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New Hall of Fame Honors the Best in Russell County

Russell County Kansas Hall of FameThe Blue Hills Heritage Foundation has announced both the establishment of the Russell County Kansas Hall of Fame and the first 20 inductees who make up the First Class to the Hall.

The 2018 Inductees, the First Class of the Russell County Kansas Hall of Fame are:

Individuals:

  • Philip F. Anschutz, Russell (Business)
  • Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke, Bunker Hill (Nursing)
  • Samuel P. Dinsmoor, Lucas (Arts – Sculpture)
  • Robert J. Dole, Russell (Politics)
  • Randall A. Duell, Luray (Arts – Movie Art Direction & Architect)
  • Marj Dusay, Russell (Arts – Actress)
  • Leslie W. Halbe, Dorrance (Arts – Photography)
  • Asa Kinney, Russell (Politics)
  • Elmo & Kenneth Mahoney, Dorrance (Business)
  • Arlen Specter, Russell (Politics)

Businesses:

  • Brant's Market (Lucas)
  • Lucky Seven Oil Company (Fairport)
  • Myers Furniture (Russell)
  • Post Insurance, Inc. (Paradise)
  • Radke Implement Inc. (Milberger)

Organizations or Events:

  • Amherst United Methodist Church (Waldo Township)
  • K-18 Baseball Association (Lucas)
  • Luray Fish Fry (Luray)
  • Smoky Hills Public Television Corporation (Bunker Hill)
  • Waldo Lions Club (Waldo)

The Russell County Kansas Hall of Fame (RCHF) was established in 2018 to celebrate the best from Russell County's past and present. Each year inductees will be chosen in three categories: individuals, businesses, and organizations or events. A special 10 individuals, five businesses, and five organizations or events have been selected for induction. They span the breadth of Russell County historically as well as geographically. Detailed stories concerning each inductee can be read on the Blue Hills Heritage Foundation's website at bhhf2018.wixsite.com/bhhf. Nominations are being accepted from anybody in regards to who should be considered in the future.Blue Hills Heritage Foundation

The RCHF is administered by the Lucas-based non-profit Blue Hills Heritage Foundation (BHHF). The BHHF was established in September 2018 with the following mission statement: "Dedicated to preserving, presenting, and promoting the heritage and culture of the community of Lucas as it impacts the county of Russell, the state of Kansas, the nation, and the world." The BHHF also administrates the Kansas Film & TV Hall of Fame.

Inductees Backgrounds and Achievements:

Individuals:

· Philip Frederick Anschutz (December 28, 1939 - still living) was born in Russell, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence and in 1961 he bought out his father's drilling company, Circle A Drilling, earning large returns in Wyoming. Philip is an oil and land magnate who has dabbled in a little bit of everything in the business world. He owns 9 million acres along the Utah and Wyoming border that sits on a 1 billion barrel oil pocket. He owned Rio Grande Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad and when they merged with Union Pacific Railroad he became Vice-Chairman. He founded Qwest Communications and co-founded Major League Soccer as well as multiple soccer franchises, including the Los Angeles Galaxy, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes, and the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, and is one of only four recipients of the National Soccer Hall of Fame's Medal of Honor. Philip heads Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the world's largest owner of sports teams, sports events and sports venues, which owns stakes in the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings and other teams around the world, as well as stakes in world-renowned sports facilities such as the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the O2 Arena in London. He has invested in motion pictures such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Amazing Grace; Ray; and Joshua. The University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado, and the University of Kansas' Anschutz Library and Anschutz Sports Pavilion, both in Lawrence, Kansas, are all named in his honor as the primary contributor. Philip was elected to the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 2000, the U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2002, and the International Business Hall of Fame in 2002.

· Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke (July 19, 1817 – November 8, 1901) became the best known, most colorful, and probably most resourceful Civil War nurse. Through her unbridled energy and dedication she organized hospitals and gained General Ulysses S. Grant's appreciation. By the end of the war, with the help of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, Mother Bickerdyke had built 300 hospitals and aided the wounded on 19 battlefields, including the Battle of Shiloh and Sherman's March to the Sea. Mother Bickerdyke was so beloved by the army that the soldiers would cheer her as they would a general when she appeared. She came to live in Ellsworth, Kansas after the war. In 1886 she moved to Bunker Hill, Kansas, where she lived out her remaining years still celebrated by "her boys", those Civil War veterans who often stopped by to pay their respects.

· Samuel Perry Dinsmoor (March 8, 1843 – July 21, 1932) was born near Coolville, Ohio. He served in the Civil War for three years and participated in 18 major battles, including the Battle of Gettysburg and the surrender of Robert E. Lee. Later Dinsmoor moved to Russell County, Kansas, in 1888 and settled on a farmstead. Upon retirement he moved his family into Lucas, Kansas. Although neither an architect nor an engineer, Samuel P. Dinsmoor began building his "Cabin Home" at age 64, utilizing the local Post Rock Limestone. With its completion Dinsmoor then set about creating what he called the "Garden of Eden," primarily consisting of a series of intertwining concrete sculptures that reflected his religious and political views. The Garden surrounded his home and over a century later is acclaimed as an astonishing work of sculpture and an internationally-recognized masterpiece of visionary art. When Dinsmoor died he was laid to rest on the Garden of Eden grounds in a mausoleum he built for himself and his first wife.

· Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole (July 22, 1938 - still living) was born in Russell, Kansas. He was raised there and in 1942 enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II as a second lieutenant in the Army's 10th Mountain Division in April 1945. While engaged in combat near Castel d'Aiano in the Apennine Mountains southwest of Bologna, Italy, Dole was badly wounded. Dole was decorated three times, receiving two Purple Hearts for his injuries, and the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor for his attempt to assist a downed radioman. In 1950 he was elected to a two-year term in the Kansas House of Representatives and then served eight years as Russell County Attorney. Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, serving as Senates Republican Leader from 1985 until his resignation as a Senator. In the 1976 presidential election Dole was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988 but secured it in 1996, losing the general election to incumbent president Bill Clinton. Dole currently serves as a legal advisor for a Washington law firm and as a member of the advisory council for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

· Randall A. Duell (July 14, 1903 – November 28, 1992) was born in Luray, Kansas. He graduated an architect from the University of Southern California in 1925 and contributed to designs for notable building projects in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s. During the Great Depression MGM Studio hired Duell to design the set for the movie Romeo and Juliet. He then joined the MGM art department full-time and in his career was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction for the movies When Ladies Meet (1941), Random Harvest (1942), and Blackboard Jungle (1955). Duell received screen credit for 38 films, among them The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and Singin' in the Rain (1952), and worked on 33 more motion pictures without film credit, including The Wizard of Oz (1939). He retired from the movie business in 1959 and formed the Duell Corporation, which designed many of the country's best-known amusement parks, such as Six Flags over Texas, Astroworld, Magic Mountain, Worlds of Fun, Hersheypark, Busch Gardens, Opryland, and others. Duel passed away in Los Angeles, California at the age of 89.

· Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney, or "Marj Dusay" (February 20, 1936 - still living) was born and raised in Russell, Kansas. She began her acting career as a waitress alongside Elvis Presley in the film Clambake in 1967. In 1968 Dusay played a special agent in the TV series Hawaii Five-O as well as a seductive temptress on Hogan's Heroes. She made numerous guest appearances on popular television shows in the late 1960s and 1970s, including as the alien Kara in "Spock's Brain", the third-season opening episode of Star Trek. Dusay starred as Jean MacArthur in the 1977 film MacArthur and guest-starred as Blair Warner's mother, Monica Warner, on The Facts of Life. She began her long career on daytime TV April 1983 on the soap opera Capitol and to date has appeared on five other soap operas as well. In 1995 Dusay was nominated for the Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" for her role in the soap The Guiding Light.

· Leslie Winfield Halbe (October 3, 1893 - April 13, 1981) was born in Russell, Kansas. His family moved to Dorrance, Kansas by the time he was two. Working at his father's candy shop in 1908, the 15-year-old Halbe discovered a small box camera among the shelves. Curious, he began to take pictures and worked for four years as a commercial photographer. The self-taught teenager snapped pictures all over Dorrance and surrounding Russell and Ellsworth Counties. In 1912 Halbe left Kansas to attain a law degree and abandoned photography. He later settled in Florida and worked as an appraiser until his death in 1981. But from 1908 to 1912 Halbe created more than 1,500 images that have since appeared in Time-Life publications and in exhibits by the Smithsonian Institution and the Kansas Historical Society. Despite his lack of training and modest equipment, Halbe's work was of exceptional technical quality. He achieved a close rapport with his subjects that yielded natural expressions and poses and created a remarkable portrait of Kansas during the transition from the 19th to the 20th century. A brief interlude in a young man's life, Halbe's photography brilliantly captured a Kansas that is frozen in time.

· Asa Kinney (May 21, 1810 – October 3, 1886) was born in Homer, New York. In 1836 Asa moved to Wisconsin and was a member of the last Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin. He participated in the 1846 Wisconsin Constitutional Convention and was noted for good, solid sense, but not for speech making. Asa then served in the Wisconsin State Senate. In 1853 he left Wisconsin and settled in Plumas County, California, where he worked at mining and was elected State Assemblyman in 1854. Later Asa went back to Wisconsin and served as sergeant-at-arms for the Wisconsin State Senate in 1859 and 1860. With the Civil War broke out Asa volunteered as a private in the Ripon Rifles and was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant. He was discharged due to ill health but recovered and was then commissioned both First Lieutenant and Quartermaster in the First Wisconsin Cavalry. After the war Asa served on the Ripon (Wisconsin) City Council and as Street Commissioner before traveling through Central America and Mexico. In 1871 Kinney became part of the Northwestern Colony, which left Ripon and founded the city of Russell, Kansas in April 1871. Asa served as City Clerk, City Police Judge, Clerk of the District Court, and then Justice of the Peace for a number of years. He died at the age of 76 in Russell.

· Elmo John & Kenneth James Mahoney (October 29, 1908 - February 7, 1979 & August 24, 1924 - January 31, 2010) were brothers who were both born in Dorrance, Kansas. Elmo was a star basketball player and graduate of Kansas State University and later became a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He farmed his entire life in the Dorrance area and was named the Kansas Wheat King in 1938. Elmo was a president of the Russell County Farm Bureau, served as mayor of Dorrance and was a member of the Dorrance Lions Club and Dorrance School Board, as well as a president of the Lake Wilson Development Association. Elmo organized and helped promote the first Wilson Czech Festival and Threshing Bee in Wilson, Kansas. In 1949-1950 he served in the Kansas Legislature House of Representatives and later worked as a Kansas state grain inspector and was a consultant in the United States Department of Agriculture during the Kennedy Administration. His proficiency at engineering led him to invent the long-life sickle drive used on 18-22 foot harvester combine header and together with his younger brother Kenneth they invented and manufactured the famous basketball and baseball Toss Back device as well as the automatic relief basketball goal (the breakaway rim), both of which revolutionized sports at all levels. Elmo served as the first curator and manager for the National Agricultural Hall of Fame at Bonner Springs, Kansas and was a charter member of the Kansas Flying Farmers. Elmo was also a nationally-recognized authority on Avery steam and gasoline threshing rigs. His collection of Avery catalogs, literature, pictures and memorabilia was one of the largest in the country.

Kenneth graduated from Dorrance High School in 1942 and served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After the war he enrolled at Kansas State University and was played on the 1947-1948 basketball team that finished fourth in the country. From there Ken returned to Dorrance and took up farming while teaching junior high and also coached. He spent some time in Sierra Leone, West Africa in the Peace Corps. In the 1960s he and brother Elmo developed the famous Toss Back device that became a must-have device in the sports world and in the private home. The brothers also invented a breakaway basketball rim to be used on basketball goals, as too many were being shattered when players dunked the basketball. The National Basketball Association began using their rim exclusively, and soon they were being installed in high school and college basketball arenas around the world. Kenneth also redesigned the basketball backboard to make it safer for players, reducing injuries dramatically. Kenneth was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

· Arlen Specter (February 12, 1930 – October 14, 2012) was born in Wichita, Kansas. The Specter family moved to Russell, Kansas, during World War II. Arlen graduated from Russell High School and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. He served with the United States Air Force as a first lieutenant during the Korean War and later graduated from Yale Law School. Specter served as assistant counsel for the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy and helped devise the "single-bullet theory. He was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia in 1965. In 1980 Specter was elected to the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania and served five consecutive terms. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in early 2005 but with treatment survived. In 2006 Arlen was selected by Time Magazine as one of America's Ten Best Senators. In 2011 he became an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and taught a course so popular that the National Jurist named him as one of the "23 professors to take before you die". Arlen died of complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Businesses:

· Brant's Market – Lucas, Kansas. Antonin Brant was born in 1857 in Pectin, Czechoslovakia. He met and married Katerina Selaceh, who was born 1856 in Nedanice, Czechoslovakia. Ultimately unhappy with the Czech government, Antonin and Katerina boarded the freighter Kolen and sailed for America, arriving in Houston, Texas on March 17, 1907. They then bought a farm near Wilson, Kansas and settled down to life in a new country. In 1917 the Brants moved to a farm north of Lucas, Kansas. After their retirement son Edmund took over the farm. Another son, James, had learned the butcher's trade in Bohemia. On April 17, 1922, he bought a meat market in Lucas from R. M. Skaggs. Skaggs had purchased the market a month earlier from Harris & Sons, who originally opened the market in 1912. James renamed it Brant's Meat Market, using recipes from the old country for homemade Czech ring bologna and smoked link sausages. James operated the market until his retirement on June 1, 1935, and his sons Frank & George continued the business. Frank passed away on June 11, 1971. George carried on until July 1, 1985, when son and daughter-in-law Douglas & Linda Brant became the third generation family proprietors. In 2015 their daughter Stephanie began working in the market and became the fourth generation family owner. Brant's Meat Market was named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce in 2008. It was known nationwide and celebrated its 95th year in business in April 2017. In June 2018 new owners Adam & Ashley Comreau took over the business. Now called Brant's Market, it continues its sterling tradition of dependable quality after nearly a century of customer service.

· Lucky Seven Oil Company – Fairport, Kansas. In Russell County, as in many areas in western Kansas, there was considerable activity in leasing oil and gas as early as 1917. By the early 1920s hard times had come to Russell County, Kansas. A group of local men, calling themselves the Lucky Seven Oil Company, decided to speculate on their dream that oil lay beneath the prairie, an absurd idea for which they were routinely laughed at. The seven men were: George F. Dawson, a Russell pharmacist and a director in the Russell State Bank; Charles E. Hall, a Russell real estate investor and insurance broker; Joe and Frank Liggett, Butler County, Kansas oil operators and ranchers; Jesse E. Missimer, Russell State Bank board member; Alvin E. Seeley, rancher and oil operator; and Charles W. Shaffer, former president and board chairman and current cashier of the Home State Bank in Russell. If they were right, they would all be very rich. If they lost, they would lose everything they owned. The Lucky Seven leased farmland on the Ed Oswald ranch located two miles south of the community of Fairport. There the Valerius Oil and Gas Company "spudded in" a well in July 1923 and on Thanksgiving Day, 1923, the cable tool bit rammed into an oil deposit at a depth of around 3,000 feet, giving birth to Russell County's first oil-producing well, the Carrie Oswald No. 1. The output of the well was at first about 175 barrels of oil a day, then rose to 240 barrels, and with pumping maintained a steady yield for nearly six months at about 200 barrels a day. This well was the first oil-producing well in Kansas west of El Dorado, Kansas, with the nearest oil refinery then being over 120 miles away to the east in Marion County, Kansas. Six wells were immediately sunk on the farmland, then referred to as the Oswald Oil Field; as the area developed this would later be renamed the Fairport Oil Field. Oil speculation then ran rampant as oilmen from all over the United States poured into the region, and the Gorham Oil Field to the south was opened in 1925. In all 150 wells were sunk on lands that the Lucky Seven had leased in the area, and they were the ones laughing now. This strike marked the beginning of both the oil and natural gas industries in western Kansas, from which Russell County and the entire state have greatly prospered over the decades. As of 2004 the Fairport Oil Field had produced over 58 million barrels of petroleum and continues to be productive. A monument commemorating the great event can be visited a few miles south of Fairport at the Carrie Oswald No. 1 well site. The Oil Patch Museum in Russell, Kansas tells the story of the Lucky Seven and drilling of the Carrie Oswald No. 1.

· Myers Furniture – Russell, Kansas. Still in its original 1898 location, Myers Furniture has been an economic mainstay of Russell and Russell County for the past 120 years. The main building was built in 1898 by James W. Blair, who operated the store until 1936, when Jacob Eichman and Charlie Myers bought it. The partnership of Eichman and Myers continued until 1946, when Myers enlisted in the military and sold his share to Eichman. Five years later Charlie Myers returned to Russell and purchased the store from Jacob Eichman. He then renamed it Myers Furniture and it has been in the Myers family ever since. In 1971 Charlie's son Martin "Marty" Myers joined the firm. Under current owner Marty Myers the store now encompasses three buildings and five stories of inventory on Main Street in Russell.

· Post Insurance, Inc.– Paradise, Kansas. Post Insurance, Inc. was started in 1939 by Henry L. Post, whose main focus was life, health and accident insurance. He acquired another agency in 1942 and expanded to include property & casualty coverages. As the business grew it was incorporated in 1968 and the name was changed to Post Insurance, Inc. In 1970 John and Garnett Angel, who were agents for Post, purchased controlling interest in the business and additional staff was added, necessitating a larger space to conduct business. Construction of a new building was completed in 1977. In 1994 agents Dan and Mona Hoisington purchased the business, retaining the name which had a strong reputation for personal service. After 79 years this independent agency was sold in 2017 to Heritage Insurance Group of Stockton, Kansas. The name Post Insurance was retired and on October 1, 2018, the agency's office was moved from Paradise to Russell, Kansas.

· Radke Implement, Inc. – Milberger, Kansas. Herman Radke was just 22 years old in 1925 when he and his father started the Ed Radke & Son, dealers in Massie Ferguson Farm Equipment, on Ed's farm in Lincoln Township, Russell County, Kansas. In 1931 Herman took over the business and renamed it the Radke Farm Implement Company. He moved the business a half mile south to the community of Milberger. Herman operated the business for 39 years. His son Harlan started with the company when only a child and upon Herman's retirement in 1970 took over the business. In 1988 the company was renamed Radke Implement, Inc. and opened a branch office near Hays, Kansas. On August 27, 1989, a devastating fire heavily damaged the parts & office building and destroyed another, causing $600,000 in damage. But the next day Harlan was at the counter of the roofless store and selling parts to anxious farmers. That kind of service and dedication to its customers has made the Radke Farm Implement Company one of the best known agricultural businesses in Kansas. Today the company is the only farm equipment dealer left in Russell County and continues to be a success in service and sales at Hays and Milberger, where Harlan Radke has been the owner/store manager for 48 years.

Organizations or Events:

· Amherst United Methodist Church – In 1879 the Union Sunday School was formed in the home of Mrs. Emma Ingham in northern Waldo Township, Russell County, Kansas. In 1884 a circuit rider minister stopped and held a service in the nearby Thomas A. Beatty home. After a time it was decided that a church congregation should be organized and also operate the Sunday School. In the spring of 1887 the Amherst Evangelical Church was organized with 9 charter members. On February 18, 1906, the first church building was formally dedicated. In 2012 the frame church celebrated its 125th anniversary. The Amherst United Methodist Church is located four miles south and two miles east of Waldo, Kansas and is the only active rural church organization in the northern half of Russell County.

· K-18 Baseball Association – Lucas, Kansas. The K-18 Baseball Association was the brainchild of Al Ziegler of Lucas, a lifelong baseball fan who made the stated goal of the Association to make organized baseball available to every child, ages 12 to 15, inclusive, providing children of this age group with a supervised summer sports program, thereby defeating the forces of juvenile delinquency. Under the banner "The Players Will Be Grateful!" the organization was organized in Lucas in the spring of 1949 and was named after the nearby Kansas Highway 18. The ten charter member teams were from towns along Highway 18 – Ada, Bennington, Beverly, Lincoln, Lucas, Minneapolis, Paradise, Sylvan Grove, Tescott and Vesper. In just five years there were 69 teams across the state, and by the mid-1960s the Association boasted 142 teams at its peak. The annual state tournament as been held in Lucas for the past 67 years.

· Luray Fish Fry – Luray, Kansas. The Luray Fish Fry has been sponsored by the Luray United Methodist Church since 1939, making it the longest-running annual public event in Russell County. A fundraiser for church activities, the event is put on with the help of the entire community. The meal remains the same that was served at the first event – great fish, baked potato, coleslaw, green beans, hot rolls, homemade cherry or apple pie and a beverage. At one point the Fish Fry served to crowds of 1,000 to 1,500 people, and today it still draws a good crowd of several hundred hungry customers each year. The 80th edition of this tradition was held on in March 2018 at the Luray American Legion Hall, with an estimated crowd of 700 served.

· Smoky Hills Public Television Corporation – Bunker Hill, Kansas. The non-profit Smoky Hills Public Television Corporation was founded in 1978, with the intent to start a non-commercial educational television station in western Kansas. It is part of the Wichita-Hutchinson market that covers over 70 counties stretching from the Flint Hills to the Colorado border, making it the largest public television market area by number of counties in the United States. Flagship station KOOD signed on the air on November 10, 1982, followed by satellite stations KSWK Lakin (1989), KDCK Dodge City (1998) and KWKS Colby (2007). For the past forty years the network has produced public affairs programming and holds the broadcast rights to several Kansas high school athletic championship events sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. The offices and network operations center are located in a historic native stone building in Bunker Hill. The potential viewership since 2005 has been estimated at over 1.5 million people across Kansas and Nebraska.

· Paradise-Waldo Lions Club – Waldo, Kansas. The Waldo Lions Club was chartered in 1954. The organization started both the Natoma-Paradise-Waldo Fire Department and the Waldo Senior Center. For 64 years the organization sponsored a Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack, collected old eyeglasses for the Sight Foundation, provided Christmas treats for children, sponsored area high school musicians to the Lions State and International Band, and sponsored a high school junior boy to Boys State. Fund-raising projects included the Lions Activity Calendar, pancake suppers, and ice cream socials. The Club not only hosted the community soup supper in January and the pancake supper in March, but also an ice cream social during the summer and a annual Christmas party for the community. Donations from these events helped them provide scholarships to area graduating high school seniors. In more recent years the Waldo chapter merged with Paradise to form the Paradise-Waldo Lions Club and remains a striking example of how to keep a community alive.

(Information courtesy Blue Hills Heritage Foundation.)

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