The concept of an Osborne County Hall of Fame (OCHF) came into being in1996, the 125th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas. The idea was conceived to honor 125 of the past and present major figures in the county up to that time. To determine who these individuals were the county was divided up into six regions. In each region a committee of volunteers chose OCHF honorees from that region and then researched and wrote their life stories.
The guidelines agreed upon in 1995 for when considering inductions in the OCHF were as follows:
1. Inductees must either have been born in Osborne County or have lived in Osborne County at least one year.
2. Inductees can be either living or dead.
3. To warrant consideration a person has to have (a) given outstanding service to their community and to Osborne County, or done so on a regional, statewide, national, or international scale; (b) performed a feat in their field of expertise that has garnered them (and through them, Osborne County) special significance; and (c) achieved recognition or notoriety through long-term association with a particular occupation.
4. Singular inductee selections are preferred, except in rare cases where two persons either helped each other or followed in each other’s footsteps in such a way that their stories were tightly intertwined. These can then be inducted together, with each committee free to exercise their own judgment of such cases.
5. Impartiality is stressed during selection. Be it a politician, teacher, farmer, hairdresser, ditchdigger, whatever—if they fulfilled the criteria within the guidelines they are to be considered. Nor should someone be inducted merely because they are related to one of the people on the board or committee that is deciding who potential inductees are to be.
As the various committees finished stories these were then sent to Von Rothenberger, Hall of Fame Director, who then contacted the three county newspapers, who in turn agreed to run a certain number of stories once a month throughout 1996. By the end of the year the stories some 75 OCHF honorees had been published.
Enough public enthusiasm for the stories was shown that during the following year, 1997, the book “The Osborne County, Kansas Hall of Fame” by the All-Volunteers of the Osborne County Hall of Fame was published by Closson Press. In the book the stories of the previous 75 honorees were repeated and expanded, and 50 additional stories were debuted, bringing the Hall’s members to 125.
For four years the concept lay dormant. Then in 2001 it was revived by the members of the Bull City Community Foundation of Alton, Kansas, who were searching for a tourist attraction for their town. It was decided to hold an annual banquet at which three to five new OCHF members would be honored, with the idea of generating enough public interest to actually create a physical Osborne County Hall of Fame Museum & Archives in downtown Alton.
From 2001 through 2006 banquets were held each year in a different city in the county – in Alton (2001 & 2002), Osborne (2003), Natoma (2004), Downs (2006), and again in Alton (2006). In 2007 no banquet was held; however, the honorees were celebrated at the Osborne County Courthouse Centennial Celebration. In 2008 and 2009 no banquets were held due to a waning enthusiasm for the concept. In 2010 an attempt was made to revive the OCHF and six new honorees were voted on and agreed upon, but shortly before that year’s honorary banquet was to take place the host city of Portis declined to continue to participate. The banquet was cancelled and that chapter of the OCHF was closed.
From the beginning those involved with the Osborne County Hall of Fame held its principles to the following Mission Statement: “To Record, Recognize and Preserve the Stories of Past and Present Osborne County, Kansas Residents Who Have Impacted Social, Economic, and Political Development at the County, State, National, and International Levels.”
After 2001 the OCHF honorees were selected by a committee of knowledgeable people who represented all parts of Osborne County. The process turned out to be much harder than one would think, due to the surprising number of gifted people, when viewed from the county level, that were annually presented for consideration. Director Rothenberger was responsible for the list of those to be considered, and many hours of research every year was conducted to maintain the list. Volunteers such as Deanna Roach, David Readio, Larry Bales, Homer Smuck, and many, many more were instrumental in seeing that the banquets were successful and belief in the overall idea stayed firm for nearly a decade. The stories that follow are due to their hard work and will stand as a testament of pride and satisfaction in the legacy of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
Not Only the Famous but the Those who Should be Famous best describes the astonishing array of past and present notable people have been brought to the attention of the general public through the OCHF, many of whom otherwise would have been forgotten and forever unappreciated. So sit back and enjoy each future story of these marvelous OCHF honorees as they appear here and think about the people that you encounter every day who are doing amazing things that should be celebrated.
Von Rothenberger, Director, Osborne County Hall of Fame