Willis Albert “Bill” Paschal – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 8, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the fourth of five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

2013-09-08 90th birthday grey background
Bill Paschal, taken on his 90th birthday.

 

The seventh and latest Valley Township resident to be named a member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame was born September 9, 1923, the third child of Albert and Clara (Russum) Paschal in the Vincent community in Osborne County, north of Luray, Kansas. Willis Albert “Bill” Paschal was welcomed by older siblings Inez (Breeden) and Wallace. From a very young age, Bill was helping his father with chores around the farm. He helped to work the horse-drawn plows, tended to cattle and horses, and weeded gardens, among many other tasks.  At the tender age of seven Bill’s mother died, and the young boy became a very independent thinker and doer. By the age of nine he was riding his pony the seven miles to Luray and on another four miles east to spend the week at a farmer’s home, herding his cattle along the road for pennies a day.

 

Paschal Bill 8 to 9 years old
Bill at age 8 or 9 years old.

His father married Hazel Cooper a few years later. The family soon welcomed the addition of Robert and later Maurita (Cederberg). Bill’s grade school years were in the rural one-room Vincent School. He would usually ride his pony there. When it was too cold to ride, his father, Albert, would put him in an old milk wagon, point the horse towards the school, and slap the horse on the rump. This was reversed for the trip home. Bill had many cousins in the surrounding Vincent community with whom he enjoyed spending time. Because of their love of baseball, Albert and Wallace constructed a baseball field out of the corner of a pasture. The cousins enjoyed many games played on Paschal Field.

Bill attended and graduated from Luray High School with the class of 1941. During high school he participated in basketball and football (lettering multiple times), and was part of the undefeated football team of 1940. Another cherished memory was of beating Russell High School in basketball (Bob Dole was on Russell’s team). At the age of 15 Bill was one of the workers who dug out the floor (by hand) of the Hickman Theater to turn it from a theater to a gymnasium, which was used by Luray High School and is now known as the Luray Legion Hall.

Paschal Bill at 16
Bill at age 16 years.
Paschal Bill 1940 Luray High football team Bill is #5 in back row
Bill was #5 ( find the “x”) on the Luray High School undefeated team of 1940.
Paschal Bill at age 19 WWII
Bill was 19 years old when he entered the Army Air Corps during World War II.

After graduation Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. By the age of 19 he had become an instructor for ground and aerial gunnery (50mm machine gun) at Tyndall Field in Florida. After ten missions over northern Europe as a nose gunner on a B-24, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Austria, the day after his 21st birthday. Bill parachuted, landing in the Danube River, where he was discovered by a farmer’s dog and captured. The next eight months were spent in POW camp Stalag IV-B, in northern Germany. To combat both boredom and the extreme cold, Bill fashioned a crochet hook from a piece of wood he pulled loose from a floorboard. He would unravel the sleeves of sweaters sent by the Red Cross and, recalling how he used to watch his grandmother crochet, he invented a crochet stitch and proceeded to crochet hats and gloves for himself and other soldiers. In the last months of the war, Bill was forced to endure the hardships of three months of the “Black March”. Starvation and freezing temperatures were a constant threat. He was eventually liberated by Scottish Highlander soldiers, and proceeded to walk to Holland in order to find a ship home. Bill was honorably discharged in October 1945.

Bill returned to his parents’ home in the Vincent community, and enrolled at Kansas State University (KSU). While in college he started his farming operation, renting 160 acres in Osborne County and soon buying a farm one mile east of Luray. In order to keep farming while attending college, Bill would hitchhike from Manhattan back to Luray on the weekends. During this time he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Johnson, on New Year’s Day 1947. After they both graduated from KSU, Bill with a degree in agricultural economics and Joyce with an education degree, they made their home in the Luray area where Bill was a successful farmer/stockman and Joyce taught school. Over the years he was featured in several farming publications for his progressive farming techniques and soil conservation efforts. Bill and Joyce were named Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker for the year 1981. Their farming operation increased to include almost 6,000 acres (including the Osborne County farm he grew up on) growing crops of wheat, milo, and alfalfa and running a cattle and hog operation.

Paschal Bill & Hazel Cooper wedding 1 Jan 1947
Bill wedded Joyce Johnson on January 1, 1947.

Bill has served his community by involving himself in area activities. During his 20s he played on the Luray community baseball team, usually as the catcher. Bill also umpired many baseball games in the area. When he was a little older, on most Friday nights he could be found working the score clock at a Luray basketball game or the chains at numerous high school football games. The stands at these football games were filled with people wearing hats bearing the orange and black of Luray High School. Bill crocheted all those hats using the crochet hook and the crochet stitch he invented while he was held prisoner in the POW camp. If there was any event in town, Bill could usually be found helping to set up for it and cleaning up afterward.

In the past Bill has served on the board of directors for Midway Co-op, served many years on the Russell County Free Fair board, the Russell County 4-H Development Fund board, and over 30 years as a 4-H club leader of the Wolf Creek Valley 4-H Club. He is a charter member of the Luray Lion’s Club (over 65 years), a member of American Legion Post 309, and of Luray United Methodist Church where he has served  on the  Board of Trustees, Administrative Board, and on the Building Committee when they built the new church in 1968. He also sang in the church choir on a weekly basis. Bill served at the first Luray Methodist Men’s Fish Fry in 1939 and served again at the 79th annual event in 2017, missing volunteering for this event only while in captivity during World War II.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Von Rothenberger took this photo of Bill Paschal at the 79th Luray Fish Fry on March 17, 2017.
Paschal Bill part of Am Legion firing squad Memorial Day
Bill Paschal participating with the Luray American Legion as part of the firing squad during annual Memorial Day ceremonies.
Paschal Bill rafting June 17 2016 Colorado
Proving that age is just a number, Bill Paschal enjoys rafting with family members in this photo from June 2016.

Bill is now retired from farming, with his son Mark taking over the farm. He and Joyce (deceased November 2012) have three children – Mark Paschal, Martha Powell, and Meredith Mense. He loves to spend time with his grandchildren – Nicole (Paschal) Webber, Dr. Caitlin Powell, Garrett Powell, Brennan Mense, and Michaela Mense. Bill is thrilled by the addition of his first great-grandson, Landyn Webber, and continues to make his home at Luray – the home of an honored member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

 

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World War II veteran recalls experiences as a German POW

Salina Journal

Friday, November 11, 2016

By Gary Demuth

LURAY — Until he was held as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II, Bill Paschal never thought the time he spent watching his grandmother crochet would come in handy.

Paschal, a nose gunner on a B-24 bomber, parachuted into the Danube River after his plane was shot down over Vienna, Austria, on Sept. 10, 1944 — the day after his 21st birthday.

Now he was in Stalag IV-B, a German POW camp in the far northern city of Stettin, Germany. During his nine months at the camp, much of it during a fiercely cold winter, Paschal and his fellow prisoners experienced frigid temperatures in uninsulated cabins with nothing but a small heating stove for warmth.

The Red Cross had supplied the prisoners with sweaters to help keep them warm, but that didn’t help their half-frozen hands and bare heads. That’s when Paschal had an idea. They would rip the sleeves off their sweaters, unravel them into strings of yarn, and Paschal would crochet them into gloves and caps.

“Me and another prisoner, Rex, a kid from Missouri, remembered watching our grandmothers crochet while we were growing up,” said Paschal, now 93. “We made some crochet needles from tree branches and fiddled around until we made gloves and caps that looked like little hunter hats with flaps.”

Paschal was happy to do this service for his fellow prisoners, crocheting nearly 50 hats and gloves during his nine months at the camp.

“It was something to do in the camp,” he said.

‘Black March’

On the eve of Veterans Day, Paschal recalled his service during World War II, where he not only flew 10 missions on a B-24 and spent months in a German POW camp but was part of a German “Black March,” where thousands of POWs marched countless miles in northern Europe to avoid the advancing American and Allied forces from the west and Russia from the east.

The Germans wanted to keep the prisoners to use as bargaining tools as the war came to an end, but the arduous march cost the lives of 6,000 of their starved and exhausted captives.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” Paschal said.

It was a situation Paschal never envisioned for himself while growing up the middle child of five on a Luray farm family. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the U.S. entered World War II, Paschal and a few of his buddies went to Kansas City to enlist in October 1942. Paschal was just 18 at the time, a recent graduate of Luray High School.

“I signed up for the Army Air Corps and went off that day because I didn’t want to have to come back later,” he said.

Paschal went through basic training at Tyndall Field, Florida, near Panama City and became an instructor for ground and aerial gunnery beginning at age 19. In 1944, he was deployed to Europe, eventually ending up at an air base in southern Italy.

Shot Down

Paschal became a nose gunner on a B-24, operating a .50 caliber machine gun and manning a gun turret. He flew 10 missions over northern Europe before the September day when his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire during a bombing raid into Austria and began spiraling into a crash dive.

“The captain held onto the controls as the plane spun around, and he jumped out just before it crashed into the Danube River,” Paschal said. “I parachuted into the river and crawled up the bank. We were being hunted by local farmers who had a police dog, and the dog found me. They turned me in.”

At home in Luray, Paschal’s sister Maurita, then just 7, remembered her parents receiving a telegram saying their son was “missing in action.”

“My brother Robert and I were walking home from school, and we saw our parents coming down the road towards us,” she said. “We knew something was wrong from the looks on their faces. They told us Bill had been shot down and they didn’t know where he was.”

It took another two months before the Paschal family was informed that Bill was in a POW camp in Germany.

“Dad would sit with his ear against the radio every night to hear the war news and find out anything he could about the POWs,” she said.

POW Life

At the stalag, or prison camp, about 26 prisoners were crammed into rooms of about 15-by-15 feet. They slept on triple-deck bunk beds and ate rutabaga, kohlrabi and boiled potatoes, with the occasional luxury of horse meat.

Cigarettes also were a luxury at the camp. Paschal, who didn’t smoke, traded the crocheted caps and gloves he had made for cigarettes, then traded the cigarettes for food to nicotine-addicted prisoners who would rather smoke than eat.

Paschal said he wasn’t the only crafty operator in the camp. There were prisoners who made radios out of wires ripped out of their insulated air uniforms. With these wires and other scrap items, they were able to fashion a crystal radio set to receive war news coming over the airwaves.

“Every night, there was a guy who would sneak around to different cabins and give us news reports of war activities,” he said. “The Germans never knew.”

After the American and Allied armies began pushing into Europe, the Germans decided to move their POWs to another stalag. They marched to different locations in northern Europe for three months in what became known as the “Black March.”

“They were losing the war, so they just started marching us in circles,” Paschal said. “We slept on the ground and were not fed well. It was constantly moving, moving.”

Liberated

Paschal estimated the march covered about 800 miles before they were liberated by Scottish Highlander troops.

“We were marching north with the Americans coming one way and the Russians coming the other,” Paschal said. “After awhile, we noticed there weren’t any guards around anymore. They knew the war was coming to an end, so they disappeared one day. We continued to march and ended up in Holland.”

After being liberated, Paschal was sent back to the U.S. He took a train to Kansas, stopping in Russell, where he was met by his father and brother Wallace.

“He weighed about 100 pounds by the time he got home,” sister Maurita said. “His eyes were so sunken, it didn’t look like him at all.”

Paschal was honorably discharged from the Army and went to college, earning a agricultural economics degree from Kansas State University. On New Year’s Day 1947, he married Joyce Johnson, his childhood sweetheart in Luray, who had worked as a secretary for the Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C.

Paschal spent his life farming in the Luray and Russell County areas. Joyce became a teacher and had three children, Mark, Martha and Meredith.

For years, Paschal didn’t talk about his war experiences and kept all of his war memorabilia in a trunk, including uniforms, his POW dog tag, a German backpack with a wooden block reading “Destination Home” and his medals, which include a POW medal and two Purple Hearts.

What people in his hometown did discover about Paschal’s war years was his crocheting ability, which led to many requests for caps and gloves.

“After I got home, everybody wanted caps and gloves,” he said. “But they had to be orange and black. Those were our school colors.”

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Paschal Bill Storytelling ad Salina Journal 2006 10 Nov

Paschal Bill Storytelling advert Salina Journal 2006 10 Nov
Two advertisements for a talk on Bill Paschal’s WWII POW experiences, from the Salina Journal newspaper of November 10, 2016.

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Luray Farm Couple Honored

Salina Journal

March 11, 1982, Page One

MANHATTAN – A Russell County farmer, who was once a prisoner of war, and his wife, who has taught school for 25 years to help make ends meet, have been named 1981 Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker for Northwest Kansas.

They are Mr. and Mrs. Bill Paschal, Luray.

Six couples will be honored March 19th at the annual Kansas Master Farmer-Master Farm Homemaker recognition banquet on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan.

The other honorees are Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Colle, Sterling; Mr. and Mrs. Dean Hamilton, Dodge City; Mr. and Mrs. William Beezley, Girard; Mr. and Mrs. Detman Gooderl, Hoyt; and Mr. and Mrs. Ewald Meier, Palmer.

Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker competition is sponsored by the KSU Cooperative Extension Service and the Kansas Association of Commerce and Industry to honor outstanding farm couples.

Nominees are submitted by county extension councils. A five-member judging panel at Kansas State selects the recipients on the basis of excellence in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural citizenship.

The Paschals, both 58, purchased their first land – 240 acres just east of Luray – in 1951. Their operation now includes 1, 600 acres (160 acres in Wyoming) and another 280 rented acres.

About 950 acres are in cultivation and the remainder are pasture.

Strong believers in diversity, the Paschals grow wheat, milo, and alfalfa, feed about 150 steers a year and run a 100-head cow herd.

“If something happens to the profitability of one enterprise, hopefully the others will carry us through,” Paschal says.

The beef cattle operation starts with the purchase of 45-pound crossbred steers in the fall. Steers are wintered on sorghum silage that includes ground grain. Cattle are moved to bromegrass pasture for the summer.

If plenty of milo is available in the fall, steers are finished on milo, ensilage alfalfa, then sold at 1,100 to 1,200 pounds in the spring. Otherwise, they are sold as 800 to 900-pound feeders in the fall.

They also had a farrow-to-finish hog operation for a number of years, but have now turned that operation over to their son, Mark.

The cropping operation is built around a wheat, milo and summer fallow rotation. Herbicide is sprayed and bladed in immediately after wheat harvest, and the land is planted to milo in the spring.

Last year, Paschal had 330 acres of wheat, 225 acres of milo cut for grain, 53 acres of forage sorghum cut for silage and 24 acres of alfalfa. About 270 acres are fallowed each year.

Soil conservation get top billing on the Paschal farm. About 600 acres of cropland have been terraced and a number of ponds have been built in pastures.

The Paschal farmstead has undergone a number of improvements over the years. An old concrete cattle shed with an open front was closed in and used as a farrowing house. A number of new structures were added, including a metal garage and shop, a pole-type building for machinery storage, a 40-by-80-foot steel building for grain and machinery storage, a hay shed and five steel grain bins.

Original wooden corrals have been replaced with steel and are served with automatic waterers. Many of the electric lines, as well as the water and natural gas lines, are underground.

The Paschals are active off the farm. They are members of the United Methodist Church in Luray where Bill has served as chairman of the church board, sung in the choir and is on the pastor-parish and pension fund committees.

Joyce has been an extension homemaker unit member for many years, and both have been 4-H community leaders for 18 years.

Bill has served as county Farm Bureau president, Farm Management Association director, county fair board president and director of the Midway Co-op board. He also served on the county extension council and has been a member of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Livestock Association. He was a charter member of the Luray Lions Club, commander of the American Legion and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Joyce is a member of the National, Kansas and Russell County Education Associations, and Delta Kappa Gamma International educational sorority.

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60th Wedding anniv Salina Journal 31 Dec 2006 Page 10
60th Wedding announcement for Bill and Joyce Paschal, from the Salina Journal newspaper of December 31, 2006.

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SOURCES: Maurita Cederberg, Luray, Kansas; Meredith Mense, Kansas City, Kansas; Mark Paschal, Luray, Kansas; Willis “Bill” Paschal, Luray, Kansas; Martha Powell, Spring Hill, Kansas; Salina Journal, March 11, 1982; Salina Journal, December 31, 2006; Salina Journal, November 11, 2016; Salina Journal, December 31, 2006.

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Wilda Juanita (Stockbridge) Carswell – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 5, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the first of the five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

Our next inductee has been a dynamic and effective leader since childhood and continues to be an advocate for quality of life in the community and county that she has called home for the past eight decades.

Wilda Juanita (Stockbridge) Carswell was born May 4, 1935 on the farm of her parents, Edgar & Ruth (Glodfelty) Stockbridge, in Hawkeye Township, northeast of Alton, Kansas. Their farm was the 1871 homestead of Edgar’s grandparents, Ira and Abbie Stockbridge. Wilda attended the old rock Alton Grade School and later Alton Rural High School, where she was a cheerleader and active in the school band and in school plays. Wilda served as an officer and district president of the Future Homemakers of America (FHA) and was awarded the State FHA Homemaker Degree in 1952.

 

Carswell Wilda 1936 18 months old Edar & Ruth Stockbridge parents
Wilda at age 18 months with her parents, Edgar & Ruth Stockbridge.

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“Little Wilda Stockbridge spent Wednesday at the Jamie Boland home while her mother attended community circle.” – Wilda’s first public mention, in the Grant Center social column of the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of October 13, 1938, Page 6.

Carswell Wilda 1941 1st day of school note lunchbox
Wilda and her lunchbox on her first day of school, 1941. 
Carswell Wilda 8 years old 1943
Wilda Stockbridge at age eight years old.

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“Hobbies are nice and everyone should have a hobby. Miss Wilda Stockbridge of Alton has a hobby of collecting paper napkins. They make a nice collection. She had about 125 and would be glad to receive any from friends. Remember her when you are on your vacation. Write the store, place or town on them.” – Osborne Farmer-Journal, June 26, 1947, Page 6.

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Wilda graduated from Alton Rural High in May 1953 and on June 7, 1953, she married Deryl Carswell at the Alton First United Methodist Church. Deryl’s grandfather, John Thomas Paynter, had homesteaded in Osborne County’s Grant Township in 1894. The farm’s original sod house was replaced by a new frame house in 1900. Deryl’s parents moved here in 1919 and stayed until 1953, when they moved into Alton. Deryl and Wilda then took over the farm and raised their four children – Donita, Janel, Darwin, and Jay – there. At present Wilda’s growing family includes twelve grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Carswell Wilda senior photo 1953 AHS
Wilda’s 1953 senior high school graduation photograph. 
Carswell Wilda & Deryl wedding 1953
Wedding photo of Wilda Stockbridge and Deryl Carswell, 1953.

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Salina Journal

October 14, 1956

Elect Officers

OSBORNE – At the last Rural Life meeting, officers elected were: President, Max LaRosh; Vice-President, Wilda Carswell; Secretary, Joyce Hays; treasurer, Phyllis Lund; reporter, Don Peterson; and recreation chairman, Deryl Carswell.

The Rural Lifers will hold their annual Halloween party on October 26th at the Legion Hall in Osborne. There will be a professional square dance caller. There will be social dances also.

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In 2000 Deryl & Wilda were the recipients of the Goodyear Co-Opera­tor of the Year Award by the Osborne County Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service. In 2002 they were given the Century Farm Award from the Kansas Farm Bureau in recognition of their farm being owned for over 100 years by the same family. After 50 years of farm life Deryl and Wilda retired in 2003 and moved to a new home in Alton.

Carswell Wilda & Deryl Century Farm Certificate 2002

Carswell Farm Auction Hays Daily News 18 April 2004 Pg. 31

When she was 11-12 years old Wilda became a member of the Sumner 4-H Club and remained a member for seven years. Her four children followed in her footsteps and became members in their turn. Wilda and Deryl became 4-H leaders for a short time after they were married, and over the next several years Wilda continued as either a project or community leader. Eventually she earned her 35-year 4-H leadership pin, a rare and amazing accomplishment. Wilda considers her love of working with youth to be the highlight of her 4-H leadership years. Sumner 4-H celebrated their 50-year anniversary while she was a leader. The club has received many awards and contributed much back to the community over the years and remains active in the Alton area in the present day.

The Osborne County Fair is always a highlight of the 4-H year. Wilda exhibited at the fair when she was a young 4-H member and has continued to do so every year since then. She still works the Fair annually by helping with the Open Class Culinary Department. Wilda has entered exhibits in the Kansas State Fair through the years as well, winning a ribbon for her jelly collection.

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Osborne County Farmer

July 16, 2015

Carswell named Grand Marshal of Fair Parade

The Osborne County Fair Board has named Wilda Carswell this year’s grand marshal for the 2015 parade that will take place at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 24.

Wilda, a lifelong resident of the Alton area, takes great pride in her community. She herself was a 4-Her with the Sumner 4-H Club growing up, which her four children later became members of themselves and two of her granddaughters are members of now.

Wilda has hardly missed an Osborne County Fair since it began and still helps each year with the open class entries. She is also a civic leader, having participated in numerous organizations and boards and still finds time each Wednesday morning to have coffee with the residents and staff at Progressive Care.

Most recently Wilda celebrated her 80th birth­day in early May with an open house hosted by her four children and their spouses, Donita (Rod) Shike, Janel (Alan) Burch, Darwin (Denise) and Jay (Paula) Carswell along with most of her 12 grand­children and five great grandchildren.

An avid supporter of many organizations, Wilda can also be found attend­ing many of her grandchil­dren’s activities. As this year’s grand marshal, the roles will be reversed as they show their support for her and encourage everyone to come to the Osborne County fair and parade, July 22-27.

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For many years Wilda has been a supporter of the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service – or K-State Research and Extension for short. She was a member of the Willow Dale Extension Homemakers Unit and has served on the Osborne County Extension Council both as a director and as council president.

Since 1970 the Kansas PRIDE program, a volunteer grassroots effort to improve the quality of life in local communities, has been a partnership between the Kansas Department of Commerce, K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Masons, and private sector companies and associations which operate in Kansas. The Alton PRIDE Committee was formed in 1985 and has long been a vital part of the community. Wilda was a charter member of Alton PRIDE and in 2017 is serving her 23rd year as its president. She has also served on the State PRIDE Board of Directors.

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Alton to Celebrate its Summer Jubilee

by Joy Leiker

Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas

August 22, 2002 – Page One

ALTON – When a group of Alton residents worked to form the community’s PRIDE organization 17 years ago, they pledged to keep their rural community alive with events and celebrations.

This weekend the group will host its annual Summer Jubilee, an event that Wilda Carswell, the organization’s president, says is an occasion for more than just those in the small Osborne County community to celebrate.

“People are pretty excited about it anymore,” she said. “We get good support from the area around us.”

Their tactics to attract regional attention apparently work, as Carswell estimates as many as 1,500 people come through the community during some point of the festivities.

For a community that numbers 117 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, welcoming a crowd more than 10 times its size definitely is a big deal, Carswell said. The Jubilee’s entertainment events are scheduled throughout the day Saturday. Each year the Jubilee is focused on a daylong theme, and this year organizers centered their attention on “Family Pride.” As a result, the local community hall will be transformed into a family pride gallery of photos and collectibles that showcase the history of families. The collection Includes mostly photos, but also items “that people are proud of,” she said. But organizers prefer to change more than just the theme of the event each year. As a result, every Jubilee includes at least one new attraction or event on the schedule “so it keeps interest going.”

This year residents submitted photos for the community’s first photography contest. Winning entries will be labeled and on display this weekend. Another new event, organized specifically for the youngest Jubilee participants, is Kiddyland, an area full of carnival games and other child-friendly events. Kiddyland will open at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the northeast corner of Alton City Park.

Pending no emergency calls, the new Eagle Med helicopter plans to land at the Alton-Osborne Junior High School football field, and the Osborne County Rural Rescue and Ambulance Services will execute a Jaws of Life demonstration.

Carswell said there are some events organizers wouldn’t dream of changing. Hundreds of visitors line Mill Street in Alton for the 10:30 a.m. parade Saturday, a regular event for the annual Jubilee. The parade – the official kickoff to the annual Jubilee – typically includes 130 entries. Although reservations for the parade don’t number 100 yet, Carswell said there are many regular participants who are notorious for showing up even without a reservation.

Immediately after the parade, Alton alumnus Ray Kurtz, a retired Kansas State University instructor, will talk about his family pride and boyhood in Osborne County. His presentation will precede the announcement of the parade’s winning entries.

This year a silent auction will replace the regular oral auction, and Carswell said organizers hope the new format not only allows more people to participate but also raises more funds for the community. All proceeds from the auction “go back into community improvement.” The silent auction features both handmade and donated items and runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Events are scheduled throughout the day. Local musicians will perform half-hour shows in the park during the afternoon, and other organizations will sponsor activities as well. The Bull City Roughriders, a local saddle club, will coordinate horse games for riders, and the Osborne County Rural Fire District sponsors a lunch stand as well as a 9 p.m. Saturday street dance.

The Bull City Opry group will present its annual entertainment at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the tennis court. This year, it’s entitled “Family Feud Weddin.” There is no charge for the event, but Carswell said the group will accept contributions.

A community church service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday under the tent in the park officially closes the celebration weekend. The Reverend Richard Taylor, a retired United Methodist minister from Topeka, will be the featured speaker during the non-denominational service. Taylor was instrumental in preserving a Woodston area barn that later was destroyed by fire caused by lightning.

While the daylong event is sponsored by the PRIDE group, Carswell said its annual success is dependent on the work of other local entities.

“We sponsor it, but there are other groups that do a lot of these things too,” she said.

A complete schedule for the Alton Summer Jubilee is available online at: skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Alton/ Jubilee2002.html.

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Russell Stover Cousin finds History in Alton

by Jeremy Shapiro

Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas

December 8, 2002, Page 3

ALTON – The seventh cousin twice removed of Russell Stover looked right at home digging his fork into a big piece of chocolate pie. After all, Don Harless was practically family at the second annual Chocolate Festival here Saturday.

The town of 117 residents decided to throw a little bash for its most famous native son, Russell Stover. A long table full of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake and chocolate muffins were among the goodies to choose from. Chocolate lovers had a hard time picking what to chose. In the end, many bought more than they intended to.

“The table was just covered with chocolate at the beginning,” said Sally Bradley, a PRIDE member helping out. “It was a sight. We didn’t have enough room.”

The festival seemed a little more official with the presence of Harless. A friend of Harless in Ness City gave him an article on the festival published in the Kansas Governor’s Journal, and they decided to make the trip. Harless, 65 wasn’t aware of the link to Stover until his wife started researching family history a few years ago. Further research revealed that he also happens to be a distant cousin of Daniel Boone.

“When you really start getting looking into the history, you realize we all are brothers, sisters and cousins,” Harless said.

Harless was given a tour of the property his kin lived in the first two years of his life. Although the house is no longer there, a sign commemorates the birthplace.

“It was nice to walk the same ground as him,” Harless said. “This is family history.”

Russell Stover was born May 6, 1888, in a sod farmhouse approximately 10 miles south of Alton. Stover’s father, John, moved to Alton from Iowa in search of fortune. He purchased some farmland in Osborne County for $1,500. Devastating drought forced John to move back to Iowa three years later.

While the Stover candy empire started in a small shop in Denver, Alton residents are proud to call their town his birthplace.

Wilda Carswell, PRIDE president, said that for many years they had the idea of creating a chocolate festival, but they never set it into motion until last year. Once the idea became a reality, the town came together to support it, Carswell said.

Many of the baked goods for sale also were entered in a cookie contest. This year 39 adults and nine kids turned in entries, hoping to win a $25 first prize.

Nadine Sigle, the Osborne County Home Economics Extension agent, and Marion Gier, a home economics teacher in Downs, had the job of judging best cookie.

Sigle and Gier took their duties seriously. They looked at the attractiveness, flavor, texture and ingredients. Gier said fresh ingredients will gain better marks. Sigle said they don’t overlook the size of the cookie either. Super rich cookies should be in smaller portions, they said.

Contestants must provide the recipe along with the cookie. Sigle and Gier carefully examined a recipe before dividing up what appeared to be oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Each took a bite and they then huddled to discuss it.

Meanwhile, about the only non-chocolate lover in the room was musician Leland Baxa. Baxa serenaded the crowd with Christmas tunes on his keyboard. When asked if he had any chocolate related music, Baxa said he was wondering what kind of music goes well with chocolate.

“Actually though, I’m not a big chocolate fan, but I know I can’t say that too loud,” he said softly, Carswell said she heard a couple of other towns holding chocolate festivals close to Valentine’s Day, but as far as she knew there wasn’t another one tied in with the Christmas season.

The Alton gift basket store was also open, with handcrafted items made by area crafters.

State Representative Dan Johnson, Republican-Hays, took the opportunity to buy a few Christmas presents. He said he was impressed with all the local talent who made the crafts and baked goods.

Russell Stover Candles of Kansas City sent 192 small boxes of chocolates in Santa tins to distribute at the festival.

“Maybe next year we can get a representative to come out,” Carswell said. “I don’t think they knew what we were doing.”

Inevitably the conversation eventually turned toward Stover himself.

Carswell said one thing she liked about Stover is he would continually try to find new products.

“Yes he was rich and famous, but he didn’t rest,” she said. “Not many people know he was the founder of Eskimo Pies. He later sold it off, but he was always looking for new products.”

*  *  *  *  *

Wilda joined the United Methodist Church when a young girl and has attended regularly ever since. In the past she has served as Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Director of Bible School, Trustee, and President of Administrative Council. Wilda currently serves on the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, works with the annual Christmas program and the quilting group, and serves as a lay leader. She has been very involved in the United Methodist Women (UMW), having served on various committees and as treasurer, vice-president, and currently as president. Wilda served as the secretary of the Concordia District of UMW for four years and the Kansas West UMW Conference Membership, Nurture & Outreach Co-ordinator for three years. Her favorite Bible verse is I Corinthians 13:13:

There are three things that

remain – faith, hope, and love,

and the greatest of these is love.

From 1979 to 1987 Wilda served on the USD #392 School Board, serving one year as its president. After her move to Alton in 2003 Wilda was elected to the Alton City Council and served there for over ten years. In 2006 she was honored with the Homer E. Smuck Cultural Award for her lifetime of community service. A decade later Wilda was awarded the first Faye Minium Spirit Award by the Solomon Valley/Highway 24 Heritage Alliance.

Wilda has lived her entire life in the three adjoining townships of northwest Osborne County – Hawkeye, Grant, and Sumner. She is known for her cooking, canning, sewing, and yard/gardening. Wilda’s hobbies include quilting, reading, sports events, and traveling. She especially likes tour groups for travel and in her journeys has seen most of the United States. And Wilda is of course a proud supporter of her grandchildren’s many activities.

Wilda continues to give of her time, talents, and service to the Alton community and to Osborne County. In 2017 the Deryl Carswell Family was one of the 28 founders of the Osborne County Community Foundation, a vehicle for charitable giving capable of benefiting the entire county. It is our pleasure to honor her and her example with this well-deserved induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Carswell Wilda Birthday
Wilda and her family, gathered to help her celebrate a recent birthday.

*  *  *  *  *

History of Alton PRIDE

(compiled by Deanna Roach, May 2017)

In 1925 a group of local Alton ladies saw the need for a city park and through their initiative volunteers came forward to clear donated lots in the center of town. Thus, the Alton City Park was born.

The successful park ladies of 1925 had their mothers to look to for inspiration, for it was the generation of women before them that formed the Alton Library Association in 1898. From their efforts, a library building was voluntarily staffed from 1900 until 1966.

In 1983, a new generation of Alton women took a look at the City Park and didn’t like what they saw: overgrown weeds and stickers, dead trees and broken down playground equipment. After nearly 60 years of wear and tear, the park was clearly showing its age.

These women formed a group and came up with what they called an “idea” to improve the park, which was carried out by volunteers. The group stayed focused on the park and before long they were encouraged by the Osborne County Home Economist to join the Kansas PRIDE Program.

In 1983 and 1984 this unofficial group of women hosted an annual community wide “play day” that took place in the newly renovated park.

In 1985 the initial group of nine women officially organized into “Alton PRIDE” and held their first annual Alton Summer Jubilee. Of those nine women, three have remained active PRIDE members, three are still involved on a part-time basis, and three have moved away. Several other women and men in the community have also been PRIDE members for many, many years.

In 1986, Alton PRIDE joined the Central Kansas Library System and created a space for books to be brought into the community on a rotational basis. The library space changed over the years until it was finally permanently housed in the Alton Community Room Annex. Since 2009, the Alton Library has had an “official” volunteer librarian, Dorothy Mitchell, who was recognized as a 2013 Kansas PRIDE Community Partner. The library is open every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. and has “regulars” that come in every week.

Alton PRIDE’s State Award Trophies:

Community of Excellence: 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

Star Awards (for special projects): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

[Awards listed above always came with a monetary prize. The state PRIDE program changed their awards program after 2009 and did not give out community awards until 2013.]

Community of Excellence: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Cultural Star Capital Award: 2013, 2014

Built Capital Award: PRIDE has won three of these. One is for 2012 and another trophy is undated, while the third award was earned in 2017.

*  *  *  *  *

Osborne County Farmer, January 20, 2000

Working with the System

by Sandra Trail

Deryl and Wilda Carswell can’t imagine doing anything but what they are doing – farming. Not only can Deryl not imag­ine doing anything else, he can’t imagine doing it any other place. In fact, he’s never lived any other place.

“Grandpa bought this place and built this house in 1900,” Deryl explains. “When Wilda and I got married in 1953, my folks moved to town and we moved in.

“It’s just never entered my mind to do anything else. I like the challenges and trying new things. And, you are your own decision maker – sometimes with the government.”

It’s just this cooperative attitude towards government programs that earned Carswell this year’s Goodyear Co-Opera­tor of the Year Award, which is awarded by the Osborne County Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Carswells have a diver­sified operation. They have livestock and feed their own grain  – wheat, corn and milo. Most of the corn they raise is irrigated, but they have put out some dryland recently.

At the same time, the Carswells have stopped raising hogs and now concentrate on cattle in their livestock opera­tion.

To help get the most out of each area of their operation, the Carswells have used a variety of programs to accom­plish beneficial conservation efforts.

In recent years, much of the work has been taken over by the Carswells’ sons, Darwin and Jay.

“That means Dad gets to help out whenever they need him,” explained Deryl.

It also means he and Wilda will get to travel a little more. They’ve taken trips in the past with Pioneer Seed groups and may do more of that now. Deryl has been a Pioneer Seed dealer for 38 years.

Deryl and Wilda have also been active in their commu­nity. Deryl currently serves on the Grant Township board and has served on the church board, Farm Bureau board and as a leader for Sumner 4-H. He never served on the Alton Fire District board, but was active in the organizational effort and is a supporter of the district.

Wilda also served 35 years as a Sumner 4-H Community Leader, has been on the Os­borne County Extension Coun­cil and served on the PRIDE board.

Both feel community ser­vice is important and hope it is an ideal they have passed on to the young people they have been around.

In addition to their sons, the Carswells have two daughters: Donita Berkley and her hus­band farm at Tescott and Janet Burch, Hays, is a CPA. They also have 11 grandchildren.

*  *  *  *  *

HANDKERCHIEF QUILT CRAZE

by Carolyn Williams

September 24, 2008

“You won the door prize, Dorothy!” The other Dorothy (Dibble) exclaimed as Dorothy Mitchell’s name was drawn at the Crossroads Quitter’s Guild Quilt Show in Stockton last year. Her prize? A Free Machine Quilting on a quilt of her choice within the next year. What a gift!

Although Dorothy Mitchell was new to the Alton community, having come from Granite City, Illinois just the year before to live closer to her niece, Mary Hartzler, she was not new to quilting. She had been involved in quilting bees and helped organize shows since she retired from teaching Physical Education in the Granite City area some 30 years previous. This was a real challenge to her. When she moved to Alton she had cleaned out many unnecessary items in her home, but she had kept the handkerchiefs her mother had passed on to her, thinking to make something as a memorial to Josephine Sharleiville Mitchell, her mother.

With the help of the other Dorothy, Dorothy Dibble, from the Quilting Bee held every Monday afternoon at the Alton United Methodist Church Dorothy’s quilt came together beautifully. Dorothy M chose the fabrics, and Dorothy D sewed the handkerchiefs exactly where they would be showcased the best. Dorothy Dibble “got the bug” to make her own quilt. Quilting is not new to her either. When her husband Everett was serving in WWII, she began a quilt, getting only so far as making quilt blocks. When he returned from the service and their children began arriving, sewing garments for the family took precedence. It was only much later when Dorothy found those early quilt blocks that she decided to do something with them. However, time and temperature had made the fabric weak. When she washed them in preparation to finish the project, they fell apart!

That really peaked her interest in making her own. She too, had many handkerchiefs from her mother’s and her own drawers to choose from. Instead of using only one handkerchief per square, she used two at diagonals from each other – thus a Double Handkerchief Quilt. She exhibited that quilt at the Rooks County Fair this year.

Not to be outdone, Wilda Carswell decided to compose two quilts­ – she has two daughters! The first quilt she exhibited at the Osborne County Fair, July 22-25. She was awarded the quilt with the best use of color by the Solomon Valley Quilt Guild which meets in Downs every month. She, too, made a double handkerchief quilt since she had so many from both her “stash” and from her mother Ruth Stockbridge’s “stash” as well.

Many of her handkerchiefs came as a result of a near tragic accident. In 1943 the young mother Ruth was riding with her daughter Wilda on her boy’s bicycle when a truck hit them. Ruth was badly injured with broken bones. To comfort the young mother, many in the community sent her Get Well cards with a handkerchief enclosed. Many of those handkerchiefs found their way into the two quilts Wilda made last winter. The quilt she exhibited at the fair is now hanging in her 100-year-old mother Ruth’s room at Progressive Care in Alton. The second quilt is made with the same color sashing and backing using the remainder of the handkerchiefs from that unfortunate period in the lives of her and her mother.

When we quilt together at the Alton UMC, new and exciting ideas seem to come bouncing into our fingers and into our brains. Maybe more Handkerchief Quilts will result from that first quilting prize!

Church ladies and Quilting seem to just go together, don’t they? It’s certainly been that way in Alton for the last 60-70 years. I visited with some of the quitters lately as we worked on a quilt for Zane Alan Poor, the latest baby in the area. Doris Holloway gave me some information that seems to validate the above statement.

She told me that every church in Alton at one time or another had a ladies quilt group that met in the church basement. The former Evangelical United Brethren, previously the Congregational Church had an active group of 12 or 13. When that church merged in 1967 with the Alton Methodist Church to become the United Methodist Church of Alton, the groups continued as one, with some continuing and others going on to other ventures. The UMC ladies continue to meet and quilt as they have quilts scheduled.

The names of the quitters have changed over the years. One of the ladies, Ruth Guttery, has moved away, so Dorothy Dibble keeps us organized and quilting. Others have not continued due to health, arthritis being one of the culprits that keeps us from quilting like we’d like to; other ladies have passed on their abilities to daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters. Others have simply passed on and we remember them with little short stories about their “quilting quirks”, such as, “So-and-so always sits there, you need to sit somewhere else.” One day as I was threading a needle directly from the spool, the thread suddenly disappeared! Another person had picked up the spool to cut her length before she threaded it! We laughed and vowed to remember the “quirks.

The UMC ladies have completed some of the local PRIDE quilts. New ladies in town such as Dorothy Mitchell, a new resident, are welcomed to the quilt frame. Others join when they retire and begin their own quilting adventures. A break time about two hours into the session always brings out something new, either homemade or purchased snack with tea or coffee.

My first adventure with the Alton UMC quitters was helping to set up the first quilt I made as a wedding present for a granddaughter, whoever married first. I found out that I had not measured correctly, so had to add material to the backing to fit the top. Luckily, Ruth Guttery had come prepared for this novice with her sewing machine and iron. I was able to sew right there, press it, and help to set it up on the quilting frame. Now, I think I know a bit more as I prepare to help set in the next granddaughter’s wedding present. I say laughingly that the unmarried ones will be old maids if they wait for me to complete one for each of them!

Nowadays, the quilt guilds have begun to take over the quilting bees that the church ladies of not-so-long-ago held. Even the quilting is different! The advent of machine quilting has begun to eliminate the camaraderie of the many Monday afternoons quilting in the church basement.

Regardless, one of the missions of the church basement is always to have room for the quilt frame and the ladies who stitch the history of Alton.

*  *  *  *  *

SOURCES: Wilda Carswell, Alton, Kansas; Deanna Roach, Alton, Kansas; Carolyn Williams, Alton, Kansas; Hays Daily News, August 22, 2002; Hays Daily News, December 8, 2002; Osborne County Farmer, October 13, 1938, Page 6; Osborne County Farmer, June 26, 1947, Page 6; Osborne County Farmer, January 20, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, July 16, 2015; Salina Journal, October 14, 1956.

*  *  *  *  *

Orville Leon and Betty Joy (Zweifel) Pruter – 2016 Inductees

(On this date, November 23, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fifth and last members of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

 

Our final two Osborne County Hall of Fame inductees join an exclusive club. This humble husband and wife team has the rare honor of being the 27th and 28th people to be voted into the Hall while still living. Their story reflects the often surprising amount of personal impact that each one of us has in so many ways on so many others in the course of our lives, be it through school, church, government, or community affairs; i.e., in every aspect of living in today’s world. They have been—and are—community leaders in every true sense of the phrase.

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Orville Pruter, senior year photograph, Natoma High School Class of 1953.

Our husband and father, Orville Leon Pruter, was born November 17, 1935 at Natoma, Osborne County, Kansas. He was the eldest son of Alvin and Yvonne (Goad) Pruter, who had two more sons, Ivan and Keith. Orville grew up on the family farm located three miles north of Natoma. He attended all of his schooling in Natoma, except his junior year of high school when he attended Miltonvale High School and Miltonvale Wesleyan College in Miltonvale, Kansas. He came back to Natoma for his senior year and graduated with the class of 1953. After graduating Orville went to work helping area farmers and working in the oil fields surrounding Natoma for several operators, including Oscar Rush, the Brown Brothers, and Bowman’s Well Service.

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Betty Zweifel, senior year photograph, Waldo High School Class of 1955.
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Betty when a junior on the Waldo High School Girls Basketball Team.

Our wife and mother, Betty Joy Zweifel, was born on June 26th on the family farm of Robert and Bernice (Clow) Zweifel during the hot summer of 1936, four miles south of Waldo in Russell County, Kansas. She was the eldest child of the four siblings—Betty, Barbara, Peggy, and Robert Jr. Betty attended Paradise Dell rural school her first four years. When the rural school closed Betty was enrolled in 5th grade at Waldo Elementary School and completed the rest of her early education in the Waldo school system. Betty lettered all of her grade school years and all four years of high school in basketball. She was very active in all of the school activities, be it music, drama, sports, basketball, volleyball, softball and track. Betty graduated as salutatorian of the class of 1954.

Betty was also very involved in 4-H. She was a member of the clothing judging team which placed first in the state in 1950 and was 3rd in the state in clothing judging.

 

State Clothing Judging Champion

“First place in the State 4-H Clothing Judging Contest held during the Kansas State Fair was won by the above Russell county team. They are Louise Robinson, Prospectors 4-H Club; Carl Lindquist, Smoky Valley 4-H Club; and Betty Zweifel, Paradise Dell 4-H Club.

This team had a combined total of 1,020 points out of a possible 1,200. They judged six classes pertaining to clothing design and construction principals and gave reasons for their placing on two of those classes. Individual scores for the girls were given with Betty Zweifel ranking third high in the state, Carol Lindquist was fourth and Louise Robinson ranked 20th. The girls were the three highest individuals in the Russell County judging contest, making them eligible to enter the state contest.”—Natoma Independent, October 19, 1950.

 

Betty’s cherry pie won first in the state baking contest in Manhattan in 1953. She was named a member of the state’s Who’s Who in 4-H Clubs. Betty was the only member of the Paradise Dell 4-H Club to complete her 4-H work whose parents were both charter members of the club.

After high school Betty enrolled in the nursing program at Fort Hays State College the fall of 1954, and at that time she was the only girl in her family to ever go to college. But her plans changed when she met Orville Pruter in the fall of 1954. They were married on June 5, 1955, in the Amherst Evangelical United Brethren Church south of Waldo and made their home on a farm three miles north of Natoma. Orville went to work in the oil fields and also helped his Dad on the farm. They milked cows and had a flock of chickens, and on Saturday nights they could sell the cream and eggs, buy their groceries, fill the car with gas, and go to the show.

pruter-wedding-photo-1955-bw

Zweifel – Pruter Wedding Sunday

“In a double ring ceremony Sunday afternoon, June 5th at 2:00 o’clock, Miss Betty Zweifel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Zweifel, of Waldo, was united in marriage to Orville L. Pruter, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Pruter of Natoma. The wedding took place in the Amherst Evangelical Church near Waldo with the Rev. L. W. Life of Russell officiating before an altar decorated with baskets of yellow and white gladioli and white candles.

Mrs. Kenneth Phillips, pianist, furnished the music and accompanied Miss Jane Trible of Palco who sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Through the Years”. Taper lighters were Sharon Zweifel and Marian Clow, cousins of the bride. The bridal gown, fashioned by the bride and her mother, was of white crystalette with full length tiered skirt and portrait neckline. A crown of orange blossoms held the chapel length silk illusion veil in place and a single strand of pearls completed the bride’s ensemble She carried a white Bible and French carnations with orchid and white streamers.

Miss Marilyn Zweifel, who served her cousin as maid of honor, wore a ballerina length gown of yellow crystalette fashioned like the bride’s gown and carried a bouquet of white carnations. Ivan Pruter served his brother as best man. Ushers were Everett Pruter, Jr. and Wayne Zweifel.

For her daughter’s wedding Mrs. Zweifel chose a dress of navy crystalette with a white carnation corsage. The groom’s mother wore a navy and white nylon dress with a white carnation corsage.

A reception was held in the church basement following the ceremony. The wedding cake was served by Mrs. Jack Fink of Paradise and Mrs. Charles Shaffer of Waldo poured punch.

The bride, a graduate of Waldo High school, attended one year at Fort Hays Kansas State College. The groom graduated from Natoma Rural High school with the class of 1953 and has been engaged in farming.

After a honeymoon to the Black Hills the couple will be at home on a farm north of Natoma. For their wedding trip, Mrs. Pruter chose an ensemble of avocado green with white accessories and wore an orchid corsage.”—Natoma-Luray Independent, June 9, 1955.

 

In January 1956 Betty & Orville were blessed with a little boy. Dale was the first of five boys that were born over the next seven years—Dale, Gale, Daryl, Douglas, and Kevin. A little girl was adopted, Susan Lajoy, but she passed away in July of 1965. In between babies Betty went back to college majoring in Education. In the fall of 1957 she started teaching at the Plante School South of Plainville on a 60-hour certificate. In that time they had also moved three times before settling into living north of Codell, Kansas on Medicine Creek on the Bother place. The next few years were spent raising the family and teaching, and going to college weekends and summer. Orville was working in the oil fields and farming. The Pruters moved again in January 1959 into Natoma. In August of 1960 they moved to Plainville, Kansas and Orville went to work for Western Power & Light as a lineman and continued to farm on weekends. Betty was still going to school and teaching. In August of 1963 she graduated from Fort Hays State College with a BS in Education.

Betty and Orville have been active in their church and community all of their married life. When the five boys were growing they were in charge of the youth ministry at The Church of the Nazarene in Plainville, Kansas. Besides youth ministry, they sang in the choir, directed the choir, taught Sunday School, were church treasurers for over 30 years, served on the church board, and played the organ for services. Orville was music director and lead the music for church services.

After working for the power company for fourteen years Orville and the family moved back to the Pruter family farm three miles north of Natoma in the fall of 1974. Their oldest son graduated from the Plainville High School that spring and the other four boys enrolled in the Natoma school system. Betty was hired to teach 5-8 Language Arts in the Paradise Middle School. Orville started driving the activity bus for the Natoma schools, which he did for the next twenty years.

pruter-orville-bus-driver
Orville Pruter drove the activity bus for the Natoma school system for twenty years.
pruter-betty-teacher
Betty Pruter was a longtime teacher in the Natoma/Paradise school system.

In the spring of 1998 Betty retired from teaching after 39 years. She had taught in two rural schools, the Plante School in Rooks County and the Blue Hill School in Ellis County, the Plainville Grade School, Kindergarten in Natoma, the Zurich (Kansas) Grade School, and then 24 years in the Natoma / Paradise school system. Betty is a lifetime member of both the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) and the National Teachers Association. She is also a member of the Hays Reading Association and of the Gamma Chapter of Delta Kappa Gama for Osborne and Rooks Counties.

Both Betty and Orville were longtime leaders in the Eager Beaver 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Orville served as the chairman of the Natoma Medical Board and as a member of the Osborne County Rural Water District #1 board. He ran for District #3 Osborne County Commissioner in 1996, but was unsuccessful.

 

Orville Pruter

3rd District Commissioner

“Wanting to better represent his area of the county, Orville Pruter of Natoma is seeking to represent the third district of Osborne County as a commissioner. Pruter said another reason he was seeking the position was to work on county efficiency.

Born and raised in Natoma, Pruter said he looks forward to working with the public. He also said he prided himself in getting along with others and felt that the position of commissioner would be a challenge. Pruter added he always tries to be cooperative and do what he thinks is right.

A graduate of Natoma High School, Pruter has worked in the oil fields as well as for a utility company in Plainville. Moving back to Natoma in 1974, Pruter has farmed continuously since 1955. He also operated a motor grader for the county and currently drives an activity bus for the Natoma school district, something he has done since 1975.

Pruter and his wife, Betty, are the parents of live sons. He is a member of the Plainville Church of the Nazarene and the Natoma Medical Board.

When asked what he felt was the biggest issue facing the county, Pruter replied the economy was definitely the biggest issue and said that he realized something needed to be done to help the situation.

If county valuation continues to drop, Pruter said he would look at advocating higher taxes as well as cutting budgets and programs He felt reviewing both would be necessary to determine a solution, realizing a certain amount of money is needed to maintain county efficiency.

Pruter said the current landfill situation is also another problem facing the county today.

Feeling qualified to serve as Third District County Commissioner, Pruter said that his area of the county needed more representation and he felt he was in a position to do so.

Pruter described himself as honest, caring and concerned, and that he had ‘feelings for people.’”—Osborne County Farmer, October 31, 1996.

pruter-osb-co-farmer-nov-21-1996-page-20-orville-for-commissioner
Orville Pruter ran for the District 3 Osborne County Commissioner position in 1996. 

In the summer of 2000 Betty followed Orville’s lead and ran for Osborne County Commissioner  in District #3.

 

Voters head to the polls Tuesday

Write-in candidate seeks spot on general election ballot

“The only announced write-in candidate to date is Betty Pruter, who has announced her candidacy for County Commissioner, Third District. Pruter hopes to receive enough votes as a write-in to become the Republican candidate for third district commissioner.

Pruter decided to run because she feels incumbent Jack Applegate, Democrat, needs some opposition and because she would like to see someone from Natoma on the board.

‘Sometimes, it feels like Natoma, because we are at the opposite corner of the county, is left out,’ said Pruter. ‘I know, though, that the district extends across the south and on the west to include Alton. I’d want to represent all the people in the district and will listen to all my constituents and do my best to represent everyone.’

Pruter is in favor of better roads and equal law enforcement in parts of the county. Specifically, she would like to see a deputy stationed in Natoma. The current deputy that serves that part of the county lives north of Luray.

She also feels that the health and extension departments need to be expanded. ‘I know that costs money, but ‘where there is a will, there’s a way.’

Pruter is not In favor of cutting the budget, but does think the funds might be better allocated.

“We need to study the budget and find a different way of using our resources.” she said. “I also think women have a different way of looking at things and maybe we need a women’s viewpoint to find the answers to some of these problems.”

Pruter is adamant about the need to pay closer attention to government mandates. She doesn’t think the county can afford to ignore them or lag in coming into compliance.

“Most of the time, they are for the benefit and safety of the public,” she said. “Sometimes it’s good to be on the ground floor, rather than waiting.”

Pruter was born and raised south of Waldo and has lived in the Natoma area most of her married life. She is a retired school teacher who still substitutes and is an active farm partner with her husband, Orville.

She is the mother of five boys and has 14 grandchildren. One son is an educator in Holcomb, Kansas, another runs the At Risk program in Syracuse, Kansas, another teaches Tae Kwan Do in Blue Springs, Missouri; one has just returned to the area to farm; and the fifth is employed by the county.”—Osborne County Farmer, July 27, 2000.

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Betty earned the right to be on the county ballet in November 2000 as a write-in candidate. And she won! In doing so Betty became only the second woman to ever be elected an Osborne County Commissioner. She set another record by being the first woman to ever complete a four-year term as Commissioner, and broke the glass ceiling in 2004 when she was re-elected to a second term—the only woman to achieve this in the 132 years of Osborne County history up to that time.

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Betty Pruter (second from left) was one of the seven duly elected Osborne County officials to take the oath of office in January 2001.

As commissioner Betty was instrumental in getting the official 911 directional signage for roads in rural Osborne County and served on numerous regional committees and boards. She was the county delegate to the Northwest Kansas Planning and Development Commission at Hill City, Kansas, and to the Solomon Valley Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council. The RC&D is a unique program led by local volunteer councils and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The purpose of an RC&D is to address local concerns and to promote conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources; improve the general level of economic activity; and enhance the environment and standard of living in all communities in the council’s designated region. Betty was a founding member of the Solomon Valley RC&D Council in 2002 and worked tirelessly to help the organization receive authorization with the Natural Recourses Conservation Services (NRCS).

Betty attended the Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. in February, 2003. She served on the Solomon Valley RC&D Council as Vice-President and was a voting Council member representing the Osborne County Advisory Committee. Her leadership was proven valuable on several RC&D projects, including the Regional Geographic information System (GIS) meeting, Natoma Grade School Playground Renovation, Osborne County Courthouse Celebration, Farm With the Family Workshop and Osborne County Career Fairs. Both Betty and Orville represented the RC&D at many local, regional, and state events. Betty was inducted into the Solomon Valley RC&D Hall Of Fame on February 10, 2009.

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Gary Doane and Orville Pruter getting the beans ready for the public feast at the Osborne County Courthouse Centennial Celebration in the fall of 2007.

“It was a privilege for me to work with Betty while we served together as Osborne County Commissioners. I enjoyed getting acquainted with Orville at that time as well. They have a special place in their hearts for preserving the traditions and historical values of our county, and passing along a great heritage to the next generation. Betty and Orville have served Osborne County and their community in many capacities. They have been and continue to be true servant leaders where God has placed them. Congratulations, Betty and Orville, on your election to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.”—Gary Doane, Osborne County Commissioner, 2004-2008.

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The Osborne County Commission in session in the Osborne County Courthouse, Osborne, Kansas in June 2007. From left to right: Bryan Byrd, Osborne; Gary Doane, Downs; and Betty Pruter, Natoma.

Both Betty and Orville have been members of the Natoma Community Center committee and helped with many Kansas Day annual programs—often baking bread and churning butter, among other activities. In 1990 Betty began working with the Osborne County Literacy Center. In 2002 she was appointed to the Osborne County Advisory Board and in 2003 she served on the board for the Osborne County Coalition. Beginning in 2004 Betty served on the board of directors for Osborne County Growth and Preservation, Inc. and in 2005 on the board for the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation.

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Betty and Orville Pruter worked the Osborne County information booth at a number of Kansas Sampler Festivals over the years.

From 2000 to 2010 Orville and Betty were active members of Osborne County Tourism, Inc. and the Northwest Kansas Tourism Council. They became members of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and attended the annual Kansas Sampler Festivals held across the state, helping to set up and man the Osborne County booth. While at the Sampler Festival they handed out brochures and informed people about the many things to see and do in Osborne County and what a great place it is to live. In 2006 Betty received a Special Service Award for recognition of her longterm efforts to promote tourism to the region.

 

Kansas Bankers Association Conservation Award Winners

Windbreak Awards

Orville and Betty Pruter

Gale and Teresa Pruter

“The first 2004 windbreak award is to be presented to Orville and Betty Pruter and Gale and Teresa Pruter around the farmstead, near Natoma, that is occupied by Gale, Teresa and family. The windbreak is made up of four rows of trees. The inside row contains 196 lilacs, the two inside rows have 245 eastern red cedars, and the outside deciduous row is made up of 65 hackberry [trees].

They also installed 4,000 feet of weed barrier fabric. This windbreak was planted in 1995 and now protects the area around the farmstead and machine shed. Cost share assistance was received by the Pruters through the State Water Resources Cost-share Program.

The Pruters have done an excellent job of maintaining the windbreak and have had a good survival rate of the trees.”—Downs News and Times, January 13, 2005.

In 2009 Betty and Orville were honored by receiving a Century Farm Award for the Pruter family farm located north of Natoma, recognizing their longterm family commitment to farming there for one hundred years. That same year they moved back to live on the farm and are the third generation to do so. The farm’s big barn is notable in itself, as it replaced an earlier barn destroyed by a tornado on May 21, 1918. This new barn was built with the innovative “no-sag roof” concept invented by local architect and fellow Osborne County Hall of Famer Louis Beisner and is an outstanding example of Beisner’s ground-breaking architectural style.

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Two photos of Orville Pruter at work on the Pruter farm, utilizing old and new equipment to earn a living amid the ever-changing farming trends. Above can be seen the historic Pruter Barn in the background. The barn was built in 1918 and is a rare early example of the “no-sag” roof concept, in which the roof is held up by interlocking braces along the inside of the roof rather than by vertical columns down the middle of the hay loft. This architectural breakthrough is now a basic component in all large building architecture everywhere.

In 2011 Betty Pruter and Linda Sharits started working on creating a library for the city of Natoma. With the help many volunteers the library has grown to be the meeting place for the community, and in 2016 it officially became the Natoma Public Library under the administration of the city. Betty and Orville are also active in the Heritage Seekers Organization, a all-volunteer community group that was given the Polhman building in Natoma by the Polhman family (also Osborne County Hall of Famers) and in which they have established the Pohlman Heritage Museum.

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Orville Pruter (second from left) rides on one of the many floats that the Natoma Heritage Seekers organization has entered in the annual Natoma Labor Day Parade over the years. 

On May 29, 2005, Betty and Orville celebrated their golden anniversary of marriage. They remain active in the community and region. They are in charge of the government food commodity program, and both are on the board of the Northwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging. Betty is the clerk of Round Mound Township and is a member of the Silver Haired Legislature, representing Osborne County. They keep busy with community activities, volunteering at the library and museum, and helping their son care for the family farm.

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Betty Pruter demonstrates making homemade bread.
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In January 2016 Betty Pruter helped the kids at Natoma Grade School learn how to make butter and homemade bread. 
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The Orville and Betty Pruter family.

It is our pleasure to welcome such worthy additions into the Osborne County Hall of Fame. Betty and Orville Pruter, enjoy the parade of acclamations. You have earned them.

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County Wide Objectives Chosen

“The Osborne County Chairperson of Osborne County Growth and Preservation, Inc., Betty Pruter, is inviting all interested citizens of Osborne County to a meeting on Friday, June 11, in the Osborne Carnegie Library at 7:30PM to choose two county objectives be accomplished between July and December 2004. At this meeting the two objectives that were to be completed between January and June will also be evaluated.

At this meeting the Osborne County Strategic Plan will be reviewed and revised as needed. We welcome new ideas and cordially invite all citizens interested in the common good of Osborne County to attend this meeting. ‘We in 2003’ has proven that we can make good things happen.

Help us fulfill the ‘More in 2004’ motto by becoming an active participant with us in these endeavors.”—Osborne County Farmer, June 10, 2004.

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Kansas Blue Hills Foundation Comes to County

“Something new has come to Osborne County! Five people have united their hearts and their talents to create the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation. Their mission is to secure the Future of Osborne County for those who live here, for those who are planning to return, and for those who are making Osborne County their new home. It is doable! It can be done!

The Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, county-wide organization authorized by the IRS to receive tax deductible contributions from individuals, families, businesses, corporations and other foundations. Three of the five foundation organizers attended Dr. Don Udell’s three-day Foundation Workshop and all five attended his nine-day Grant Writing Workshop.

The foundation’s founding five board members believe that there is a pool of human resources in Osborne County which can be shaped into a dynamic force that will reverse the economic and cultural downturn experienced in these past decades. The Foundation will be the vehicle to train and empower local leaders, establish permanent endowment that will endure forever, and generate and achieve a new vision or progress and prosperity for Osborne County.

Over the past twenty years there has been a significant outmigration from rural America to the metropolitan areas of the country. During these same years rural Kansas, Osborne County has seen (1) a massive transfer or wealth out of the county, (2) dramatic cuts in programs funded by the Federal and State governments, and (3) growing percentage or the population becoming sixty-five years of age or older.

These are sobering realities, and unfortunately many residents have come to believe that the county’s decline in population, jobs, economic opportunity, and quality of life is irreversible. This pessimism is destructive to the county in general and to the residents individually. It is our conviction that the people of this county can find the hope, energy, courage and the resources required to reverse this damaging attitude.

Now is not the time to be passive! We must awaken the same pioneering spirit that permitted our ancestors to overcome the obstacles they faced when they settled this county.

The Kansas Blue Hills Foundation governing board members are dedicated to improving the communities in which they live. The board members are: Carolyn Williams, Alton, who is very active in the Bohemian Cultural Center and restaurant enterprise and a former school teacher; Frances Meyers, Downs, who is an IRS agent and eBay entrepreneur; Betty Pruter, Natoma, who is a partner on the family farm, former teacher and currently serves as a County Commissioner; Laura McClure, Osborne, who is a former State Representative, worked as Economic Development Director for the City of Osborne, and is the President of the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation; Dr. Joe Hubbard, the member at-large, is a former Arizona State Director of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and for twenty years owned/managed a private 501 (c)(3) counseling organization.

Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is currently requesting contributions from individuals, businesses, and other foundations to make securing the future a reality in Osborne County. The Foundation Board is embarking on a three year Capital Campaign Drive. The goal is to raise three million five hundred thousand dollars in the next three yean. Three million will be used to establish a permanent endowment fund for Osborne County, and the remainder will be used as seed money in the foundation’s nine Fields of Interest as well as for administrative costs.

Over the next ten years, billions of dollars will transfer out of Osborne County due to (1) the death of residents whose relatives live outside of the county, (2) businesses closing with no successor, and (3) the out-migration of our youth. A major reason for establishing a County-Wide Endowment Fund is to retain some of this wealth within Osborne County. Donors will have the opportunity to give to this endowment fund through estate planning, memorials, and gifts. Contributions to the foundation are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

As this endowment fund grows, the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation will distribute the earnings in the form of grants to qualified applicants living in or serving Osborne County. Grants will be made in the Foundation’s nine Fields of Interest which are: (1) Community Development, (2) Economic Development, (3) Rural Development. (4) Arts and Culture, (5) Education, (6) Environment, (7) Health, (8) Recreation, and (9) Religion. These Fields of Interest provide donors with a wide variety of program-areas they may wish to sustain.

The mission of the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is: ‘To be an innovative leader in supporting and promoting activities in Osborne County, that foster economic, social and spiritual growth by empowering individuals, businesses, organizations and government entities.’

We invite you to participate with us in this challenging and rewarding endeavor.”—by Laura McClure, Downs News and Times, March 24, 2005.

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SOURCES:  Betty & Orville Pruter, Natoma, Kansas; Gary Doane, Downs, Kansas; Laura McClure, Osborne, Kansas; Della Richmond, Natoma, Kansas; Von Rothenberger, Lucas, Kansas; Carolyn Schultz, Lucas, Kansas; Natoma Independent, October 19, 1950; Natoma-Luray Independent, June 9, 1955; Natoma-Luray Independent, July 7, 1955; Natoma-Luray Independent, October 17, 1957; Natoma-Luray Independent, January 8, 1959; Natoma-Luray Independent, August 4, 1960; Osborne County Farmer, April 28, 1988; Osborne County Farmer, October 31, 1996; Osborne County Farmer, July 27, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, August 10, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, November 16, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, January 11, 2001; Osborne County Farmer, March 13, 2003; Osborne County Farmer, June 10, 2004; Osborne County Farmer, January 13, 2005; Downs News and Times, January 13, 2005; Downs News and Times, March 24, 2005; Osborne County Farmer, May 26, 2005; Downs News and Times, March 7, 2006; Osborne County Farmer; March 5, 2009; Osborne County Farmer, June 11, 2009.

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Alice Gannette (Dimond) Young – 1996 Inductee

Alice Gannette (Dimond) Young was a noted temperance worker and devout member of the Methodist Church from the earliest days of the Downs community’s existence.  She also was editor of the state Women’s Christian Temperance Union publication, Our Messenger, for almost two decades.

As a young woman, Alice Dimond experienced many of the events of the Civil War era during her early years in Pennsylvania and New York State, and later in Kansas.  The youngest of seven children born to James H. and Harriet (Fifield) Dimond, Alice was born at President, Pennsylvania, on April 25, 1849, and later moved with her family to New York State.  They soon returned to Pennsylvania and she graduated from Edenborough Academy, after which she then taught school in New York State.  Her future husband, Francis Asbury Dighton Young, came to Osborne County in 1871 and homesteaded southeast of where Downs later was founded.  He built a house and broke a few acres of sod, then returned east and he and Alice were married on December 12, 1871 at Stockton, New York.  To this union one daughter was born.

They came west in the spring of 1872, accompanied by her brother, William W. Dimond, and his wife Susan.  Their new dwelling was known as a Christian home where prayer and official meetings occurred.  In the late 1870s, Alice and Dighton took an active part in a campaign to prohibit the drinking of alcohol.  The Oak Dale schoolhouse was the center of this temperance movement.  When Downs was established in 1879, the Youngs sold some of their land southeast of town, at prices below its worth, to aid the town’s expansion.

Alice became editor of Our Messenger in 1903 and continued in that position, with only a few years off, until ill health forced her to resign in 1919.  During her years as editor of this temperance publication, she wielded a powerful influence for good throughout Kansas.  The paper enjoyed a prestige that made it a popular periodical and a welcome monthly visitor to the homes of its readers.  Alice was a brilliant writer and speaker, as evidenced by her speech at an Old Settlers Reunion near Dispatch, Kansas, in 1900.

Alice died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Hattie Foote, in Downs on November 13, 1922.  At that time, it was written that “Kansas owes as much to her memory for state prohibition as to any other person.”  She was laid to rest in the Downs Cemetery.

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“In 1871 when Kansas was offering landed estates to all who cared to come to her vastless prairies, F. A. D. Young homesteaded a quarter section in Ross Township, Osborne County, and after erecting a house and putting a few acres under cultivation, returned to Pennsylvania and married Miss Alice G. Dimond, a youthful school teacher.  In the spring of 1872 the young couple, full of life and courage, made the long journey to the western border home.  From the very beginning the Dighton Young abode was known as a Christian home and was honored with prayer and official meetings.  With the discouraging scourge of drouth, grasshoppers and prevailing low prices of farm products and no railroad short of sixty miles, the Youngs never hesitated in the one great effort of taming the plains.  In the memorable prohibition campaign launched in the latter 1870s both Mr. and Mrs. Young threw their very souls into the work.  The Oak Dale school house midway between Downs and Cawker [City] was the center of activities in this vicinity.  The late William Belk was the able president of this temperance society with Eminous Courter and wife, D. C. Bryant, W. C. Chapin, the Pitts and  Cox’s; and here, too, Mrs. Alice G. Young proved her ability and loyalty to right by always having an entertaining message, with a prohibition clincher.

“In the 1880s when Downs began expanding, a Methodist parsonage estate, the Downs flouring mill with twenty-five acres, the big creamery and five acres of land, and resident homes were carved from the Young homestead.  The price received for lots and acreage was always below the actual worth, the one thought always uppermost to help in every worthy cause.  The only child, Hattie, was given a thorough musical education, which has already been passed to another generation and being enjoyed by scores of music lovers.

“When old age and its accompanying increpencies began interfering with the management of the farm, Mr. and Mrs. Young moved into Downs.  Here the latter’s ability was shown in the successful editing of Our Messenger, the state W.C.T.U. monthly periodical.  Later Mrs. Young gave the Methodist church activities such favorable weekly publicity that many were attracted to the church for the Sabbath program.

“In behalf of Mrs. Alice Young, a lifelong friend, we make this broad assertion:  that Kansas owes as much to her memory for state prohibition as to any other person and this community has lost a literary genius.  The history of Osborne County, if ever written, will never be as complete as though her gifted pen had contributed to its paragraphs.” – Del Cox in the Downs News and Times, November 16, 1922.

Arleta Ethyl (Quenzer) Snyder – 2007 Inductee

Volumes could be said of the sacrifices and generosity of the daughter of Wesley and Ethyl Quenzer, but for now we all shall have to settle for the following few brief sentences of tribute.

Arleta was born November 20, 1924 in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas.  Following graduation from Osborne High School in 1942, she worked for the family appliance business until she married Maurice Snyder on April 21, 1946.

Following their marriage the couple moved to a farm they purchased near Alton.  During their years on the farm, four children were born: Rocky Jo, who died in childbirth; Rocky Wayne; Leta Jean; and Gary.

Maurice and Arleta sold their farm in 1962 and moved the family to Arizona, hoping the warm dry weather would help Arleta’s arthritis.  After two years in Tucson and elsewhere the family settled in Willcox, Arizona, where Arleta worked as office and advertising manager for the Arizona Range News.

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Arizona Range News – October 2, 1986
RETIREMENT HONOREE

Arleta (Quenzer) Snyder, office manager and advertising manager, was honored with a retirement party on September 20th in Willcox.

Greg LaFreniere, editor-publisher of the Arizona Range News, presented her with a plaque for her 18 years of dedication, devotion and loyal service to the weekly publication and the people of the Willcox area.

She has also been associated with the San Pedro Valley News-Sun, Benson, Arizona, and the Eastern Arizona Courier, Safford, Arizona. She was formerly a stringer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona.

She is an Arizona Honorary Future Homemaker, Willcox Honorary Chapter Farmer of the FFA, past public speaking leader for the Kansas Settlement 4-H Club and earned two plaques as Employee of the Month from the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.

Arleta attended Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona.  She plans to spend some time in Osborne, Kansas to be near her family beginning in November.

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Arleta returned to Kansas in 1986 and settled in Osborne. She became one of the most active community volunteers in the entire history of Osborne County, and served with a number of religious, civic, and social organizations.  Arleta continued to use her news writing skills as the Osborne correspondent for the area newspapers.  Besides her activities in the Methodist Church and with the Methodist women, Arleta was involved in the Hospital Auxiliary, the Senior Center, and the Osborne High School Alumni as well as anyone else that asked for her assistance.

Her main passion was working in the Carnegie Research Library, organizing membership drives and editing the Leaves of Lineage newsletter.  Arleta was especially admired as well for her extensive work with the elderly.

After a lifetime of giving this great-grandmother passed away on March 2, 2007 in Osborne at the age of 82.  She was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

Shortly before her death Arleta was informed of her impending induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.  In typical Arleta fashion, she thought that while it was all very nice, “There are really other people who deserve it more”.

Perhaps there are, Arleta, but few will ever match the spirit for life that you showed the world.

Marion Luther Reh – 1996 Inductee

Marion Luther Reh was a community leader.  He was born March 6, 1918, to Todd and Rhoda (Snapp) Reh on a farm southwest of Natoma, Kansas.  The family later moved to a farm northeast of Natoma where he attended Round Mound rural school.  They were poor and Marion learned about hard work at an early age.  He started working out at age fourteen, helping neighboring ranchers and farmers.  His working helped contribute to the family.

When Marion was eighteen, he took a job working for Bus Harbaugh, who had a grocery store and meat market in Natoma.  Bus taught him how to butcher and cut meat.  Later he worked for Harl Richmond at Richmond’s Store, taking care of the meat locker plant.  In 1946 he and his brother Bill built a slaughter house at the east edge of Natoma.  In 1948 they added a locker plant.  Marion continued to work at the meat processing until 1978 when he sold his share to Bill.  Marion was very much interested in the community.  He helped organize the first Labor Day Celebration in 1938 and helped each year thereafter.  He was a cubmaster when his sons were in Cub Scouts; later he was a 4-H leader.  He was awarded a plaque by the high school FFA Chapter for helping their judging team.  In 1960 he went to an auction school in Kansas City, Missouri.  He was an auctioneer for many years, serving the area.  He served on the Natoma City Council for several terms, a total of 23 years in all.  Later he became Mayor, giving of his service for twelve years.

Marion always liked horses.  He was known for taking kids for rides.  Whenever they saw him riding, they knew he’d take them for a ride.  He knew how to win their friendship and love, and most of them knew him as “Uncle” Marion.  He became “family” active in the Kansas Western Horseman’s Association (KWHA).  He served as a board member, was vice president, then he served one term as president for that association.  He became a respected KWHA judge, fulfilling that job for twenty-five years.  He was a very competitive rider and earned many trophies riding his quarter horse stallion.  He was awarded “Judge of the Year” by contestant votes two out of the three years that this award was given.  He helped organize several saddle clubs in the area and announced at many nearby shows.  One of the reasons he was a favorite horse show judge was that he always took time to walk out and explain to the young people why he hadn’t placed them and what they could do to improve.  Many parents thanked him because their children listened and did try to improve.  He had a way that kids related to; they listened.

Marion was very instrumental in making the old Welling Theater into a community center.  He spent many hours laboring on the remodeling of the building.  He was happy and anxious for Natoma to have the Center.  He was never too busy to help.  After snowstorms, he was at many driveways on his tractor, clearing the snow.  He was especially thoughtful of people living alone.  In the springtime plowing gardens–not for pay but just out of goodness, he was there.  He really cared about people, his community and his God.  Marion married Roberta Hoskins in 1940 and they had three sons:  Marion Lee, Gary, and Dennis.  Marion died March 18, 1993, and was buried in the Natoma Cemetery.

Marion Reh was a man who seldom met anyone he didn’t like.

Mildred Viola (Adams) Morgan – 2002 Inductee

It is a distinct honor to celebrate the life of a woman who for fifty-six years unflinchingly gave so much of her time over to doing the little things that others rarely try to take the time to do, for the betterment of all.

Mildred Viola Adams was born April 22, 1922, on a farm in Bates County, Missouri, the fifth child in a family of seven boys and five girls. Her parents Bennie & Ivie Adams saw to it that she and rest of their passel received an education, first at the local one-room schoolhouse, and later at high school in Rich Hill, Missouri. After graduation Mildred went to the big city—Kansas City—when she met and married her husband, Jack Leroy Morgan, on September 1, 1946.

After Jack graduated college in 1950 with a degree in pharmacy the couple moved first to Wichita, later arriving in Osborne in June 1955 where Jack began work in Hilsinger Drug Store. Here Jack and Mildred raised their daughter Patti and Mildred became a volunteer cook, the first one ever, at Parkview Manor in Osborne. In 1967 she joined the Organization of Gray Ladies, a volunteer society under the American Red Cross that whose purpose was to alleviate pain and sorrow. This group of trained volunteers worked side by side with the nursing staff at the rest homes in Downs and Osborne to care for the sick and elderly. Mildred quickly learned that often it was the little things that a volunteer could help with most—the bingo games, serving coffee, playing cards, reading to a resident.

While a caregiver at Parkview Manor (later called Parkview Care Center) Mildred often went above and beyond her assigned duties. She visited Parkview several times a week, helping with the little things that were needed back in 1967, along with taking those who needed a ride to doctor or dentist appointments, picking up people needing a ride to Parkview or to the activities at Solomon Valley Homes, where she kept up the card games and bingo nights going as well. From 1979 to 1996 she was the Parkview Activity Director, and even after her retirement from that position she continued to help where needed.

“She did so many ‘second mile’ and ‘behind the scenes’ deeds for the resident family that it is impossible to list them. However, whatever the need she saw, she took care of it. Her attention to detail was outstanding.” – Betty Jo Banks, administrator, Parkview Care Center.

Mildred was the Osborne County Heart Fund chairperson for many years and also worked with the local American Cancer Society for over 30 years.

You saw Mildred when and wherever a volunteer was needed. She helped with numerous bake sale fundraisers with her cakes and pies. At one time she instigated a fundraiser for a lad who was terminally ill with cancer. She also helped some families who had moved to Osborne and did not read or speak English. When anyone was in the hospital or ill, Mildred had a card in the mail for them or delivered a pie or casserole to their door, or she greeted them with a glass of homemade jelly. When on her daily walk from her Osborne home she would always carry a bag with which to pick up trash she found along the way.

When taking part in projects and social gatherings Mildred was always counted on to do more than one person’s share. She was active in the Osborne Christian United Church and volunteered time to work at the Market Place in Osborne. Mildred was appointed to the Silver Haired Legislature for Osborne County and was a member of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance, the North Central Kansas Tourism Council, and Osborne County Tourism, Inc., where her advice and insights were in valuable. She volunteered at the Kansas Sampler Festival for fifteen years, no matter how far away the Festival was being held from Osborne, and helped both set up and man Osborne County’s display there, handing out brochures and other information while informing people as to the many attractions that Osborne County offered.

Mildred often amazed people as she was blessed with the energy of a person fifteen to twenty years younger. She enjoyed good health up to just a few days before her final illness, with her passing occurring on April 30, 2011. Mildred was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.