1) Adana Girls’ High School, 1912-1932; (2) Tarsus Amerikan College, 1933-1945; and (3) Uskudar American Academy for Girls, Istanbul, 1946-1951.

Grace started as the playground director at the Girls’ School in Adana and slowly worked her way up the educational ladder.  For the first five years she saw the school grow in numbers and scholastic standing.  And then came World War I and the reality of America and Turkey being on opposing sides.

*  *  *  *  *

“Miss Grace Towner of Osborne, who has been engaged in the mission field at Adana, Turkey, the last four years, has been heard from through the mission board of the Congregational church. She has left Turkey and is likely on her way to Switzerland, according to reports, which are indefinite and unsatisfactory owing to war conditions in Europe, censoring of letters making it almost impossible to obtain news from people over there in whom Americans are interested.” – Osborne County Farmer, Osborne, Kansas, July 19, 1917.

*  *  *  *  *

“Word was also received from Miss Grace Towner, a missionary in Turkey. The schools have been closed and the building used as a hospital and Miss Grace is a nurse now.” – Minneapolis Better Way, Minneapolis, Kansas, May 23, 1918.

*  *  *  *  *

Word From Miss Grace Towner.

“The Wm. Wales family have heard from Miss Grace Towner. Miss Towner was a missionary in Turkey when the war broke out and all communication with her was cut off. This is the first direct word from her in a little over two years. She was heard from indirectly a year ago last July. She had written to a friend in Switzerland and the latter in turn wrote the Osborne relatives. Miss Towner says she is well and all right, but that the suffering there is terrible. The Armenian refugees are coming in there in a starving condition and things beggar description. She is at Adana, Turkey. She will start for home in April. Miss Towner is a niece of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Wales, a graduate of the Osborne high school and has been in Turkey about seven years.” – Osborne County Farmer, Osborne, Kansas, February 20, 1919.

*  *  *  *  *

Miss Towner Has Sailed.

“The William Wales family last week received a letter from Miss Grace Towner stating that she had sailed for the United States. The letter was written from Port Said, Egypt, under date of May 5th. She left Turkey the first of May and is going by way of the Mediterranean and will land in England and come from there to New York. It is not likely she will reach this country before the first of July. She stated in her letter that traveling was very slow over her route. She will come from New York direct to Osborne.” – Osborne County Farmer, Osborne, Kansas, June 12, 1919.

*  *  *  *  *

“A reception was given Tuesday in the Congregational chapel in honor of Miss Grace Towner, who has been engaged in mission work in Turkey for the past seven years and who returned to Osborne some days ago, having been granted a furlough of a year by the mission board. About a hundred of Miss Towner’s friends were present. She gave a most interesting talk on her work and experiences in Turkey. A social hour followed, during which a number of musical selections were given and refreshments were served.” – Osborne County Farmer, Osborne, Kansas, August 28, 1919.

*  *  *  *  *

Upon her return to the United States Grace secured a teaching position in the Woodston, Kansas school system.  She taught there for two years while she awaited word on being able to return to Turkey.

*  *  *  *  *

Returns to Mission Field.

“Miss Grace Towner, who completed her school term at Woodston two weeks ago, and has since been with homefolks, Mrs. Wm. Wales and Mrs. S. B. Young of Penn township, left Saturday evening for Niles to spend a few days with her sister before starting on her long journey overseas to the mission field in Turkey, where she served before and during part of the World War. She sails from New York about the 22d of this month and will be stationed at Adana, Turkey, for the nest seven years under the auspices of the Congregational church. Adana is a city of about 100,000 population.” – Osborne County Farmer, Osborne, Kansas, June 9, 1921.

*  *  *  *  *

Grace did return to Adana, but continued unrest in Turkey led to more troubles for her and her school:


Governor Allen Will Aid in Search for Miss Grace Towner.

“Governor Allen will aid in trying to locate Miss Grace Towner, a Congregational missionary, who has apparently disappeared in Armenia. Letters which have been sent to Miss Towner, a former high school teacher in Woodston, Osborne County, have been returned. Miss Towner is well known in Osborne County. Several years ago she went to Armenia as a missionary teacher. Recently the French evacuated the district in which Miss Towner was located and forty thousand Armenians fled. Miss Towner wrote to friends and relatives in Kansas regarding abandonment of the school. Since that time letters which have been addressed to her have been returned with notation that postal service was interrupted and mail could not be delivered. Governor Allen will try to locate the young woman thru federal departments in Washington.” – Topeka State Journal, Topeka, Kansas, March 10, 1922.

*  *  *  *  *


Kansas Missionary Teacher Flees Before Turks, But Not to Desert.

“Miss Grace Towner. Kansas missionary girl and teacher, has met with no mishap in Asia Minor, Turkey, but most of her girl students were forced to flee from Adana recently in advance of the terrible Turks, according to Mrs. May L. Flickinger, 1326 Lane Street, state secretary of the Woman’s Board of Missions of the Congregational Church, under whose support and direction Miss Towner is serving the cause of the Armenians.

Mrs. Klickinger is in receipt of letters from Mrs. Lucius O. Lee of Chicago, foreign secretary of the women’s Board of Missions of the Interior, who says the reports sent out in February to the effect that Miss Towner and 200 of her girls had been driven upon the desert, were not true, as regards Miss Towner. Mrs. Lee, who is in daily communication with the foreign work by cable, has given the information to Mrs. Flickinger for the benefit of the Kansas board, and also to Mrs. G. E. Denio, of Niles, a sister of Miss Towner.

According to this information, Mrs. Flickinger says the entire Armenian population of Adana, amounting to about 40,000, did forsake the city in advance of the Turks several weeks ago, including more than 200 girls in Miss Towner’s school. The Turks did not. however, molest Miss Towner in any way and she still has about twenty girls of other nationalities in her school. Instead of being forced upon a desert, Mrs. Flickinger says the Armenian refugees were allowed to scatter to six different centers, but on account of having no work their situation is desperate. The Armenians were forced to leave when the French evacuated the town, allowing it to fall in the hands of the Turks.

Miss Towner has been doing missionary work and supported by the Kansas Congregational Woman’s board for several years. She was recently in Kansas on a year’s furlough, which she spent at her home at Woodston, but returned to Turkey last August.” – Topeka State Journal, Topeka, Kansas, March 18, 1922.

*  *  *  *  *


Miss Grace Towner

“An outstanding American missionary was somewhat impatiently cooling his heels in the outer office of prominent Turkish official in Adana, Turkey. Time passed and an audience seemed no nearer than it had at the start. Casually the name of Miss Grace Towner was uttered. A miraculous change took place. ‘Are you a friend of Miss Towner?’ demanded the guard of the inner portals. Almost instantly the waiting missionary was whisked into the presence of the man he wished to see.

For 17 years Grace Towner, daughter of the Kansas plains, has been at the helm of the Adana Girl’s School, through the war and the greatest exchange of populations known to history. She has seen the school, which at first ministered principally to Armenian girls, closed by war and reassemble, and then almost overnight become decimated – but she never gave up. In 1917-18 the Turkish Government took over the buildings while Miss Towner and her associate teachers gave private lessons until 1919.  Then returning to America Miss Towner for two years studied and taught, waiting for a chance to go back. This came in 1922 when she returned to Adana and threw herself once more into the work of building up the school. She found the Turkish people after four or five years without educational opportunities, eager to have the institution reopened – so eager, indeed, that the girls furnished their own beds, bedding and eating utensils.

Miss Towner will be here at the Congregational church Friday night at 8 o’clock, and will tell us something of the work she has been doing conditions there and the progress being made in this larger field of the church. Miss Towner is being accompanied by Rev. Ludwig Thomsen of Osborne and is representing the larger work of the churches in the homeland. Mr. Thomsen is one of the strong men mentally and spiritually, of the state, and will be well worth hearing.” – Lenora News, Lenora, Kansas, April 24, 1929.

*  *  *  *  *

Turkish Courts to Rule on Alleged Insult by Teacher

“Adana, Turkey (AP)—Within the next few days the Turkish courts are expected to hand down a decision in the case of Grace Towner of Boston, director of the American Girls school here, who is charged with insulting the Turkish Nationalist government.

Miss Towner was accused of the offense after several students at the school protested that they had been forced to wear red, white and blue uniforms and that the American teachers were carrying on a campaign of ‘Christian propaganda.’

The directress replied that red, white and blue uniforms were chosen after a student competition for suggestions which was held at the school and that the complaint against her was made by students who suggested other designs and failed to win the contest which, she said, was decided by the students themselves.

During the last of two hearings on Miss Towner’s case the Turkish judge congratulated students who spoke in Miss Towner’s defense for the clearness and logic of their testimony. A prominent Turkish lawyer, whose daughter was a student at the American school, volunteered to defend the American teacher, and the Turkish government’s educational inspector at Adana went to the school personally and upbraided the students who opposed Miss Towner. The Turkish government did not close the school.

American educational circles here believe that Miss Towner will be acquitted. If convicted she would be subject to both fine and imprisonment under the Turkish law.” – Post-Crescent, Appleton, Wisconsin, April 4, 1931.

*  *  *  *  *

Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts,
April 11, 1931, page 9.

*  *  *  *  *

In 1932 the decision was made to close the Adana school.  After 21 years Grace was transferred to Tarsus in 1933 and taught in the Amerikan College there until 1945.  At Tarsus, it was said, “a lift of her eyebrow and a glance over her glasses silenced the most disruptive class of boys.”  In the summer of 1945 Grace took a brief furlough to make a visit back to the United States.

*  *  *  *  *

Mission Trio Saved from Lifeboats

“BOSTON (AP)—Three Congregational missionary teachers enroute to the United States from Turkey were forced to take refuge in Athens, Greece, when the boat on which they were traveling hit a mine, caught fire and was put out of commission. The incident was reported in a cablegram received here by the American Board of Foreign Missions (Congregational). The three missionaries were Miss Edith L. Douglass, sister of Mrs. J. W. McKay of Shreveport, La.; Miss C. Grace Towner, sister of Mrs. George Denio of Eureka, Kan., and Mrs. Cyril H. Haas, sister of Mrs. Robert D. Cox of Hemingway, S. C. They and other passengers took to lifeboats and were picked up, unharmed, many hours later.” – Burlington Daily News, Burlington, Vermont, July 23, 1945.

*  *  *  *  *

In 1946 Grace was sent to the American Academy for Girls in Uskudar, where, as in Tarsus, she was associate principal and taught English and English literature.  In 1951 Grace expressed her wish to retire, which was granted.  After visiting relatives in Kansas, Grace settled down in 1952 at Pilgrim Place, a retirement home for missionaries of the Congregational Church located in Claremont, California.  She spent her remaining years giving lectures on her time as a missionary and educating audiences on the country of Turkey and its people.  

*  *  *  *  *


“Firsthand Information about Turkey will be offered by Miss Grace Towner, recently returned from 40 years of teaching in that country, for the International Relations Section, Pomona Valley Chapter, American Association of University Women, at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in Abernathy Hall, Pilgrim Place, Claremont. The talk is open to the public. Miss Towner taught in a girls’ school for 20 years and then in Tarsus College, located in Tarsus, birthplace of St. Paul. A lot of her students were Mohammedans. The speaker notes that she has witnessed the Turkish womens’ transition from veiled figures in the background to today’s cultured women who take their places in community affairs with dignity and skill. The rapid changes which have been made in Turkey under the present regime will form the basis for her talk. A question-and-answer period will follow the speech, according to Miss Etta Agee, chairman.” – Pomona Progress Bulletin, Pomona, California, November 5, 1953.

*  *  *  *  *

After a lifetime of service and sacrifice Clarice Grace Towner quietly passed away on August 28, 1968 at Claremont, California, where she was laid to rest in Oak Park Cemetery.  The Osborne County Hall of Fame is privileged to welcome Grace into the Hall and so honor her memory. 

*  *  *  *  *


  • Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts – April 11, 1931, page 9.
  • Burlington Daily News, Burlington, Vermont – July 23, 1945, page 6.
  • Delphos Carrier, Delphos, Kansas, September 21, 1883, page 3.
  • Downs Times, Downs, Kansas – September 21, 1911, page 3.
  • The Journal Times, Racine, Wisconsin – April 20, 1938, page 4.
  • Lenora News, Lenora, Kansas – April 24, 1929, page 2.
  • Lincoln Star, Lincoln, Nebraska – April 24, 1938, page 25.
  • Manhattan Mercury, Manhattan, Kansas – November 10, 1928, page 1; April 4, 1931, page 1.
  • Minneapolis Messenger, Minneapolis, Kansas – May 23, 1918, page 3; March 16, 1922, page 1.
  • Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California – April 8, 1931, page 21.
  • Olpe Optimist, Olpe, Kansas – March 8, 1922, page 10.
  • Osborne County News, Osborne, Kansas – August 12, 1909, page 5; May 20, 1912, page 3.
  • Towner, Grace. Passport Applications Roll 0233 Certificate 399, 1912.
  • Towner, Grace. Passport Applications Roll 0233 Certificate 48857, 23 January 1915-28 January 1915.
  • Towner, Grace. Passport Applications Certificate 85517, August 1920.
  • Personnel card for C. Grace Towner an employee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

George Edward Rody – Spring 2021 Inductee

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

And so on this date, May 12, 2021, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the eighth inductee of the OCHF Spring Class of 2021.

George Edward Rody was born on October 7, 1899, in Atchison, Atchison County, Kansas.  The local Atchison paper noted his arrival:

The son of railroad engineer / conductor Henry Rody and Mary (Richey) Rody, George moved with his family when he was a year old to Downs, Osborne County, Kansas.  He grew up in Downs and excelled in sports and in theater, graduating from Downs High School in May 1917. 

George enrolled the following fall in Wentworth Military Academy at Lexington, Missouri, where he served as a Second Lieutenant in Company B.  George lettered in baseball and basketball, leading the basketball team to a 9-4 record and a conference championship, and graduated from the Academy in May 1918.  He then accepted a position teaching military science at the Academy, which he took up after attending a summer course at the State Normal School in Emporia, Kansas.  George resigned from the Academy in November 1918 in anticipation of being called to military service in World War I.  However, the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, and so ended those plans.  

George Rody’s World War II Draft Registration Card.

George enrolled in the University of Kansas in January 1919. As a pitcher on the baseball nine, he helped the team to Missouri Valley Conference championships in both 1921 and 1922.  As a senior forward and basketball team captain in 1921-1922, Rody led the Jayhawks to a 16-2 record and the Missouri Valley Conference co-championship, playing under legendary Hall of Fame coach Forrest “Phog” Allen. That season, Rody led the team and conference in scoring with a 14.7 average (a conference record that would stand for the next 15 years), and was named first team All-Missouri Valley Conference.

Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri, January 11, 1922, page 8.

George was given the “first team captaincy” of the all-Missouri Valley Conference team, the forerunner of the conference Most Valuable Player award. George was described as “the high point scorer in the Conference, combining goals from the field with shots from the foul line. The Kansas captain was a speed flash, a good shot, a brilliant dribbler, a shifty dodger, side-stepping, pivoting and out-witting his guards frequently. Also, Rody is ‘one of the finest and cleanest players in the Valley,’ quoting the coach of a rival team. Rody led the Kansas team through a strenuous schedule and held up his play nearly all the way. He is worthy of the honor in every way.” 

* * * * *

“He was the greatest set shot I ever saw on a basketball court,” stated coach Forrest “Phog” Allen of the University of Kansas in 1944.  “We played St. Louis University one night on their floor and George was doing a great job of eluding his guards.  He shot 11 times and hit 11 consecutive baskets.  The fans forgot about the score of the game and started keeping score on Rody.”

* * * * *

The 1921-1922 Kansas Jayhawk team was retroactively awarded the national championship by the Helms Athletic Foundation, the first such national basketball title for Kansas.

George Rody (middle row, third from left, was captain of the first
Kansas Jayhawk national championship basketball team.

From 1923 to 1925 George played basketball for the then-famous St. Joseph Hillyards in St. Joseph, Missouri, one of the top Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball teams in the United States.  In March 1923 the team lost in the national tournament finals, 31-18, to Kansas City.  In 1925-1926 the Hillyards won the AAU national championship and George was named to the National AAU Basketball Team.

On June 14, 1924 George married Kathleen Jessie Barrow in St. Joseph, Missouri.  They had one daughter, Jessica “Kitty” Rody.

In 1926 George was hired to be the head baseball coach for one year and basketball coach for three years at Oklahoma City Central High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  During his three years as basketball coach the Central High Cardinals won 90% of their games.  His 1928-1929 team finished second in the state tournament and competed in the national high school tournament.   

In 1929 George was named as head basketball and baseball coach of the Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical Aggies (now the Cowboys of Oklahoma State University). Rody led the baseball team to a 9-3 record in 1930 before the sport was discontinued for the 1931 season due to financial concerns. His first two basketball teams had losing seasons, with a 1-15 record in 1929-1930 and a 7-9 record in 1930-1931.  However, the 1931-1932 team’s 5-3 record earned them a Missouri Valley Conference co-championship.  In 1932 George accepted the head basketball coaching position at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Tulane Green Wave under George sported a 6-10 record in 1932-1933 and improved to an 8-5 record in 1933-1934.

In 1934 George left basketball and took a position with the Goodrich Silvertown, Inc. service station in St. Joseph, Missouri as manager of the budget department.  He then joined the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, working for them first in Kansas City and then in St. Joseph.  In 1941 he joined in a business with his father-in-law William Barrow operating a chain of canteens at army bases in support of the war effort.  

In 1942 George moved to Vancouver, Washington.  He then worked as a salesman for maintenance tools and later traveled the Northwest selling hearing aids.

George became ill in March 1956 and never recovered.  He died after three weeks in the Vancouver hospital on September 13, 1956.   George lies at rest in the Park Hill Cemetery at Vancouver.  

The Osborne County Hall of Fame is privileged now to include among its membership George Edward Rody, the legendary first national champion captain of the Kansas Jayhawks.   


  • The Daily Chronicle, Centralia, Washington, May 25, 1955, page 3.
  • The Downs News and The Downs Times, Downs, Kansas – May 31, 1917, page 1; September 13, 1917, page 1; May 30, 1918, page 1; June 13, 1918, page 3; November 14, 1918, page 5; January 19, 1922, page 1; March 22, 1923, page 1.
  • Greenleaf Sentinel, Greenleaf, Kansas, October 12, 1899, page 1.
  • Kansas City Times, September 14, 1956, page 38.
  • Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri – April 3, 1941, page 12; January 11, 1922, page 8.
  • Kirwin Kansan, Kirwin, Kansas, March 15, 1922, page 1.
  • The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, July 8, 1996, page B04.
  • Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas, February 14, 1918, page 6.
  • Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, July 17, 1954, page 14.
  • St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Missouri, May 11, 1924, page 21; December 22, 1935, page 6; June 15, 1924, page 17; March 14 1934, page 6; February 28, 1937, page 11; September 18, 1944, page 13; September 13, 1956, page 5.
  • St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Missouri, April 6, 1924, page 21.
  • University Daily Kansan, Lawrence, Kansas, March 17, 1921, page 4.
  • Wichita Eagle, Wichita, Kansas, June 20, 1929, page 19.
  • 1918 Wentworth Military Academy yearbook. Pages 47, 70-72.
  • 1921 Jayhawker yearbook, published by the Senior Class of Kansas University. Page 57.
  • 1922 Jayhawker yearbook, published by the Senior Class of Kansas University. Pages 136, 141, .
  • 1931 The Redskin yearbook, Published by the Student Association of Oklahoma A&M. Pages 351–363.
  • Kansas Historical Quarterly – Some Notes on College Basketball in Kansas, by Harold C. Evans. May 1942 (Vol. 11, No. 28). Pages 199–215.
  • Spalding’s Official Basketball Guide. 1922. American Sports Publishing Co. New York. Pages 74–75.
  • The Golden Age of Amateur Basketball: the AAU Tournament, 1921-1968. By Adolph H. Grundman. page 10.
  • 1900 United States Census, Atchison County, Kansas.
  • 1924 Buchanan County, Missouri, Marriage Licenses, page 209.
  • 1956 Washington State Death Certificate.  Rody, George Edward.
  • 1918 World War I Draft Registration Card.  Rody, George Edward.
  • 1950 Clark County, Washington Marriage Registration.  Rody, Kitty

William Harrison Norvas – Spring 2021 Inductee

With the year 2021 being the 150th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is celebrating this milestone achievement by inducting not one but two sets of inductees in this very special year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

And so on this date, May 11, 2021, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the seventh inductee of the OCHF Spring Class of 2021.

William “Bill” Harrison Norvas was born in March 12, 1920, at Downs, Osborne County, Kansas.  He was the son of Bernard M. and Ethel (Houtchens) Norvas, who had moved to Downs from Leoti, Kansas only two months prior to Bill’s arrival in the world.  Sadly, Bill’s mother Ethel suddenly died just six weeks later, leaving a grieving father with three very young children.  His father remarried on August 1, 1921 in Osborne, Kansas to Sarah Hirst, who became Bill’s true mother.  The family moved to Luray, Kansas, near to where Sarah had grown up on a nearby farm.  

Bill’s career in show business had its start in June 1931, when his family went to see the Orton Brothers circus perform in Luray.  The local Luray newspaper put the story on their front page.

*  *  *  *  *

Lad Joins Circus Troupe

Billy Norvas, twelve-year old son of B. M. Norvas, has taken up the circus life.  A week ago a circus company was in Luray and the lad lingered around, did some tricks of performance that drew the attention of the manager and as a result the arrangements were completed and Billy is on the road learning the hum-drum of this profession.  The excitement may wear off and again he may stay with it and be one of the future sensations in this performing.  Billy is a little acrobat and with proper training can make himself into a star.  He joined the troupe with his father’s consent.  Folks of his acquaintance wish him luck and hope to hear of his progress now and then.  So long as there’s people there will be a demand for entertainment and thrills and the higher the quality the better the influence. – Luray Herald, Luray, Kansas, June 18, 1931.”

*  *  *  *  *

Bill was actually only eleven years old at the time.

After a year or so of traveling with and working for two circuses, a carnival, and for a time in burlesque, Bill then went in for straight acting, crisscrossing the Midwest with a stock repertory company.  In 1934 he started high school in Luray and then finished his nearly three years of high school at Wauneta, Nebraska, before leaving during his junior year to work in nightclubs in Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois.  Bill then worked in vaudeville in both Montreal and Ottawa, Canada, prior to becoming master of ceremonies and entertainer for Rollo Sissell and His Orchestra in Omaha, Nebraska, working as a first-rate scat-singer and tap dancer. He did the same job later for the Bennett-Gretten Orchestra, where he started writing musical arrangements.   

Newspaper advertisement, Grand Island Daily Independent,
Grand Island, Nebraska, March 7, 1941.

In July 1942 the 5-foot, 10 ½-inch tall, 169-pound Norvas was drafted into the U.S. Army Infantry, 25th Division, at Minneapolis, Minnesota.  At first he gave recruitment speeches and later served as an entertainment director in the Pacific theater.  Bill worked at a radio station in New Caledonia alongside Jack Parr, improved his studies on the piano and arranged music for the bands of Ina Ray Hutton and Lionel Hampton.  And he began writing songs.   Bill received his discharge from the Army with the rank of sergeant on November 4, 1945.

Bill then went to New York, where he was hired on a retainer to write music and lyrics and sketches for several possible musicals.  In 1948 Bill formed the first incarnation of Bill Norvas and the Upstarts in Long Beach, California.  The Upstarts were a theatrical troupe who were a top vocal group as well as expert dancers and comics, and they quickly gained bookings across the country from January 1949 to Washington, D.C., in April 1949, where they garnered national attention from an appearance at the Crossroads. 

Newspaper advertisement, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii, November 6, 1948. The “Pete Marshall,” seen here as one of the Upstarts, gained fame later as Peter Marshall, the host of the popular game show “Hollywood Squares.”

*  *  *  *  *


Bill Norvas and the Upstarts, a new act making their New York big time debut, opened last night at the Copacabana in support of star comedian Joe E. Lewis. It’s a youthful vocal, comedy, dance team (three men and two girls) which was organized. last February and caught on quickly, touring some of the nation’s leading night clubs and theaters. Norvas, in addition to being lead man for the group, writes material for all five in the troupe and also directs. Others are Dee Arlen, Ronnie Edwards, Larry Kert and Phyllis Cameron.  Average age is 21.  The act replaces singer Kay Starr.” – Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, October 7, 1949.

*  *  *  *  *

Broadway Hard Work Counts Most in Top Night Club Act

By Mark Barron

“Youngsters are continually trying to find a wedge into the door of Broadway fame such as young Bill Norvas and his fledgling Upstarts have brought into the swank Copacabana.

The youngsters, two girls and three boys, are a good case history for kids to study when they get ideas they may have the talent to put their names in lights.

Their case history shows that youngsters don’t just spring to fame overnight or that they are born with an extraordinary gift denied to others.  Bill Norvas says it is native talent combined with hard work . . . and hard work is the most important part.

‘We started when we were all students at the University of California in Los Angeles,’ Norvas said between sessions at the Copacabana. ‘I had been in show business and had an idea for an act and began looking around for talent.  I not only found talent but I also found a wife.’

So here is how a top night club act is born:

Norvas first found Phyllis Cameron, a 20-year-old telephone operator working in a Beverly Hills furniture store.

Then he found Larry Kent [Kert], a student at UCLA who was on the same gymnastics team with him in college. Then he found Ronnie Edwards, a 20-year-old mechanic in a Los Angeles garage, who was a singer.

Then he found Dee Arlen, an 18-year-old UCLA student. He took her into the act and then married her when they stopped over in New Orleans where they played at the Hotel Roosevelt.

‘That made up the act, but I knew that for an act with five people in it we had to be versatile. We had to sing, dance and act,’ he said. ‘And we had to be individual entertainers at the same time. It’s much tougher with five people in an act than if you tried to do a single, because we have to have precision timing, and do our individual bits without intruding upon one another.’

Norvas is a triple-threat man for he writes, directs and acts in this group act which presents comedy, song, pantomime, acrobatics and hilarious and harmonious confusion.

‘I was born in Downs, Kansas,’ Norvas said, ‘and it has taken me 26 years to get to Broadway. I’m an old man, because I consider I only started when I got this this act to Broadway.

‘I write the material, stage it and I write most of the songs we use because they must be special, original songs which fit in with our personal characteristics and method of delivery. I write them just for our own use. I can’t think of any other singer being able to use them.” – News-Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, October 30, 1949.

*  *  *  *  *

Bill and Dee were married on July 26, 1949 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. They became the parents of two children, William Jr. and Laurie. 

Bill Norvas and the Upstarts co-starred in the 1950 stage play Tickets, Please!, a musical revue that ran for 245 performances at the Coronet Theatre in New York City and throughout the northeastern United States.  

Tickets, Please! 1950 cast tryout playbill.

That same year the Upstarts performed on the television show The Arthur Murray Party.  By 1952 the Upstarts had performed on television in The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Kate Smith Show, and The Milton Berle Show.  Also in 1952 Bill co-wrote the lyrics to one of the decade’s biggest pop hits, “Make Love to Me” by Jo Stafford.  Tennessee Ernie Ford had a Top 100 hit with Bill’s 1957 composition “The Watermelon Song.”  Under his own name, as well as under the aliases “Bill Eustrom” and “Friday Breedlove,” Bill – who never had any formal training in music – either composed or co-composed in his career around 160 copyrighted songs and commercial recordings.

Newspaper advertisement, Los Angeles Evening Citizen,
Los Angeles, California, January 17, 1957.

From 1953 to 1955 Bill and his wife Dee performed together as a duo; they would later divorce in January 1960.  In 1955 Bill and a new version of the Upstarts toured nightclubs across the American West.  In 1958 a new version of the Upstarts performed nationally that included Jim Pike and Tony Butala, both of whom soon left to form their own soon-to-be hit pop group, The Lettermen. Bill wrote two episodes for the television series Hawaiian Eye, “Father, Dear Father” and “The Comics,” in 1961.  In early 1963 Bill Norvas and the New Upstarts cut some recordings for Capitol Records.  That same year he wrote an episode of the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  The next year Bill created the stage show “Holiday in the Orient” as well a musical review called “Tobacco Road.”  In October 1965 his musical “Shindig on the Ranch” debuted in Nevada. 

In 1966 The Swingin’ Generation, a versatile and upbeat group of youngsters led by Bill, debuted on the Las Vegas Strip and had a very successful run through early 1968. 

*  *  *  *  *

Bill Norvas at His Best in “Swingin’ Generation”

By Dick Alexander

“Bill Norvas, triple-threat entertainer, has had some very impressive musical groups in his few years in show business – like the Upstarts and New Upstarts.

And now he has come up with his best: The Swingin’ Generation, which is playing a one-week engagement at The Spanish Trail this week.

Norvas, singer-leader-arranger, recently took six young musicians, added two good-looking girls and tied the package together with his own arranging talents. The result is what hopefully will be a return by this country to musical sanity from the abyss of rock ‘n’ cacophony.

Herb Alpert, with a new sound in his immensely popular Tijuana Brass, probably started the trend back to the big sound, and it’s up to guys like Bill Norvas to add to the impetus.

It would be more than an understatement to say that the Swingin’ Generation is being well received at the Trail Room. The audience welcomes this group like New Yorkers would welcome a National League pennant from the Mets.

The show is so well-paced and closely knit it is over too soon. At least, it must be about the shortest 45 minutes in show business.

Space usually doesn’t permit, but this time it is worth mentioning all the names: Jim Price, trumpet and trombone; Eric Fickert, baritone sax; Jay Petricini, trombone; Barry Louis, all reed instruments; Lyn Hamm, drums; Stan Jay, piano; Toni Ingram and Merril Joy, voices; and, of course, the maestro, Norvas. All sing in addition to playing.

Did you notice there isn’t a single twangy guitar in the line-up? Norvas does, however manage to intersperse a couple rock-style tunes in good taste

It is one thing to have the material, but a good outfit needs teamwork and hours of rehearsing. It shows here.

Not to single out any one performer for particular praise – they are all outstanding – we list some of the repertoire, done in modern and standard arrangements.

There is a little bit of Kenton, some Modernaires, and a smattering of Tijuana, but we believe the sound of the Swingin’ Generation will be recognized soon in the wilderness on its own merits – and for the Bill Norvas touch.” – Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona, July 14, 1966.

*  *  *  *  *

In 1968 through 1969 Bill worked for Red Skelton and wrote sketches for Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  During the 1970s he concentrated mainly on writing both plays and scripts, and would take the odd job to sustain his writing.  Bill worked for a time in both Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee in the 1970s and 1980s writing music, and primarily lived off the money he regularly received from royalties on his songs.  In 1994 Bill wrote a song, “Snap, Crackle, Pop” for the episode “Confessions of Sorority Girls” in the television series Rebel Highway.

William Harrison Norvas died on September 19, 1996, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and his ashes were scattered by his family in the Pacific Ocean.  A tombstone for him was placed next to his mother and sister in the Cheyenne Cemetery in Jackson Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  [Unfortunately, the birth and death years given on the stone, 1915–1998, are incorrect.]

A largely self-taught circus performer, vaudevillian, entertainer, lyricist, musician, playwright, and sketch comedy writer, Bill Norvas was a one-man tour de force who now takes his rightful place as the latest member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.  

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The following list are some of the performers and musicians that Bill Norvas worked with during his career:

Steve Allen

Les Baxter

Ken Berry

Sid Caesar

Ray Conniff

Alan Copeland

Dennis Day

Jimmy Dean

Frank DeVol

Phyllis Diller

Tommy Dorsey

Tennessee Ernie Ford

Lionel Hampton

Ina Rae Hutton

Gordon Jenkins

Tom Jones

Danny Kaye

Peggy Lee

Tony Butala & Jim Pike (later became The Lettermen)


Peter Marshall

Jaye P. Morgan

Jack Parr

Nelson Riddle

Dick Shawn

Red Skelton

Rip Taylor

Fred Travalena

Andy Williams

Joanne Worley

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45 RPM record images featuring some of Bill Norvas’ compositions:





Date Unknown


  • Bill Norvas, Jr., Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Billboard Magazine, April 23, 1949, page 44.
  • Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona – August 5, 1962, page 22; July 14, 1966, Page 40.
  • Austin American, Austin, Texas, October 21, 1962, page 63.
  • Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, April 2, 1950, page 128.
  • Bradford Era, Bradford, Pennsylvania, April 16, 1949, page 11.
  • Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, October 7, 1949, page 11.
  • Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, Chillicothe, Missouri, March 4, 1941, page 7.
  • Dayton Daily News, Dayton, Ohio, February 28, 1954, page 67.
  • Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, September 27, 1954, page 18.
  • Downs News and Downs Times – May 13, 1920, page 7; May 3, 1951, page 1.
  • Grand Island Daily Independent, Grand Island, Nebraska, March 7, 1941, page 2.
  • Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii, November 6, 1948, page 4.
  • Kansas City Times, Kansas City, Kansas, April 27, 1951, page 23.
  • Leoti Standard, Leoti, Kansas, April 29, 1920, page 10.
  • Los Angeles Evening Citizen, Los Angeles, California – January 17, 1957, page 5; May 3 1953, page 117.
  • Miami News, Miami, Florida, October 29, 1949, Page 4.
  • Natoma Independent, Natoma, KansasJune 25, 1931, page 2; June 25, 1931, page 2; January 10, 1935, page 1.
  • Natoma-Luray Independent, Natoma, Kansas, June 23, 1955, page 1.
  • Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada, February 9, 1963, page 19.
  • New York Daily News, New York, New York – May 7, 1950, Page 115; August 31, 1950, page 362; October 17, 1951, page 75.
  • News-Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, October 30, 1949, page 34.
  • Osborne County Farmer, Osborne, Kansas – August 4, 1921, page 1; September 1, 1966, page 7.
  • Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 14, 1949, page 16.
  • Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno, Nevada – November 8 1952, page 2; December 10, 1958, page 10; August 21, 1959, page 23; February 8 1963, page 26; October 30, 1965, page 24; February 18, 1966, Page 34; March 11 1966, page 33.
  • Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas, August 25, 1966, page 3.
  • San Bernadino County Sun, San Bernadino, California, November 10, 1966, page 50.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri – November 7, 1950, page 35; November 8, 1953, page 41.
  • St. Louis Star and Times, December 1, 1949, page 40.
  • The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, January 27, 1950, page 15.
  • The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, February 8, 1953, page 20.
  • The World, Coos Bay, Oregon, June 13, 1955, page 3.
  • Tucson Daily Citizen, Tucson, Arizona, March 25, 1965, page 46.
  • Valley Times, North Hollywood, California, July 16, 1964, page 23.
  • Department of Justice, Arriving Passenger Lists, S.S. Hawaiian Farmer, January 1949, from Hawaii to California.
  • U.S. Army, 1941 World War II Draft Registration Card.
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Nevada. William Norvas, Plaintiff, versus Bob Banner Associates, a California corporation; Al Massini; Telerep, Inc., a Delaware corporation; Nick Vanoff, and Sanford Wernick, Defendants. Deposition of William Norvas, taken on Wednesday, March 25, 1987, Las Vegas, Nevada.  Copy courtesy Bill Norvas, Jr.  
  • U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015
  • 27579401209/facts?_phsrc=i96-2130160&_phstart=successSource