Category: History (page 2 of 3)

Vietnam POW/MIA Wives Challenge Traditional Silence

In the late 1960s, POW/MIA wives bucked government protocol and broke public silence to demand accounting for their husbands and to pursue their safe return after years of imprisonment and torture by the North Vietnamese. Audrey McKanna Coleman, Senior Curator at the Dole Institute of Politics and member of Lawrence Central Rotary, highlighted how these women worked with Congress and the Nixon administration to challenge the traditional role of “military wife.” Senator Robert Dole helped them to gather a coalition in Congress and to sponsor the 1970 May Day event when they stepped forward publically as advocates for their husbands.

The story of these courageous women is chronicled at the Dole Institute of Politics in “The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies and Advocates.”  The display is the most recent of a series of exhibits conceived by Coleman that highlight the people and events with whom Senator Robert Dole interacted during his career.  Past exhibits included one in 2015 on Dole’s leadership in enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act and one in 2017 commemorating Dole’s nomination in 1976 at Kemper Arena to run for the Vice Presidency on the Republican ticket with Gerald Ford.

Curated by 2017 Dole Archives Curatorial Fellow Heath Hardage Lee, the current exhibition features 200 items that tell the story:  documents, photos, oral histories and memorabilia from the Dole Archives, personal collections of POW/MIA families, and other institutions. Lee has written a book on the subject: The League of Wives: a True Story of Survival and Rescue from the Homefront (2019, St. Martin’s Press).

 

Celebrating a Rotary Centennial

Lawrence Rotary Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year!  Longtime member Andrea Norris outlined the distinguished history of the organization for Lawrence Central members.

The Lawrence Rotary Club began in April 1917, just twelve years after Paul Harris and his business colleagues in Chicago began to meet to network and share business opportunities. Sponsored by the Topeka Rotary Club, there were 23 charter members. W.C. Simons was the first president. Numerous leaders of the Lawrence community have been members. In 1987, the club was among the first to invite women to join. Lawrence Rotary launched the two other Rotary clubs in the community: Jayhawk Rotary Club in 1994 and Lawrence Central Rotary in 2003. In 2015, they initiated Rotary Prime, an organization aimed at involving young professionals with Rotary.

From the start, the organization eagerly promoted the aims of Rotary International, raising money and conducting service projects and fundraisers in addition to enjoying social activities.  Lawrence Rotary has contributed signiticant time and money to support the work of numerous non-profit organizations in Lawrence over the years. In honor of Rotary International’s 100th anniversary in 2005, Lawrence Rotary Club partnered with the other Rotary clubs in Lawrence and with the City to create the Rotary Arboretum.  In addition to local commitments, they have been actively involved with international projects and with raising money for polio eradication.

Lawrence Fair Housing Ordinance of 1967 Commemorated by Oral History and Documents

Tom Arnold | Lawrence KS

Lawrence Historian Tom Arnold (Photo Credit LJWorld)

The City of Lawrence was one of the first communities in the nation to establish a Fair Housing Ordinance, said local historian Tom Arnold. This important event took place in Lawrence in July 1967, well before the federal Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968.

Tom Arnold has spent the past months doing research and developing an oral history to commemorate the passage of Lawrence’s Fair Housing Ordinance fifty years ago. After thirty years in the U.S. Navy, Tom came to Lawrence to teach Naval Science at KU for three years as an adjunct professor. He retired from the University six years ago and began volunteering at the Watkins Museum. As the anniversary of the Fair Housing Ordinance approached, Arnold took the archival work that began in the City Attorney’s office by LCR member Scott Wagner, Management Analyst, and accepted the task of developing an oral history to complement the historical documents. Those interviews were conducted in October and November 2016. The goal was to get the personal perspectives and motives of individuals who participated in this important set of decisions in Lawrence during the 1960s.  Arnold conducted nine interviews with eleven people, generating twelve hours of recordings.  The recordings have now been transcribed so that they are searchable for future research needs.

The milestone anniversary of the Fair Housing Ordinance will be celebrated with a variety of events and displays during the coming months. There will be a visual display at the Watkins Museum and a traveling exhibit as well. Documents will be archived at the KU Spencer Museum.

The Lawrence Human Rights Commission (HRC) was established in 1961. Before that time, none of the public swimming pools were open to non-whites. Businesses routinely segregated Afro-Americans and even refused services.  The Fair Housing initiative began as a grassroots movement among Lawrence citizens in 1964 when the Lawrence Fair Housing Committee formed. Attempts to pass state legislation on Fair Housing failed, so the group transferred their focus to the local level. The Lawrence Ordinance was the result of effort and risk-taking by many to address the housing discrimination and inequities that existed in the Lawrence community. The Committee sent a resolution to the Human Relations Commission of the City of Lawrence in 1967. By that time, there was broad support. Many community groups and churches collaborated to bring this significant milestone to reality.

 

Long-time Rotarians share their Rotary Stories

Left to Right: John Wilkinson, Nancy Hause, Bob Swan

Three veteran Rotarians shared their stories with fellow members of Lawrence Central Rotary.  Each found Rotary in an unusual way!

Nancy Hause joined Lawrence Central Rotary in 2014.  Prior to that time, she was a member of Lawrence Jayhawk Rotary and Estes Park Rotary.  Her loyalty to Rotary is long-lived, despite the fact that her grandfather, a Boulder, CO, businessman was not invited to join Rotary years ago.  At the time he sought membership, the Boulder club assumed he could not be a part of the club because he was Catholic and they did not serve fish at their Friday meetings.  Years later, her father joined the Brighton, CO, Rotary club and served as its president.  Her mother was an active Rotary Ann, playing the piano for the weekly club meetings.  Nancy’s husband Richard was invited to join Rotary in California and played the piano for that club for many years.  Even though women were allowed to join Rotary by the mid-1980’s, Nancy didn’t become a Rotary member herself until after Rich’s death.  After she and Rich retired and moved to Estes Park, Rich joined Rotary there.  He dedicated his year as president of the Estes Park Rotary Club to Nancy’s father.  When he died, the Estes Park Rotary invited Nancy to join their group.  Nancy is a two-time Paul Harris Fellow.  Nancy studied journalism at the University of Colorado, has worked as a writer and editor on newspapers over many years, and continues to do freelance work.  She taught news and feature writing at Kansas State for fifteen years.  She and Rich had four children and eight grandchildren.

Bob Swan joined Lawrence Central Rotary in 2009, but his first involvement with Rotary was in 1966 when he studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Rotary Foundation Fellow.

Bob graduated from the University of Kansas in 1964 and, prior to his year in Argentina, was a KU Exchange Scholar to Reading, England. After his Rotary year in Argentina and South America, Bob ran for U.S. Congress in opposition to the Vietnam War, and wrote his Master’s Thesis on his symbolic campaign.  His lifelong activism has been inspired in part by his opportunity to meet Dr. Martin Luther King in St. Augustine, Florida during the demonstrations that helped end the Senate Filibuster and ensure passage of the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 2009 Bob joined Lawrence Central Rotary through encouragement from one of its founders, Ed Samp.  In 2012-2013 Bob served as club president and focused on increasing membership and organizing a fundraiser for polio eradication, held in Lawrence and supported by nine other clubs of District 5710.  Bob and his wife Irina from Moscow live in Lawrence where they now follow from afar the activities of Bob’s two daughters and Irina’s son and four grandchildren.

John Wilkinson joined Rotary in 1974 in Topeka and came to Lawrence Central Rotary in 2005.  John grew up in Cherryvale, a small Kansas town of 2300 people.  He began his career in 1941 as an entrepreneur with a paper route of 235 customers.  He also carried luggage between the Frisco and the Santa Fe train depots for travelers.  Delivering the paper—the Cherryvale Republican—John became aware of Rotary and was impressed with the community leadership of its members.  “Rotary owned the town,” he observed.  While attending Independence Junior College, John worked for a CPA firm where he had a chance to visit Rotary clubs.   Once again, the comradery of Rotary impressed him.  John attended the KU School of Business, did time in the U.S. Army in personnel, and graduated from law school on the G.I Bill.  He joined a law firm in Topeka and practiced law for 42 years, spending time as clerk for both federal and state judges and serving as general counsel for the Federal Home Loan Bank for many years.  John is past-president of the Topeka West Rotary Club.  He has been married to Marianne for 59 years.  They have three sons and five grandchildren.

Local Architect Stan Hernley Restores and Re-purposes Local Historic Building

Stan Hernly | Lawrence Central RotaryArchitect Stan Hernley shared a bit of Lawrence history and the story of the restoration of a complex of structures left to ruin at 1106 Rhode Island.  Rhody Delahunty , an Irish immigrant, acquired two  city lots in 1871 and established a transfer and storage business on the site  that operated well into the 1930’s.  Delahunty built a residence, a barn and eventually a truck shed on the property, which the family occupied until 1964.  The location was later used as an auto salvage business for a few years.  The structures fell into disrepair and the city condemned the site in 2013 with the goal of finding someone to restore the site.

1106 Rhode Island Lawrence Ks

1106 Rhode Island Before / After Photo Credit: Journal-World Photos.

Six partners, including Hernley, formed an LLC and a plan was developed for acquiring and restoring the property.  The LLC paid the city $90,000 in 2014 for the property and has invested an additional $800,000 on the project.  A development grant and a tax rebate were part of the agreement with the city and work had to be approved by the Historical Society Review Board.  The restoration was challenging as new foundations were required and there was a considerable amount of wood rot to deal with.  Unique features were saved and some repurposed as the structures were provided with modern wiring, plumbing and heating and air systems.  The restored site has two residential rentals, a modern conference room, and office space for Hernley and Associates.  Images of the structures show a remarkable transformation.  An open house is planned for late spring when the project is completed.

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