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A colorful business
Punting into history
Newton woman hosts craft weekends at home
Rural Newton painter creates fantasy/science-fiction art
Local athlete entering the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame
From the Publisher VOLUME 3 • NUMBER 2
CO-EDITORS Don Ratzlaff Wendy Nugent
FEATURES, PHOTOGRAPHY Wendy Nugent Kelley DeGraffenreid Clint Harden
SALES Bruce Behymer
CREATIVE Shelley Plett
PUBLISHED BY Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC Joey Young, Publisher 116 S. Main, Hillsboro, KS 67063 620-947-5702
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HarveyCountyNOW.com does not knowingly publish or accept advertisements that are misleading or fraudulent. Publisher reserves the right to cancel or reject any advertisements. Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC does not assume any financial responsibility for typos in ads. If at fault, however, Kansas Publishing will reprint any portion of the advertisement where there is an error. Location of ads, size of type and style are left to the discretion of the publisher. Opinions in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. ©2014 Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC.
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ow, has life been crazy the last quarter. As you have probably noticed, we launched another free Harvey County Now magazine (we know, because you are reading this—smart, right?), but also a brand new weekly newspaper with accompanying website called Newton Now. Bringing on Wendy Nugent full-time and adding talented staffers like Clint Harden and Adam Strunk made our presence in Newton and Harvey County even better. We are doing different stuff. In our effort to seek out others doing what we were doing, we found companies throughout the country doing similar things but not quite anything like what we were attempting to do. Joey Young, Publisher While we couldn’t find any exact comparables, the exercise exposed our company to other people who are just as passionate as we are and enjoy this job just as much, too. Journalism is alive and well depending on where you look. The national media loves to preach doom and gloom, but they always have, if we really think about it. The truth is, if you do all the right things for all the right reasons and you have the know-how and passion, you can accomplish amazing things. I think Newton Now is pretty neat. I think The Edge and Harvey County Now are too. We are going to continue to innovate and do new things. I hope you have had a chance to take in our first few editions of Newton Now, and I hope you continue to enjoy Harvey County Now every quarter. We really enjoy bringing it and hope you share the same passion we have for it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
8 Colorful Hesston woman has craft events in Newton
12 Numbers man
Assistant city manager enjoys serving the people
23 14 Jake Goering North Newton man enjoys his life
Sports Moorman to be inducted into Kansas Sports Hall of Fame
ON THE COVER: Newton Ukulele Tunes Society member Barrick Wilson enjoys playing with the group. Photo by Wendy Nugent / Harvey County Now
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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
ab o u t u s m ic Newton Ukulele Tunes Society spreads the joy
hen some musicians play, they look extremely happy, with big ol’ smiles on their faces, like they’re doing something they
love. Those same kinds of grins were on the mugs of players in the Newton Ukulele Tunes Society, or NUTS as they like to be called, while they rehearsed with singer Pam Barthell for a fundraiser they had planned to do in June for Peace Connections. “It’s joyful for me,” NUTS member Barrick Wilson of Newton said about playing. “The Hawaiian word for ukulele means jumping flea — if you can imagine playing a jumping flea. For me, there’s hardly any novelty to it, but when we get going on a song, it’s a great feeling.” Wilson has played this “jumping flea” for more than 50 years. “Barrick started playing ukulele the year I was born, and I didn’t start playing until I was 53,” said Marva Weigelt, 56, group founder and leader. “She’s far better than I am,” Wilson said. “And I can ‘amen’ that because she’s in my building,” Barthell said with a smile. The group had rehearsal on an extremely warm day in June at The Carriage Factory Gallery in Newton, surrounded by colorful art
and people who stopped to listen to the lively group that has members ranging in age from 22 to 71. Weigelt played a custom-made uke, while other players had instruments of various sizes. Weigelt’s uke was crowd funded by 50 people. “You can specify every detail of it, and you have to wait a year for it,” she said. “(The) tag inside says ‘love’ because this is a love ukulele.” NUTS started in 2012 after then co-owner of Prairie Harvest, Becky Nickel, asked Weigelt to get “uke” players together to perform Christmas carols and have a carol sing-along
They then started having an open mike on the Third Thursday event in downtown Newton, either at Prairie Harvest or the Carriage Factory Gallery. They’ve also played at Peace Connections. Now, the group has a number of core members, besides Weigelt and Wilson, including J.D. Lee, 27; Danny Barrera, 22; and Ray Nicodemus, 68. “We love music,” Weigelt said. “It’s kinda one of the highlights of my week is playing with you guys.” The musicians have an “interesting practice group,” Weigelt said. “(We are) folks who are a little obsessed with music and can show up every week.” They call their core group Handful of NUTS, while those who show up at a jam session are assimilated into NUTS. “They become NUTS when they show up with a ukulele,” Weigelt said. Uke players ranging in age from 4 through their 80s have jammed with them. The largest number they’ve had at a session is around 10. One girl, who was 8, was watching the group, and someone told her she should’ve brought her ukulele. She said she did, and it was hidden under a table. They tuned her uke, which the girl said she purchased with
“This is the first group where there’s no discipline at all.” at the store in Newton. Weigelt estimated four to six players showed up for the event that took place around Thanksgiving. “I was a newbie and had just started playing the year before,” Weigelt said. “It was pretty ragged for a while.”
.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... LEFT: From left, back, Danny Barrera and Marva Weigelt, with Ray Nicodemus, left front, and Barrick Wilson, right front, enjoy themselves on a summer evening at The Carriage Factory Gallery in Newton. HarveyCountyNOW.com | 5
..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... ABOVE: Newton Ukulele Tunes Society members Ray Nicodemus, left, and Marva Weigelt perform during the summer at The Carriage Factory Gallery in Newton. BELOW: Some of the group’s sheet music.
Christmas money, and played “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” with her because it only has two chords, making it easier for the young beginner. In addition to getting to play music together, what members of NUTS also like about the group is it crosses political, generational and religious lines. “Music is the common ground,” Weigelt
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said. “Music is the language that we all (have) in common.” “No age barriers for sure,” 63-year-old Barthell added. Wilson, 71, who also plays piano, tenor banjo, bass guitar and mandolin, has another reason for enjoying the group. “I like to play with this group because you’re not like a rock and roll band — you don’t have to play the same three chords and don’t have to play the same 35 songs to appease a dance crowd.” In the ’60s, Wilson played bass guitar and had to play whatever was popular with that band — they played a set. “So, I got with this group, and I never know what we’re going to play,” he said. Barrera, who also plays the saxophone and acoustic guitar, has his own reasons for liking the group. “For me, music has always been a strict discipline/art,” he said. “This is the first group where there’s no discipline at all.” In addition, he likes being around people of other generations, and the music he’s listened to has expanded. One of the youngest members, Lee, is already there with the music, and that’s what he likes about the group.
“We actually play music that I listen to,” he said, which is from the 1960s and 1970s. Lee also plays a variety of instruments — anything that’s not a wind instrument, he said. “I can’t handle the spit,” Lee said. “Everybody’s gotta have boundaries,” Weigelt added. When performing, Weigelt plays lead if they don’t have a vocalist, or she or Nicodemus sing. The other instrument Weigelt plays is the kazoo; she’s a certified kazoo player. NUTS has performed in a variety of places, such as at a wedding reception, for the Kiwanis Club, Kauffman Museum and at Comfort Care Home. One Wednesday per month, they present a show at the Home, where snacks are served. They play covers, as no one has written any original tunes for the group. However, this is not out of the question, as Lee is a songwriter. But before any of this happened, Weigelt and Barrera made a ukulele connection at Peace Connections in Newton, where they both worked, and Nicodemus loaned a uke to Barrera. “Ukulele is a kind of musical virus,” Weigelt said, laughing. “And I’ve caught it, and I’m a carrier.”
HarveyCountyNOW.com | 7
A colorful Hesston woman has craft weekends at Newton house Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
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hatever. One word can hold different meanings. Depending on the tone that’s used, “whatever” can be an apathetic answer from a teenager or it could mean “you decide” when one spouse answers another after hearing, “What do you want for dinner?” In the case of Meg Duerksen, “Whatever” is the name of her blog, which she started about eight years ago when that type of creative communication was “kinda new,” she said. This “whatever” is colorful and carries with it writings of family, crafts, decorating, faith and trips. This “whatever” includes descriptions and photos of what’s important and exciting to Duerksen. During the summer, she wrote about a trip she and her husband took to Chicago, where they went to a U2 concert. She also typed about the family’s mini campout, softball, a kid’s bedroom, kitchen cleaning and crafts for kids. “I blog about anything and everything,” said Duerksen, who is quick to smile.
........................................... LEFT: The living room is adorned with splashes of color against a neutral backdrop. FAR LEFT: Meg Duerksen sits at one of the dining room tables in the Craft House. ABOVE: The home at 215 E. First has a grand entrance.
business This blog also was the starting point for Whatever Craft Weekend. The Hesston resident said through her blog she had a group of friends from “all over,” including California, Oklahoma and Alabama. She invited them to her home — the family lived in a large home in Newton at the time — to meet, hang out and make crafts. “They all came for the weekend, and we (had) never met,” Duerksen said. “We all got together, and it was really wonderful.” Afterward, she blogged about the fun weekend, and readers told her they wanted to do that, too. The first Craft Weekend as a business was in September 2011, and the
craft weekend with her online friends was a few months before that. “Craft Weekend was so good,” Duerksen wrote on her blog Sept. 12, 2011, after the first event as a business. “So fun. So funny. So relaxed. So yummy. So special. So colorful.” Under a selfie of her driving a van packed with goodies, Duerksen wrote, “That is a 15passenger van! It was like driving the bus to Happy Land.” “At first, I thought it was kinda crazy,” Duerksen said about having strangers come over, but then she realized readers knew her from reading about her, so she started having retreat weekends. The first one was
wonderful, she said. “We immediately had a huge wait list,” she added. “We ended up moving out of (the house) to do this here.” The family vacated that 5,000-square-foot, three-story home next to the Warkentin House on East First in Newton to live in Hesston. She and husband Craig grew up in Hillsboro, so they wanted to raise their five children in a town smaller than Newton. “It allowed us to move our kids to smaller schools,” Duerksen said. It also allowed them to use the Newton house for events. Duerksen and Kimberlee Jost team up, having a Craft Weekend about HarveyCountyNOW.com | 9
...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... These crafting supplies grace the foyer of the home of East First Street.
once a month, although they took this past summer off. They also have helpers. Jost takes care of event details and food, while Duerksen is busy with other matters. “I do all the crafts and the house,” Duerksen said. “I take care of the house.” For each Craft Weekend, Jost randomly draws people on the wait list to attend. Then, they’re contacted to see if they can, indeed, go. “They come from all over,” Duerksen said, like Canada, the Dominican Republic and mostly from the United States. They fly in on Friday and are picked up at a Wichita airport together. Sometimes, the gals drive themselves to the craft home. “We just hang out here for the weekend and eat great meals, and we start making crafts right away,” Duerksen said. Their first project is a colorful ruffle apron, which is a project a woman, regardless of her sewing experience, can do. They eat a great dinner and start on the apron. “When you’re crafting together, it’s not so awkward in being with people you don’t know,” Duerksen said. “They’re always so happy to be here. They’re happy to have a break from every day.” On Saturday morning, the group can continue work on the aprons, and then they head to Bearly Makin’ It Antiques in Marion. “I love the store,” Duerksen said. In fact, the shop made the dining room tables and benches for the craft house.
10 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
The antique store has two buildings, one of which is an old mill. The group has lunch in Marion, and then Jost makes dinner back at the craft house. All evening Saturday, they work on more crafts and go home Sunday. “(It) started out as ‘we’ll see if this works’ to doing 30 of them,” Duerksen said. Each time, 12 guests are invited, and during the first weekend, attending was a lawyer from New York City who was educated at Harvard. “She had a great time,” Duerksen said. Duerksen loves crafts and is doing something about which she’s passionate. She gets ideas from many places, like Pinterist and other online sources, and magazines. “I like the way it makes me feel — like I know I’m made to create,” she said. “If I’m sewing or painting or drawing, I just feel the most myself when I’m doing those things. Everybody has their thing, and that’s what it is for me.” The home’s five bedrooms can accommodate 16, and there are three and a half baths. Attendees craft in the home’s large former dining area. The cost is $575 per person, which is all inclusive, except for travel. To get on the waiting list, visit Duerksen’s blog at megduerksen.com. The entire home is decorated in a feminine way with splashes of color everywhere. A bedroom and bathroom are decked out in pink. Even stairs between the first and second floors are painted rainbow
colors, which is Duerksen’s favorite color combo. Single beds are bright colors, and there are colorful craft supplies in the foyer. A collection of globes adorns light-tinted cabinet tops in the kitchen while art, pillows, antiques, painted wooden chairs, wall decorations, quilts on beds, maps and other decorations provide explosions of color against neutral backdrops. “That’s who it’s for — it’s for women’s groups,” Duerksen said. The globe collection started with one. “(I thought), ‘Oh, it’d be fun,’ and now they’re everywhere — and the maps, too,” Duerksen said. One map of the United States, comprised of teal, peach, black, white, green, pink and orange on a wall, has pins in it representing where some past retreat-goers are from. Most of the pins are in the Midwest, and then they branch out mostly toward the east. Duerksen combines her love of color and her faith in a wall decoration that has on it rainbow colors and words to Philippians 4:8. The groundwork for the business started when the family moved from the Chicago area to the Craft House (it wasn’t the Craft House then) in 2004. At the time, their oldest was 10 and the youngest a newborn. “So all those good, good years (with the children being younger), we were here,” Duerksen said. “It was great to have five kids in this big house.” They redid everything — every room,
every wall, taking down wallpaper that was in each room. The current dining room was a closed-in porch, so they took that wall out, and the kitchen area doubled in size in this home built in 1903. When they lived there, that portion of the house was an open concept kitchen/family room. When Duerksen was in the kitchen, the kids played in the family room. They also redid the floors. “We did all the painting and wallpaper,” Duerksen said, adding they hired a contractor to do the big jobs. “You can only do so much with limited knowledge and five little kids,” she said. For five years, the family of seven shared one bathroom, and then they added two full baths. They moved out in 2012, and the children are 10 years older. Now, they’re 20, 17, 15, 13 and 10. In addition to Craft Weekend events, Duerksen started Camp Create, which is similar but longer — it goes from Wednesday to Sunday, and there’s a speaker every day. The time also is more spiritual, and attendees learn an art skill. This year, the speaker will discuss “gifts of creativity and God’s unique design for us,” Duerksen said. They’ve only put on one camp. The next camp will be in September. “I think we may do more of these,” Duerksen said. The house also can be rented for $1,500 per weekend. In the past, they’ve rented to crafters, quilters, scrapbookers, church groups for retreats and businesses. Other than holidays, the home is about half full the rest of the year. It’s also a cozier, homier place for people attending weddings in the area to stay. “We would love to fill the house the other weekends,” Duerksen said.
............................................................................... This bedroom, which is one of five in the Craft House, sleeps four.
HarveyCountyNOW.com | 11
A numbers man Lunda Asmani believes in ‘bringing democracy to people’s doorsteps’
unda Asmani likes to serve — he enjoys serving on the tennis court, and he finds purpose in serving the Newton community as assistant city manager for budget and finance. Of course, these two kinds of serving are quite different. Asmani loves tennis, he said, and plays it when he has time and when the weather is right. Much of his time, however, is taken up with his job. Asmani said one of his roles is to support elected city officials. “People elect them to put their plans and visions in place, and our goal is to help them do that,” he said, sitting in his office one July afternoon. One thing Asmani likes about his job is he sees it as stewardship. “It’s a job that allows me to be a steward of these resources,” he said. Asmani makes sure people helping the
public have the resources they need, like workers who clear the streets and pick tree limbs following rain or snow storms, and those who pick up trash weekly. People spend tax dollars, and city staff want to make sure the money is spent well and wise, Asmani said. “The expectation is these funds they’ve worked hard for will be spent wisely and prioritized,” Asmani said. “That’s what part of my role is — to make sure that happens.” Another part of the job Asmani enjoys is working with elected officials, answering their questions and meeting their needs, he said. His goal to to help them achieve the goals they promised the people they’d pursue. “I love working with elected officials and (seeing) different people from different walks of life coming together and helping them make decisions,” he said. The assistant city manager also works with
others outside the city offices. “(My job) does allow me to engage in the broader community outside the city,” he said. This includes working with partner agencies and being the city’s liaison in various groups, such as Newton Young Professionals and the United Way board. In other words, the job doesn’t disconnect him from the community he serves. “It does give me that opportunity to work directly with members of the community,” he said. He gets to roll up his sleeves and work alongside citizens as they do the same. Asmani, who in May just celebrated being with the city for five years, so far has fond memories working with the city. “For me, it’s budget,” he said. “Budget development is always interesting. Every budget cycle has different challenges, and I enjoy going through those challenges with different stakeholders — different groups of
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... ABOVE: As assistant city manager for budget and finance with the city of Newton, Lunda P. Asmani works with numbers. He just celebrated his five-year employment mark with the city in May. RIGHT: Lunda Asmani, right, listens to city council member Kathy Valentine, left, during a council work session with the city in May. 12 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
people that are equally passionate about issues that are near and dear to them.” Budget planning is the one time the process itself is designed to engage people, Asmani said. “Every year, I’m fascinated at the end of the process when I look back,” he said. Asmani’s other duties include overseeing human resource functions, risk management and customer service in utility billing. Asmani also likes working on the city government level, since citizens are physically close to elected officials — they can run into them at the grocery store or see them at a local play. “It’s fun,” he said about his job. “It doesn’t get boring.” Asmani started his public service career with his mentor, Bill Buchanan, who recently retired as manager for Sedgwick County. “He offered me my first public service opportunity,” Asmani said. “He’s the one who
got me started in this business, and he’s remained a very good friend.” Asmani was a management intern in the Sedgwick County manager’s office. “(Buchanan’s) motto was, ‘Delivering democracy to people’s doorsteps,’” Asmani said. “And that’s how he summarizes what we do, and I’ve kinda taken that to heart.” Asmani also credits his faith as a Christian as having a great influence on him. “Faith is a big influence in what I do and how I do it,” he said. “Part of (my philosophy of life) has to do with my faith. Knowing who you are and whose you are — once you get that figured out — everything else is secondary.” Asmani’s philosophy on life has other aspects. “Don’t take myself too seriously, because other people don’t,” he said. He also cited what he called the Platinum Rule — do unto others as they would want
done unto them. “In order to do that, you need to get to know people,” Asmani said — to know them genuinely so you can gauge how to treat them. Asmani likes Newton. “Newton’s a very caring community,” he said. “I also like that Newton is a growing community. Communities that are growing always have growing challenges and pains, but those challenges and pains are necessary. I do enjoy dealing with those.” He also likes how diverse Newton is — diverse in backgrounds, ages, socioeconomic status and life experiences. “And so we truly are not all the same,” he added. “Diversity in this community, I think, is something that is not appreciated, understood or known by most people that do live and work here,” he said. Like some other people working or residing in Newton, Asmani definitely has unique life experiences. He was born in Tanzania, East Africa, to parents who worked for the Foreign Service, and he grew up mostly in Europe. Now, he and his wife, Katina, and two children, Isaiah, 12, and Kristina, 8, reside in Sedgwick County. Asmani spent most of his school years in the United States and Europe. He did his undergraduate work, in which he majored in urban planning and minored in economics, in Tanzania, and then moved to Wichita, where he earned a master’s degree in public administration from Wichita State University. As he grew up, Asmani lived in several countries, such as Italy, Belgium and France, and visited many others, such as Germany and Russia. He developed many friendships with people from other cultures, and it was interesting to experience their food, he said. “Traveling has always been big in the family,” Asmani said. “Those are just some of my favorite childhood memories — exploring the world. I feel like my childhood was a living lesson in world cultures. I really enjoyed that. That was pretty cool.”
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Jake Goering influenced by Dr. Carl Rogers Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
he year Jacob “Jake” Goering was born — 1918 — was the last year of World War 1. At 97, he has seen many historic events come to pass. “I’m getting close to 100,” Goering said, laughing. “It scares me.” He was born just a few years after the Titanic sank, and was around during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the assassination of President Kennedy and later Kennedy’s brother Robert, and several wars, including World War II, Cold War, Vietnam, Korea and the War on Terror. Although he was old enough to fight during World War II, Goering served his country as a conscientious objector after graduating from Bethel College in North Newton in 1941. “Then the war was on, you know,” the retired psychologist said from his comfortable chair at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton as the soft afternoon light cast shadows on his face. Goering said he worked in Civilian Public Service, and during his first year was an assistant director of a camp in Oregon with the forest service. He spent almost four years in the CPS at different camps, also including two years with the forest service in California and time in Illinois with a soil conversation camp.
During this time, he was married to Beth, who passed away in 2011. They met at Bethel College when he had to get a vaccination at the nurse’s office. Beth Eldridge, her name at the time, at the time, was in front of him in line. The nurse introduced them. “I watched her walk off, and I thought, ‘That’s somebody to really pay attention to,’ and then I asked her for a date about two weeks later,” Goering said. “It just gradually developed.” Beth graduated a year before Goering did; they were married in August 1941. “The war was on, and we decided we’d get married and face the war together,” Goering said, horizontally pumping his fist. Beth was a dietician at Axtell Hospital in Newton at the time; she quit that position to get a job in a town close to where Goering was at camp. “And we could see each other a weekend or two every month,” said Goering, who is Mennonite. His first two paying jobs after graduating from Bethel were being assistant director and psychologist for eight years at a mental hospital run by Mennonite Central Committee and then at a Maryland hospital
for eights years as a psychologist. He received his doctorate in human development from the University of Maryland, although he had started those studies at the University of Chicago, and was trained as a human development counselor. Human development is the interdisciplinary study of sociology, psychology and physiology, Goering said, counting them off on three fingers. He also had training in psychotherapy. “What influenced me most (professionally) was Dr. Carl Rogers,” Goering said, adding Rogers was famous for his approach to psychology. Rogers taught at Ohio State University and later worked as a professor and executive secretary of the Counseling Center at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, Goering said Rogers had a year’s course on non-directive counseling (also called clientcentered counseling). “The point is I’m not here to tell you; I’m
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In addition to providing professional guidance, Rogers’ teachings also have implications in personal conduct, Goering said. For instance, when talking to someone socially, ask them questions about themselves instead of going on and on about oneself. “I was very, very lucky,” Goering said. “Very fortunate in my education.” While getting his doctorate, Goering taught at the University of Maryland and then continued teaching in its Department of Human Development for 26 years. At one point, he had a Fulbright scholarship to teach in Germany for six months, where he taught classes using English, although he also can speak German. He retired from the University of Maryland and managed a private practice from 1983 to 1996. He and Beth moved from Maryland to Kidron Bethel in independent living, and now he resides there in an assisted-living apartment. Goering and Beth had three ............................................................................................... children: Dan, who has been a Jake Goering, left, talks to Ashley Moseley, director of social worker and resides in rehab at Kidron Bethel Village. Maryland; Barbara, who’s been a lawyer in Chicago; and Kathleen, a here to learn what’s inside of you,” Goering retired teacher living in Maryland. said about that approach to therapy. “My kids are retired,” Goering said. “Can This type of counseling involves finding out you believe it? I’m getting old.” who the client really is — that is what Rogers Family is what Goering is most proud of in taught Goering. his life. “Rogers is a leading figure within “I feel proud of the fact that I met my wife, psychotherapy and developed a breaking and she agreed to marry me,” he said. “We had theory of personality development,” according to Muskingum.edu. “This theory developed as a a wonderful marriage. It lasted 69 years. All three of my children did very, very well.” result of Rogers’ frustration with the Like any good grandparent, Goering is authoritative analysis that therapists were imposing upon their patients. He is well known proud of his grandchildren, too. One granddaughter works for the United Nations in for his emphasis on personal awareness and Africa and a grandson is in charge of a allowing clients to have increasing flexibility in government agency in Washington, D.C. determining the treatment. Rogers believed Goering couldn’t think of any regrets he has that it was important for the individual to learn in life, except to say he wasn’t sure if he to understand himself and make independent wronged anyone — but if he did, he’s sorry. choices that are significant in understanding One regret he doesn’t have, however, is not the problem.” marrying a young woman with whom he was in
love in his teens. At one point, he told a friend he was going to marry her, and now he’s glad he didn’t. He doesn’t regret marrying Beth. Before Beth died, the Goerings could be spotted walking on the Sand Creek Trail near Bethel College. Now, at the trailhead is a memorial plaque honoring the couple. It says, “Sand Creek Trail dedicated to Jacob D. and Beth (Eldridge) Goering in honor of Jake’s vision to develop the trail and inspire community members to further enhance and enjoy it. National Trail Day June 6, 2015.” The plaque has a photo of Jake and Beth, each holding a walking stick. The idea for developing Sand Creek Trail came to Goering while taking his morning walk around the block before breakfast one day. A man he knew also was out walking that morning. When they met, Goering said there ought to be a better place to walk, as there weren’t any sidewalks. Goering learned someone said there’s a trail near “the Ditch,” which is Kidron-Martin Canal near Sand Creek by the college. Upon investigating, Goering found a line across the “bit of a trail” that was there that stated “Do not enter.” They removed that and put down a wood-chip trail, going as far as the hedgerow by MCC. Later the path was extended to near the interstate. This all started in 1997. About 300 people worked on the trail, Goering said. “I had wonderful, wonderful support,” he said about getting the trail established. “Lots and lots of wonderful people involved. It’s not all my idea. I can’t remember everybody’s contribution.” Goering still walks the trail, although he doesn’t venture onto it during hot summer days. “I do enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a good walk there.” In addition to walking, Goering has another dominant interest. “Reading is my main thing,” he said. “You can see the books here. I still like to walk, but my legs are getting to bother me a little.” Goering’s reading materials don’t appear to be a proverbial “walk in the park.” As of late July, he was reading several books, including “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” and “The Meaning of Human Existence.”
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Article and photos • Wendy Nugent
Ethan Patrick Harris’ work
16 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
work influenced by his youth
lthough Ethan Patrick Harris’ artwork is influenced by his time spent outside in the Kansas countryside as a youngster, his paintings don’t look anything like the Sunflower State’s idyllic rolling prairies. Many of his paintings are of the fantasy genre in nature, with intense, saturated colors and creatures he’s made up in this mind. “I’m very influenced by just organic shapes,” Harris said, sitting in his home-based studio. “I’d rather find my own vision out in the world.” And he has. His work doesn’t have a lot of straight lines, he said, as nature generally doesn’t have those. When he stayed in the country with a relative as a kid, he had nothing else to do, so he naturally went outside and drew images of animals, such as horses and turtles. Those animals, as well as human-like creatures, have developed into a style all his own. Harris uses a great deal of swirly, curved lines, creating fantastical creatures. For example, one painting, called “The Hunter and His Henchman” is done in golds, oranges, purples, greens, dark reds and creams with dark shadows of a creature sporting rabbit ears holding a big stick. “The biggest and the baddest fall to his spear, while his buddy observes,” is written under the painting at www.ethanpatrickharris.com. “Catching a scrap or two to feed his cold and conjoined heart…or something like that. Thanks for your curiosity.” The work measures 13 by 20 inches, and is oil and ink wash on board. Harris described his work as possibly being somewhere between fantasy/science fiction and surrealism. “It’s a genre I can fit into easily because so much of my imagery is surreal and nonrealistic,” Harris said. “I never set out to do it that way. I just enjoy the freedom of story that is allows. There just aren’t that many rules in fantasy/sci-fi. It’s not bounded by physical laws as much as landscape paintings or portrait painting. I can put the strangest thing together, and it fits.” When creating a new work, he said he usually doesn’t have a plan and starts with a line that turns into a shape, and that shape morphs into an object. “Sometimes it turns into a success, and sometimes it’s a complete failure,” Harris said. He added he can draw “normal” subjects, like deer and rabbits, although he said he’s not great at doing landscapes, which is what sells in Kansas. In order to sell work, Harris started painting images of trees. These trees are curvy with swirly roots exposed. “I get commissioned a lot for the trees,” he said.
........................................................................................................... Ethan Patrick Harris of rural Newton is surrounded by some of his fantasy/science-fiction works. “It’s a genre I can fit into easily because so much of my imagery is surreal and nonrealistic,” Harris says. “I never set out to do it that way. I just enjoy the freedom of story that is allows. There just aren’t that many rules in fantasy/sci-fi.” HarveyCountyNOW.com | 17
............................................................................................................................................................ Rural Newton resident Ethan Patrick Harris works in his home-based studio in July.
He also does other commissioned work, as well as making art commercially. For example, he’s created art for role-playing card games. In fact, the first one he did was put on a cover. He’s also done a cover for an online book and is one of three artists featured in The Carriage Factory Gallery’s current show “Down the Rabbit Hole” through Sept. 15. (The other artists are Beth Vannatta of rural Halstead and Barbara Haynes of Wichita.) Harris’ artwork is for sale at the gallery and online at www.ethanharris.com. Harris also sells work at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, a fantasy art convention. The rural Newton artist enjoys his work for a variety of reasons. “It’s (like) what do you like about your kids?” he said after being asked what he likes about art. “It’s such a part of me — you can’t separate it from yourself.” He also said art is a way of stepping outside of oneself — whether a person is creating or viewing it, and since he was young, he’s always been mesmerized by beautiful art. “It just feels real in a way that the daily hum-drum of life doesn’t,” he said. “For me, that’s what art is — a passion.” With this passion, he uses traditional and digital media. Harris’ medium for creating paintings usually is oil. Before starting his career, Harris had to come to this Earth. He was born in 1974 in Manhattan, Kansas, since his parents attended 18 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
school there. As a toddler, the family moved to Newton. “Newton’s all I remember,” Harris said. Newton artist Phil Epp was an art teacher at the middle school Harris attended. “He was very supportive of anyone who wanted to go into the arts, but it seemed like a wild idea back then,” Harris said. About a year ago, Epp sent Harris an artist proof before Epp’s show at The Carriage Factory Gallery in Newton. “He’s still being supportive,” Harris said. Harris also took art classes at Newton High School. “In high school, I avoided every other class than art class,” he said with a smile. This included ceramics and everything else he could take, as well as theater. Harris also recalled being influenced by NHS art teacher Patrice Olais, who took him aside once and said to him, “You’re going into the arts, right?” At this point, he hadn’t thought about it. “It was helpful,” Harris said. “That was definitely a moment of encouragement I’ll always remember.” After high school, he attended Bethel College in North Newton for a semester because some friends were attending. “So, I went to KU and got more serious, but not that serious,” Harris said. Then he transferred to Wichita State University, where he studied sculpture.
While in college, he built guitars. He also plays bass acoustic guitar on one he built himself. “It’s one of a kind,” Harris said. “Now that I have kids, if there’s a tornado, I think, ‘Get the kids; get the bass.’ “ Harris and wife Robyn Hartvickson, a physician at Axtell Clinic in Newton, have two children: Riley, 9, and Aida, 7. Harris said art is an easy thing to do while he stays at home with the kids. Harris said he wishes he could just draw, but he wants to earn money to contribute, although he has no problem with his wife working. “And she’s happy with it, too,” he said. Harris said he has a huge advantage with his wife working outside the home and that he hopes he can do that for her someday. Also, he believes he works harder from home than he would at a 9-5 job. During the years their kids were small, Harris concentrated on being a parent. Then he wondered what he could do from home. People say you should give it 10 years, Harris said, and if nothing happens after that time, it might be time to move on. “I know I couldn’t (move on),” Harris said, adding things are happening in his career. “So, I’m getting work now, and it feels good.” Harris said he comes from a family of many farmers. The values he was taught included if you’re getting paid for your career, then you seem to be on the right path.
He started doing two-dimensional work six years ago and was doing three-dimensional art on the computer. Now, he does half of his work in traditional art media and half digital. “It keeps it fresh,” he said. From time to time, Harris will try new media, “ruining sheets of paper” to see what the medium can do, he said. “Just dive in.” It seems being artistic runs in the family, as his daughter will sit and draw and draw. She wants to be an artist when she grows up, Harris said, and he’ll support that as long as she’s passionate about it. His son, who is more of an engineer, takes after Harris’ dad. Harris likes to work with his hands. “If I lost my hands, I don’t know what I’d do,” he said. “(I’d) probably annoy people with conversation.”
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Article and photos â€˘ Wendy Nugent
.............................................................. Newton native Verda Byrd holds a Bethel College yearbook with her photo in it. Sheâ€™s pictured in the top block of photos in the bottom row, center. 20 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
Things aren’t always
BLACK or WHITE Newton native finds out she’s caucasian in late adulthood
erda Byrd spent 70 years living as a black woman, and then she found out she was white. The Newton native, who now resides in Rio Blanco, Texas — which, ironically, means “white river” in Spanish — knew she was adopted to black parents, but she didn’t know her birth parents were white. The 72-year-old didn’t find that out until a few years ago. When she found out, she said it was “overwhelming.” “Totally overwhelming,” she said on the phone from Texas. “I began this research to find out just who Jeanette Beagle was.” She initiated that research after finding an adoption document with Jeanette Beagle’s name on it at her late parents’ home. The story of Jeanette Beagle begins with Byrd’s birth parents. Her birth mother, Daisy Beagle, didn’t have an easy life. She had 10 children and was married to Byrd’s birth father, Earl, who was an alcoholic, and a physical and mental abuser. “He was awful, but his name is on my birth certificate, so I guess he was a no-good daddy,” Byrd said. “She and Earl were legally married, but Earl would leave Daisy, and go and come and go and come.” At times, they were separated, but one day, Earl left and never came back. So Daisy ventured to downtown Kansas City (Byrd was born Sept. 27, 1942) to search for a job to support her children. Byrd said Daisy fell 30 feet off of a trolley and got hit by another trolley headed in another direction. “She was badly injured, and as a result, was in the hospital for a whole year,” Byrd said. At the time, Daisy had five children, and all were placed in Kansas City welfare facilities. The other four later returned home to Daisy, but living up to her current last name, Byrd was able to fly away. “Me being the youngest, her baby child and youngest child, Daisy chose to let me stay in the children’s home,” Byrd said. “She realized that she loved me enough for me to have a better life and a better home than she could provide at that time. I was the only one she gave up for adoption. The significant thing of this whole story is the love that Daisy Beagle had for her child proved that regardless of race, financial status that an adoptee can have a good and successful life by loving, adoptive parents.” Byrd went to a foster home, and the foster family adopted her in 1947 when she was 5. Her
name was changed to Verda N. Wagner, and her “At the time, I had been living in Germany adoptive parents were Ray and Edwinna Wagner, with my husband, who was in the Air Force, but a black couple in Newton. I came home to Phoenix where Mom and Dad “My new home was Newton, Kansas, where were,” Byrd said. Her father had cancer and her the Wagners lived,” Byrd said. “So living in mom had to be put in the hospital, and then her Newton in the ’40s and ’50s, I never knew I was parents suddenly died. a transracial adoptee. Edwinna did tell me that I When Byrd cleaned up their home after their was adopted, but she failed to tell me that I was deaths, she came across an adoption document born white, so she never told me I was born of regarding a Jeanette Beagle. white natural parents.” “At the time, I didn’t know who Jeanette Byrd’s skin color isn’t alabaster white, and it Beagle was,” Byrd said, adding she read the isn’t dark — it’s somewhere in between, so that document and thought she’d find out who she might account for some confusion. was but didn’t research it at the time. It appears the 1960 Newton High School She continued living her life. Fast forward 25 graduate had a nice life with the Wagners and years — Byrd ran across that same document then attended Bethel College in North Newton again and thought, “I really need to know now for three years before transferring to Metroat this time in my life who Jeanette Beagle was. I politan State in Denver. She has a bachelor of had the frame of mind to research to find out science degree in mental health and an who this person was.” associate’s degree in drug and alcohol By this time, she had retired from the counseling. government and had a clear enough mind to After she left Newton, her adult life became a focus on the project, she said. The document black world because Byrd didn’t know anything had the address of the Kansas City juvenile else. She thought she was supposed to go to court, so Byrd sent a copy of that document and black churches, black clubs and eat soul food — a request to find Jeanette Beagle’s mother. She doing “black things,” as she put it. found out they couldn’t tell her because it was a “I didn’t know I was white in the first place, closed adoption and that she’d have to prove the so usually people tend to stay in their own birth parents had died before getting the communities,” Byrd said. “But Newton didn’t information. have that many black people in the first place, so Her next move was to hire a woman versed it doesn’t matter.” in adoption research, who found the names of Byrd became an Air Force wife and worked Jeanette Beagle’s biological parents, who for the government. She and husband Trancle happened to be Daisy and Earl Beagle. lived overseas at times, and she was never treated there as having a race — she just was thought of as being American, and people from those countries wanted her to teach them English, especially the Japanese. “And that’s the way the military works overseas,” Byrd said. “You’re from the USA, not from the fields of cotton or nothing. They don’t look ............................................................................................................... at race.” When her father retired From left, Sybil Panko, Verda Byrd, Kathryn Gutierrez Rouillard and Debbie Romero met in June 2014. Byrd met these three, who from Santa Fe, he and are her living sisters. Byrd was adopted in the 1940s by a black Edwinna moved to couple from Newton. Years later, Byrd found out she was born Phoenix. They both died white. Courtesy photo there about 32 years ago. HarveyCountyNOW.com | 21
“With that being done, the research lady sent to the court in Kansas City a request from me, Verda Byrd, to release my birth parents’ names and all documents involved in this closed adoption case,” Byrd said. She received the package containing the adoption records in February 2014. “It took (from) about October 2013 to February 2014 for me to find out who I was born as,” she said. “I saw my birth name, my birth parents, information that had been sealed for 70some years. The mystery was solved. I never knew who I was born as. So, Edwinna took it to her grave she had adopted a white baby 70 years earlier. She never told me at all.” She was Jeanette Beagle. There still are three other living daughters of Daisy Beagle, and Byrd met them in June 2010. Since Newton is a small town and there weren’t that many “negro couples,” as Byrd put it, she kept the secret of her being able to adopt a white baby. Her father also knew and didn’t tell her. “He didn’t tell it because he didn’t want Edwinna getting mad at him,” Byrd said. After feeling overwhelmed, Byrd found acceptance. “It didn’t matter to me who I was or where I was or where I came from,” she said. “I accepted my history. After reviewing these documents for weeks, I couldn’t change the documents. Everything was in black and white. Every legal document was dated and signed, and it was what it was. I couldn’t change it, so my mind didn’t
focus on what happened 70 years ago; it focused on what it is now. ‘The reality of the whole thing was acceptance, and it was a done deal, and I could not erase 70 years of my life.” So, does she think of herself as black or white? “The honest answer is it does not matter,” Byrd said. “What difference does it make? I might be, ‘This is my white day, this is my black day,’ but it doesn’t matter because I’m still Verda. I can’t say I love being white because I was only white the first five years of my life.” And from those first five years of her life, she doesn’t remember her birth parents. Byrd said she goes by what’s on the documents, which say she’s white, but sometimes, people want her to be biracial or black. “Everybody I know have parents, and they have names,” she said. “Living or dead, you had one. One or two names are on there, and that’s the way it is. It doesn’t change my behavior. It doesn’t change my attitude. I like who I am. I’m Verda.” She spent many years not knowing she was white, and this is different than the recent turbulence over Rachel Dolezal lying about being black. “I did not know I was born white,” Byrd said. “Rachel, the young lady who wanted to be black, knew she was born white. She was choosing to be something she wasn’t. I don’t understand people lying about something they want to be that they’re not. It made me very angry with her.”
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Because of that national scandal and her life, Byrd has been contacted by a variety of national media and TV shows, such as “The Steve Harvey Show,” “The View” and “Good Morning America.” She hadn’t appeared on any shows as of mid-July, but she was featured in People magazine and USA Today. She also did a live radio show in California, and a photo of her was shown on “The View,” which displayed the photo on air and then said they’d get back to Byrd’s story, but they never did. She also was contacted by a producer for Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of a non-denominational church with 30,000 members. Byrd is chronicling her experiences in a manuscript, “70 Years of Blackness,” which she was hoping would be done late August, and then hopes to turn into a book and possibly a movie. She’s using her experiences to help other transracial adoptees by formulating the Jeanette Beagle Foundation, which will help those youth ages 6-18. She wants to provide money to them for extra costs, like going to basketball games, buying uniforms, purchasing soda or a program, and going to cultural venues. To find out where to donate, email Byrd at email@example.com. “So, I don’t focus on what could’ve been,” Byrd said. “I focus on what I can do to help transracial adoptees that are born from alcoholic and drug-addict parents. That’s my main focus now. With the foundation, maybe I can help some other kids.”
Article • Clint Harden
t’s been known for some time Brian Moorman is one of the best athletes in the history of Kansas. Now it’s time to make it official. On Oct. 4, Moorman will be inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita. “It’s so humbling,” he said. “To look at some of the names in there, I’m in good company.” During a career that spanned 13 years, he spent all but 12 games with the Buffalo Bills. He was on the Dallas Cowboys roster in 2012 for that time, before heading back to Buffalo in 2013 and hasn’t played since. Moorman has appeared in 202 games for 979 kicks.The punter took the field almost five times per game and amassed nearly 43,000 yards worth of punts. He also completed three passes, two of which were touchdowns. He said he’s still in good playing shape and wouldn’t mind getting on an NFL roster. But for now, he’s focusing his time and effort
to be inducted into Kansas Sports Hall of Fame on the P.U.N.T. Foundation, an organization he started to help families of cancer-stricken children continue to enjoy life. “It keeps us busy,” Moorman said. “I want to show these families that even though I may not be playing anymore, we still want to help and we still care.” Moorman and his wife Amber saw a need in western New York for families that were struggling with cancer and wanted to do something about it. P.U.N.T. stands for Preserving, Understanding, Need, Triumph. The organization receives monetary donations from all across the country, and has been run since 2004. “We focus mostly on western New York,” Moorman said. “But cancer knows no bounds. We’re always looking for new ways to raise funds. We spend every dollar we get, so it’s a constant need.” A two-time Pro Bowler, the Sedgwick native went to Pittsburg State, where he was an extremely successful athlete. He finished
school in 1999 as the most decorated athlete in school history. Moorman was the first fourtime All-American football player at Pittsburg State, was a 10-time All-American on the track and won three consecutive 400-meter hurdles titles. He’s quick to shift credit, though. “I owe my family, coaches, parents, friends, teammates that all made me better,” Moorman said. “This is not just my honor. This is for them, too.” At Sedgwick, he was a two-time state hurdle champion and received All-State honors in baseball and track. He also is a member of the Pittsburg State Hall of Fame and USTFCCCA Division 2 Hall of Fame. Moorman still visits the Wichita and Sedgwick areas because many of his friends are still in the area. Moorman is one of 11 inductees in this year’s class of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Brian Moorman kicks the ball during a professional football game. He played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills, and will be inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. INSET: Brian Moorman on the sidelines. Courtesy photos HarveyCountyNOW.com | 23
otta keep movin’
Article and photos Kelley DeGraffenreid
Halstead man fixes mowers in his shop
ilbur Nachtigal saunters down the driveway next to his Halstead home. Both sides of the driveway are lined with a colorful array of old lawn mowers. There are push mowers and riding mowers, and at one place along the fence, big beautiful white Moon Flowers bloom over the top of an old yellow riding mower. The drive curves around the back of his home. “This is my nest,” he says with a smile as he points to the large garage behind the house. The garage contains dozens of small machines, mowers, trimmers, edgers and even a motor scooter. “I bought that in a moment of weakness,” he says, motioning to the scooter. At any particular time, Nachtigal might have a dozen or so projects he is working on for friends, family and neighbors. After retiring from Idaho Timber a little more than two decades ago, Nachtigal built the garage thinking he would work on cars, but after a few years, he had several people asking him if he would work on their lawn mowers, and he eventually obliged. “I guess that was a mistake,” he says lightheartedly, looking around at the massive number of machines strewn inside and outside of the garage. Nachtigal retired at age 65, and at 87, he shows no sign of slowing down, working six to eight hours a day out in his shop. He was born and raised in Halstead, attending Halstead schools and joining the United States Marine Corps at age 17. He served his country for several years and upon leaving the service, took advantage of the G.I. Bill to go school in Lyons, where he trained to become a mechanic. He worked at several local companies. Wilbur met Betty Jo Willis in 1956 while she was in Halstead as a student nurse. “I picked her for a wife early, but she had no intention of marrying,” he says with a grin. Betty Jo went back to Pittsburg to school after her time was up in Halstead, but Wilbur, who was not giving up on her, kept in touch. In 1959, the two were married. A few years later, they would move back to Halstead together where they made their home and welcomed three children. When asked if he has any plans to truly retire and take it easy, Wilbur quickly says, “No, I need to keep moving.” His back gives him problems from time to time, and he is afraid if he let the recliner get him, he would never get up. “Got .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Wilbur Nachtigal works on a piece of machinery in his Halstead Shop. (Inset) Nachtigal, right, and Chip Westfall unload a mower. 24 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
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to keep moving, “ he says with gusto. Wilbur has never advertised his business. “There is no need — I have too much to do as it is,” he said. Just as he says this, a pickup truck backs into the driveway with an old blue Dixon mower in the bed. Harvey County Commissioner Chip Westfall hops out of the truck, and he and Wilbur work together to unload the mower. During the unloading process, one of the ramps slips off the tailgate, and Wilbur springs into action. He gets out a large car jack and quickly jacks up the mower so the two of them can get it back on the tracks. Westfall says he has brought many machines to Wilbur for repair during the years. “Weed eaters, chainsaws, whatever goes bad in the garage makes it over here,” he says with a quiet laugh. After Westfall’s departure, Wilbur gets back to work in the workshop. When asked what
26 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
his most interesting projects have been, he says he has recently done some work on Chinese-made machines. “They are quite different — but I kind of enjoy the challenge. I like the satisfaction of doing something unusual.” He speaks highly of Honda motors. “Honda motors are awfully good. The Japanese manufacturers are just a little bit superior. So with all this work to do, does he ever find time for something fun or relaxing? He smiles and says, “I really enjoy fishing.” A sign near his front door reads, “A fisherman lives here with the best catch of his life.” So, if you ever need a mower fixed, haul it over to the west side of Halstead. If you can’t find Wilbur there working in his shop, chances are he is off watching a line in a lake for a bit, but he’ll be back soon because too much relaxing is not in his nature.
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Article and photos â€˘ Wendy Nugent
...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Annette LeZotte has been director of Kauffman Museum, which is part of Bethel College in North Newton, for about a year. Sheâ€™s going to give a TED Talk in September on a recent exhibit there about race. 28 | HarveyCountyNOW.com Fall 2015
Kauffman Museum director combines love of ART, HISTORY
hen Annette LeZotte was growing up in the Chicago area, the hallowed halls of museums her grandparents and parents took her to made a great impact. “I thought they were almost spiritual places,” said LeZotte, who has been director of Kauffman Museum at Bethel College for about a year. LeZotte also went on many field trips to museums in that area. In 1977, when LeZotte was 7 years old, her parents and grandparents joined her in visiting the “Treasures of Tutankhamun” exhibit at the Field Museum in the Windy City. This exhibit attracted 1.3 million visitors in the four months it was there. “I remember it being packed as a 7-yearold,” she said. The exhibit had a numerous artifacts, many of which were drenched in gold. The collection has perhaps the most famous Egyptian antiquity ever found, which is the solid gold mask used to cover King Tut’s head and shoulders, and it appears many of the artifacts have creative, artistic qualities to them. Also as she grew up, LeZotte’s grandmother had a love of art, and the two also went on trips to museums. These factors influenced LeZotte’s career choices. When going to college, she looked at the course catalogue and chose her major by deciding which discipline she could taking endure 32 credit hours, so she majored in art history. To this day, she can recall which two paintings were on the screen at the front of the classroom when she walked into her first art history class at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They were the “Merode Altarpiece,” circa 1427-32, and “The Deposition” from 1507. After receiving her bachelor of arts degree in art history, LeZotte earned a master of arts in the same area from Florida State University and a doctorate in art history from the University of Texas at Austin. Her areas of study included Renaissance and Baroque art. She did a number of internships as an undergraduate and graduate student, working in the education departments of university museums. While earning her doctorate, she did the initial research and training of docents regarding the SuidaManning Collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings given to the college’s Blanton Museum. “I always knew working for a museum would be a logical choice for an art historian,
so I always tried to stay knowledgeable about museums and museum practices,” LeZotte said. Before she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, LeZotte was offered a teaching position at Wichita State University, which is what brought her to the area. Her titles there included visiting assistant professor of art history, 2000-02; assistant professor of art history, 2002-09; and associate professor of art history, 2009-12. After working at Wichita State, she was offered the position of interim curator of education/interim curator at the Wichita Art Museum. “And then I ended up here,” LeZotte said of Kauffman Museum. “So this was kind of a way of merging those two interests — working for a college museum presents some unique challenges…and so having that unique knowledge of how colleges work is beneficial.” LeZotte enjoys her job at Kauffman, which is a part of Bethel College. “I like the creativity of it,” she said. “I’m an ideas person, and I think museums always spark new ideas.” When she came on board at Kauffman, the exhibit that was up was “Climate and Energy Central: Doing Science in Kansas,” which was funded partly by the National Science Foundation through the Experimental Program to Stimulate
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Competitive Research. “The goal was to get local universities to study the impact of global climate change on local communities,” LeZotte said, sitting in the museum’s library. The exhibit featured “Kansas scientists who are working together to address the grand challenges of renewable energy and potential climate change,” according to kauffman.bethelks.edu. NSF subsidized the exhibit to travel in Kansas. Then from Feb. 27 to May 24 of this year, another exhibit, “Sorting Out Race: Examining Racial Identity and Stereotypes in Thrift Store Donations,” was featured. This exhibit had been in the planning stages for about five years before LeZotte arrived. “‘Sorting Out Race’ arose out of a desire to divert artifacts with racial content from thrift stores to an exhibit that would generate a healthy community conversation about racial stereotypes past and present in order to heighten awareness of our continuing struggles with race,” according to the museum’s website. “This is a project I inherited,” LeZotte said. “Very unique idea.” This idea was so unique, in fact, that she’s been asked to do a TED talk on the subject, which will be Sept. 15 at Kansas City Community College. The theme of the TED talk event is, “Breaking Through: Confronting the Barriers That Divide Us and Challenging Ourselves to Move Beyond Them.” “The auditorium seats 300, so it will be done in front of a live audience,” LeZotte said. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to spreading thoughts, usually through powerful, short talks. It initiated in 1984 when technology, entertainment and design came together and now covers many other topics. To view TED talks, visit www.ted.com. In the past four months, LeZotte has given 14 presentations on the “Sorting Out Race” exhibit, and the TED talk will be the 15th. She sees the 12-15-minute time limit as being a challenge because she hasn’t given a presentation on the topic in less than 30 minutes. “How do you talk about race in America in 15 minutes or less if you want to do it any justice in explaining the concept?” she said. The exhibit was the brainchild of Leia Lawrence, and exhibit team members included LeZotte, Nicole Eitzen, Jake Harris, David Krieder, Paloma Olais, Chuck Regier and Rachel Pannabecker. Although she’s frequently been asked to speak about the exhibit, she said, “Of course, those aren’t easy conversations to have.” “So obviously this exhibit is quite timely considering what’s going on in America right now,” LeZotte said. When the exhibit was up, many had positive reactions. “I would say that overall our core constituency here at Kauffman Museum reacted very positively,” LeZotte said, adding the word that kept being repeated by patrons when they wrote in the comment book was “sensitizing.”
............................................... Annette LeZotte (left), director of Kauffman Museum in North Newton, talks to docent Rosiland Andreas in the prairie reconstruction area outside of the museum.
The most controversial artifact in the exhibit was the state flag of Kansas, as there were a lot of people who didn’t like the suggestion the Kansas flag might be racially charged. The Ad Astra Per Aspera flag features American Indians and buffalo in the background that appear to be heading out of the scene with larger settler images in the foreground. LeZotte said from her studies of art, she’s learned the important items in paintings are larger and in the foreground. The largest subject in the Kansas flag is a white man plowing with two horses leading the way. The museum posed rhetorical questions throughout the exhibit. “It was intended to get people to think differently about these objects,” LeZotte said. The exhibit has been designed to travel and will be available for the road in the fall. In one part of the exhibit, there’s a colorful dress in what represents a thrift-store window. The most-asked question regarding the exhibit was, “What is racist about the dress in the window?” LeZotte said, and “What is racist about the Pyrex mixing bowls in the window?” “We filled the ‘thrift-store window’ at the front of the exhibit with a variety of items — some with racial content and others without — to make the point that such objects are readily integrated into our homes and resale shops, and we need to challenge ourselves to think about the images displayed on them,” LeZotte said. “And I did select the dress just because I thought it was visually stunning, and we were looking for an eye-catching dress to put in that window display.” In addition to the TED talk, LeZotte has other plans for the museum. These include switching from having multiple exhibits up every year to having one exhibit up during the college’s academic year. She envisions more programming related to the exhibit and more collaborative programming with the college and particularly with classes at Bethel. The current exhibit, “Root for the Home Team: Building Community Through Sports,” opened Sept. 1 and will run through Jan. 23, 2016. Bethel and Kauffman are official partner sites for the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America.” There are a total of 18 other partner sites, including Lawrence, Oakley and Wichita. The actual Smithsonian exhibit travels to Ellinwood, Goodland, Greenburg, Atchison, Perry and Humbolt in 2015. Kauffman’s exhibit will localize ideas in the Smithsonian exhibit, and there will be events to which museum members are welcome, including “From Football to Futbol” presented by Marlo Angell at 11 a.m. Sept. 18 in the BC Luyken Fine Arts Center, and “Every Fourth of July in Newton: Memories of the Oldest Mexican American FastPitch Softball Tournament in the United States” panel discussion at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 in the same location. “Bethel College students will explore how sports impact the identity and inclusiveness of communities through a series of readings, lectures and assignments throughout the 2015-16 academic year,” a news release stated.
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