John Harm Voss – 1996 Inductee

John Harm Voss worked as a grain and implement dealer in Downs for fifty-five years and was active in local, area and statewide civic affairs.  A friendly and outgoing man who was well-known all across the area where he lived, Harm was especially active in the Republican Party and served as a Kansas State Senator.

Harm was born June 18, 1889, to George and Elizabeth (Buikstra) Voss on their farm northeast of Downs in Ross Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  His family relates how he was born in a dugout because the family home was being remodeled at the time of his birth.  Coming from a family of ten children, he gave and took a lot of gruff and joking but was serious in his business dealings with people.  He was a person you could lean on and were glad to share your life with.

Harm married Mabel A. Scott on April 4, 1917, in Downs.  They were the parents of two daughters, Lorraine and Althea.  Harm was active in community affairs.  He was a charter member of Downs Rotary Club and served as its president.  He was a Downs city councilman, a member of the Downs Chamber of Commerce, attended the Methodist Church, and was a member of the BPO Elks at Beloit.  He also found time to serve the Beloit Community Hospital on its board of directors.  Another interest for Harm was serving the Boy Scouts of America in several positions.  He was a member of their Coronado Area Council Executive Committee; was vice-chairman and an executive board member for the Piconda District; and served on the advisory committees of both the Wheatland and Tomahawk districts.  He also was a member of the Masonic Order, AF and AM, including memberships in the Shrine Isis Temple and the Royal Order of Jesters, both of Salina.

As a grain dealer, Harm was especially active in the Kansas Grain Dealers Association.  He was elected vice-president of that group in 1927 and became president in 1929.  After serving on the board of directors from 1927 to 1971, he was elected a lifetime member of the board.  As a culmination of this segment of his career, Harm was honored as Kansas Grainman of the Year in 1969.  He also was a member of the State Grain Advisory Committee for six years.

Harm served the Republican Party in several positions, ranging from precinct committeeman to delegate to the 1960 national convention in Chicago.  He served as Osborne County Republican Party chairman for twenty years, was Sixth District chairman for twelve years, and also was treasurer of the state committee.

Appointed to the Kansas Senate to fill an unexpired term, he was elected to two more terms, serving the 32nd Senatorial District from 1963 to 1972.  In the senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Engrossed and Enrolled Bills, was Supervisor of Bills, and his assignments included roads and highways, banks and banking, oil and gas, public utilities, printing, and fees, salaries and mileage.  After his death on April 23, 1975, the Kansas Senate passed Resolution Number 39, honoring his memory.  Senator Voss was buried in the Downs Cemetery.

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