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Audrey Coleman Honored with Becky Castro Award

Audrey Coleman received the Becky Castro Award from President Fred Atchison at Lawrence Central Rotary’s annual anniversary event.  He thanked Coleman for her work and dedication on a significant initiative to fulfill the Club’s mission–the acquisition of Lawrence Kids Calendar.

In June 2017, Lawrence Central Rotary Club decided to purchase the Lawrence Kids Calendar website.  They recognized the website as a fundraising opportunity as well as a public service initiative that was focused on youth and family activities. During the past year, Coleman has taken the role of Project Manager for Lawrence Kids Calendar, providing leadership and coordination during the Club’s acquisition and implementation of the online tool. Coleman is currently President-Elect of Lawrence Central Rotary.

The Becky Castro Award was established in 2014 in memory of founding club member Becky Castro in recognition of her lifelong dedication to community service.  It is presented periodically to a member who has put forth exceptional efforts in time, expertise, and personal resources on behalf of Lawrence Central Rotary; been instrumental in shaping and promoting the strategic direction of the Club; made major contributions to the realization of our mission, goals, and objectives; and enhanced the value of membership for all.

Two other club members were recognized during the anniversary celebration as well.  Jim Peters and Shelly McColm were honored as Paul Harris Fellows in thanks for their service.  Peters was President from 2016-2017.  Since that time, he has served a year as Past President and has been active with the launch of Kids Calendar and with the Program committee.  McColm has served as Club Secretary/Administrator since 2015.  She helps regularly to post events on Lawrence Kids Calendar.

Atchison says, “LCR is a small club which means just about everybody pitches in to get things done. So many club members deserve recognition and thanks. Audrey Coleman, winner of the Becky Castro award, received special recognition for her extraordinary work in managing the acquisition and set up of our new club project: the Lawrence Kids Calendar. This year we are also proud to see Shelly McColm and Jim Peters recognized as Paul Harris Fellows. They have provided great leadership year after year. Thanks to these Rotarians for their good work.”

J. R. Brinkley: Medical Quack and Marketing Genius

Jerry Harper, a retired Lawrence lawyer, told Rotarians about Dr. J.R. Brinkley, the notorious goat-gland doctor from Kansas.

In 1917, Brinkley arrived in Milford, KS, to establish a practice. When a local farmer convinced him to transplant goat glands into him to renew his “vim and pep,” the patient and his wife had a baby the following year. News of Brinkley’s success spread rapidly, and soon he was charging $750 per operation, doing 50 procedures each week.

Although his dubious surgery became a lucrative business, Brinkley was probably more remarkable as a marketer. In 1923, he started the “Sunshine Station in the Heart of the Nation,” a radio broadcast that ran a full schedule of weather, stock market updates, music, even French lessons and college courses. This innovative use of radio broadcasting also promoted good health, recommending his surgical procedure and his medical advice and referring people to his network of pharmacies to supply the remedies.

When Brinkley began to answer medical questions on the air, however, his medical license was revoked. But his notoriety made it possible for him to run as a write-in candidate for governor of Kansas in 1930, garnering 30% of the vote. After the race, Brinkley moved to Texas and continued to broadcast his messages nationwide. He lost his fortune in the following years and died with nothing in 1942.

Jerry Harper is a fan of colorful characters from Kansas. In addition to his law practice, he served in the Kansas House of Representatives, taught as an adjunct instructor at the KU Law School and in the KU Humanities Program.

Cowboy Songs Tell the Story

Jim Hoy, author, educator, and Kansas native, sang “The Old Chisolm Trail” to launch his story about the American cowboy.  Cowboys were typically men between the ages of 19 and 22, he explained.  They managed the herds on the long, slow cattle drives from Texas to Kansas, work that was both boring and dangerous.  Cowboys sang to the cattle to calm them and to themselves to pass the time, generating a wealth of music and poetry.

Kansas is the home of the cowboy, Hoy says, a fact that often surprises people. Over 35,000 men and boys–and a few women–worked the Chisolm Trail after the Civil War, driving long horn cattle from San Antonio, Texas, to be sold in Abilene, Kansas.  It was entrepreneur Jim McKoy who took advantage of Kansas State law and talked the Kansas Pacific Railway into running a spur to Abilene so he could ship cattle East from there.  In the five years (1867-1871) that Abilene was the main Kansas cowtown, over 3,000,000 head went through the pens there. The era came to a close as the town of Abilene grew and changed, more farms developed in the area, and the residents began to resist the rowdy lifestyle that the cowtown fostered.

Kansas originated the cowboy boot with its high heel and pointed toe.  Even John B. Stetson’s ten-gallon hat has Kansas roots, according to Hoy.  Frank H. Maynard was a Kansas cowboy when he wrote “Streets of Loredo” or “Cowboy’s Lament.”

Hoy actively helps his son Josh and family who own and operate the Flying W Ranch in the Flint Hills.

Preserving Digital Memories

Michael Church, Digital Initiatives Coordinator for the Kansas State Historical Society, spoke on the importance of managing and archiving personal digital content. Michael Church earned an undergraduate degree in English Literature, but it was a love of history that took him to a master’s degree and an archivist job with the State of Utah. His work at the Kansas State Historical Society includes the Kansas Memory photo archive and the nationally recognized digital collection of Kansas newspapers.

Paper records often require less preservation attention, but personal records are particularly vulnerable if steps are not taken to preserve them. Digital records must be located and identified, with the most important being tagged for preservation. Files should be constructed and saved with multiple copies. Files should be identified by name, date and other pertinent information. Multiple copies should be made for the computer, CD, DVD, thumb drive or internet storage. Check those files once a year and copy to new media every five years.

Michael Church recommends using an extended drive that can automatically back up your records to the cloud. There are numerous sites that identify and evaluate cloud services. Various resources on digital preservation are available through the work of the Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board, of which our own Audrey Coleman is a member. Individuals may also obtain assistance from local computer businesses. Protecting your valuable digital records can be accomplished with some planning and diligence.

Marples Creates Music with Woodworking Skills

When you love both music and woodworking, what do you do when you want to slow down your career?  The Doug Marples answer:  Make violins!

When Doug Marples decided it was time to leave his internal medical practice in Garden City in 2005, he enrolled in a school to learn the craft of making violins, violas and cellos. Now he spends his time creating instruments in his shop in west Lawrence.

The process of making a violin, viola, or cello is much the same, Marples explains, although obviously the scale of each type of instrument is different. The first concern in creating a fine instrument is to select high-quality wood and to let it dry and season.

Using the classic Cremonese Method, Marples traces the shape of an instrument that he wants to use as a template and makes a inside mold of walnut. Willow blocks are placed around the mold to which the ribs or sides of very thin maple are glued. A heating iron bends the maple into the curved shapes necessary.

The top and back of an instrument are made from a single piece of wood. Marples splits the wood block and uses a gouge to create the arch in the wood on both the top and the bottom plates.  He then planes the wood to the opportune thickness. Inlay around the edge of the instrument is made of veneer. This purfling reinforces and increases the plates’ flexibility as well as adding visual beauty.

Next, the mold is removed, and the plates are glued to the ribs and blocks. F-holes are carved on either side of the top of the instrument. A sound post is positioned on the treble side of the instrument, and a bass bar supports the the lower strings. Creating the neck, fingerboard, and scroll for the instrument is another a carving job. Their alignment is important to the playability of the instrument. The mortise connects the neck to the body.

Once the instrument is made, Marples applies a gelatin-like sealer made of alum and protein. Then he applies a clear ground varnish of linseed oil and resins and often a colored varnish as well.

Marples says it takes about 4-5 weeks to carve a violin or viola and about twice that long to carve a cello. The varnishing process takes 2 to 3 months, no matter what type of instrument he is making.

Village Pubs in Britain on the Decline

Tom Schmiedeler, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Washburn University. Tom’s interest in historical, environmental, and regional geography led him to a study of “The Decline of the Village Pub in the Garden of England.”

Small pubs have historically been the community meeting place and the identity of a village, Schmiedeler points out. Social connection was the primary reason to go to the pubs; the drinking was secondary.  But over the past fifty years, British and Scottish pubs have been transformed by a number of factors:  Taxes on alcohol have risen, making a pint more and more expensive.  Inexpensive alcohol is available in grocery stores. Drinking and driving laws are now in place and well-enforced. Licensing for pubs has become more difficult and costly.  And the Internet and family commitments keep potential customers at home.


Judge Joseph Pierron and Friend

Honorable G. Joseph Pierron, a fellow Rotarian, Lawrence resident, and native Kansan, has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 1990.  When he speaks to schools and civic groups, he brings along Spike the Dog to assist him in explaining the court system.

The role of the courts is to interpret the law, Pierron emphasized.  In the Kansas judicial system, there are numerous municipal courts, 79 district/magistrate courts, 167 district courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.  The fourteen judges on the Court of Appeals sit in panels of three to hear about 1600 cases each year. All seven members of the Kansas Supreme Court sit together to hear cases, typically 300 cases each year.

Judge Pierron told the story of the “Kansas Triple Play,” a political manuever in 1956 that allowed incumbant Governor Fred Hall to be named to the Supreme Court.  As a result of that situation, the legislature made a change to the Kansas constitution requiring that an independent panel select three nominees to fill Supreme Court vacancies from which the governor can choose.  The same process was used to select judges for the Court of Appeals until 2016 when the statute was changed to allow the governor to appoint Appellate Court judges without a panel review of candidates.

The criminal incarceration rate in Kansas has risen from 1:1000 in 1960 to 3:1000. Pierron indicated that the reason for the change was tougher law enforcement, especially for drugs and child abuse.  Mandatory sentencing has not been issue in Kansas, according to Pierron.  Kansas recently won an award for reducing the backlog of cases in the courts.

Judges are advocating for higher pay for the 1,600 non-judicial personnel supporting the courts in Kansas.  Although pay for judges is also extremely low compared to national averages, the immediate need is to hire and retain well-qualified people in support roles.

Caddy Stacks Fun!

Lawrence Central Rotarians Jim Peters and Kate Campbell clowned around the Rotary mini-golf hole at the opening event for Caddy Stacks. Caddy Stacks is a bi-annual fundraising event for the Lawrence Public Library. The hole was decorated to represent the Rotary Arboretum as a “Wonder of Lawrence .”

Earlier in the evening, Jim and Lee Anne Thompson listened to opening remarks at the party. Jim, Lee Anne, Fred Atchison and Jay Holley assisted with the design of the hole and the set up.

Other club members met this young golfer when they manned the hole during the weekend hours to distribute information about Lawrence Kids Calendar.  The Lawrence Kids Calendar donated calendar publicity to the project.

Ken Crockett Writes of Spencer Legacy

Topeka-based author Ken Crockett spent years researching the personal lives, business successes and philanthropy of Kenneth and Helen Spencer, two people who left a pronounced mark on Lawrence.  Kenneth and Helen Spencer of Kansas: Champions of Culture & Commerce in the Sunflower State is a nonfiction, biographical account of the Spencers and their major contributions, including the Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University.

“As I started to write the book, I knew of the philanthropy they had been involved in, but I really had no appreciation for the breadth of it,” Crockett said. “I would hope readers could see that these are two very extraordinary people who came from a common background and had a sense of obligation to share success with others.”

Crockett, 72, formed the idea for this book while researching another. He spent years of his early post-retirement life reading the correspondence of Kenneth Spencer, whose family owned Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company. After publishing a book on that subject, Crockett returned to the library to take a closer look at Spencer’s life. He spent five years researching this book, conducting interviews with remaining acquaintances of the Spencers and reading all he could find.

Crockett earned a bachelor of arts from Central Missouri State University in 1964 and a juris doctor from Washburn University in 1967.

Kelley Hunt Inspires Singing!

Kelley Hunt got Lawrence Central Rotarians on their feet and singing!  Her encouragement and the lyric “We let the light shine over us” inspired members to join the chorus. Hunt also peformed the title song from her most recent of six recordings, “Beautiful Bones.”

Hunt’s website describes her sound as a “refined blend of blues, soul, and R&B and root music.” A singer and songwriter, piano player and guitarist, Hunt was born in Kansas City and earned a degree in music from KU.  Although she considers Lawrence as her home base, her band comes out of Chicago, and she tours and performs all over the country. Hunt will perform at the Cider Gallery on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Hunt described being fascinated with the piano as a child even before she could see the keys.  Her mother always listened to her compositions and admonished her to think for herself in the face of setbacks and criticisms. Hunt’s success in a male-dominated industry comes from the self-assurance that that encouragement bred into her. As Hunt says, I was willing to “show up as who I am.”


Masks: Mystery and Beauty

Carla Hanson, curator of a traveling exhibit called “Spirit of the Mask,” shared her collection of masks and their stories. Masks can cover the face, head, and even the entire body, as demonstrated below by Rotarians Bob Swan and Jim Peters as they tried on masks and garments associated with the plague in medieval Europe. Created using all types of materials, masks play a role in dance forms, storytelling, ritual, and celebration.

Hanson’s collection includes masks from more than 45 countries and cultures of the world. She brought examples from Native American tribes, Peru, Nigerian, Guatemala, Tibet, Bali, Russia, and more. Many were renderings of animals, reptiles, or the faces of spirits. In addition, there were Santa Claus costumes and Halloween masks familiar in the United State and a mask of a “nisse,” a white-bearded creature from Nordic folklore.

Hanson will be teaching a course about masks for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Olathe and in Kansas City this spring .

Focus on Rotary Foundation

LCR member Janis Bunker is a passionate advocate for PolioPlus, Rotary Foundation’s drive to eradicate polio in the world.  When she attended the 2017 Rotary International conference in Atlanta last June, she joined roundtable discussions about the effort. Beginning in 1979. Rotary International began its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Over the past decades, Rotary has partnered with the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund and implement the project.

Today, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the only countries where polio remains endemic. Although there were only 17 cases reported during 2017, work to ensure that the virus does not emerge once again will continue for ten years after the last case is reported.  Even as monitoring for new cases continues, the infrastructure of laboratories and immunization clinics works to manage outbreaks of new diseases in the world.

Michael Steinle, chair of the Foundation Committee for Lawrence Central Rotary, outlined the six areas of focus that define the work of Rotary Foundation.  They are (1) promoting peace; (2) fighting disease; (3) providing clean water, sanitation, and hygience; (4) saving mothers and children, (5) supporting education; and (6) growing local economies.  Contributions to the Foundation support projects aimed at these initiatives.  The Foundation is proud to be known for delivering 91% of each contribution dollar to help these efforts.


Buy A Wreath – Make a Difference – Order Holiday wreaths & decorations now from Lawrence Central

Lawrence Central continues our annual fundraiser for the work we do every year. As in year’s past, we will be selling wreaths and other holiday decorations from Lynch Creek Farms and in Lawrence Central’s partnership with them, we receive 20% back from every sale to help fund the service projects we do.  Some examples of our service activities include:

We want to continue to do this work and more with help from you and all you need to do is simply purchase holiday decorations. You can do this by talking to any of our members or there’s an even easier way – visit our Lynch Creek fundraising website, peruse what they have, an order yourself!  We’ve even set up an easy link:


If you’re not comfortable with ordering online we totally understand – you can also call Lynch Creek direct toll-free at 1-888-426-0781 and please Lawrence Central Rotary Fundraiser #100925.

Lynch Creek is a family business that started in 1980, now transformed from selling a few flowers and vegetables at the local farmers’ market on the weekends, to a full-blown year-round business that ships throughout the United States.

We could go on about how great these wreaths are, but when we were at the Lawrence Rotary Club recently,  Jennifer Berquist stopped us and told us this,

“Last year, for the first time, I purchased several Lynch Creek items as holiday gifts. Those who received the evergreen gifts were so pleased and impressed with the quality. It is a huge seller for me that the Lawrence Central Rotary Club receives part of the profits. I will definitely place another order this year!” – Jennifer Berquist – Lawrence, KS 

Lynch Creek Farms have been amazing to work with and they care about the groups that sell their wreaths and decorations. Here’s a video about the business.

Kressig and LaClair Welcomed into LCR

Kevin Kressig and Chip LaClair are new members of Lawrence Central Rotary.  President Fred Atchison inducted the two during the November 30 club meeting.  Sponsors Steve Lane and Jim Evers participated in the ceremony.

Standing left to right in the photograph:  Atchison, Lane, Kressig, LaClair, and Evers

Ramsdell and Meyer Inducted into LCR

Bob Ramsdell (left) and Kade Meyer (right) were inducted into Lawrence Central Rotary on Wednesday, November 15.  After the brief ceremony, President Fred Atchison asked both men to tell the group more about themselves.

Bob Ramsdell said that before earning a law degree at KU, he spent 21 years as an artillery officer in the Army.  He then worked eighteen years in a local law partnership.  In July 2017, Bob set up a solo law practice in Lawrence focusing on estate planning, probate, trusts, wills, and elder law.  He and his wife are originally from Maryland; they have two adult children who live in the area.  Bob was drawn to Rotary because he has many friends who have been involved in the organization.  He selected Lawrence Central Rotary Club because it is small enough for friendships and big enough to get things done.  In his free time Bob likes to read history and biography and enjoys photography.

After a six-year stint in the Army Reserves, Kade Meyer returned to Topeka where he and his two siblings had grown up.  He followed his father’s lead into the insurance industry and currently works as an insurance account representative in Lawrence, specializing in life insurance.  As Kade launches himself professionally, he knows he needs to connect to the community.  Joining a Rotary club has been an ideal way to do so, but he has also gotten involved with a number of other groups and initiatives in both Lawrence and Topeka.  Kade chuckles as he acknowledges he chose Lawrence Central Rotary because of our reputation as “the fun group.”  In his free time, Kade enjoys listening to podcasts and to a variety of other media.