2011: Hall of Fame to induct eight Kansans

06/17/2011 12:00 AM

08/06/2014 2:13 AM

In one photo at Topeka's Great Overland Station railroading museum, Bob Dole is shaking hands with Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In others, Vice President Charles Curtis is presenting Amelia Earhart with the Distinguished Flying Cross award, and Dole is distributing Pizza Hut pizza.

Besides being Kansans, Dole, Eisenhower, Curtis, Earhart and Pizza Hut founders Dan and Frank Carney all have one more thing in common — they're some of the first inductees into the Kansas Hall of Fame.

"All these people have these interconnections that you don't really think about," said Beth Fager, campaign director at the museum. "That's been fun."

Tonight at a sold-out gala to benefit the museum, eight people will join the new Kansas Hall of Fame. The private not-for-profit museum is sponsoring the Hall of Fame.

The inductees also include Gen. Richard Myers and Marshal Matt Dillon of "Gunsmoke" as portrayed by James Arness.

"There's not a single honoree this year that hasn't been a player on the world stage, and that's pretty significant when you think about it," Fager said.

People wanting to see the Kansas Hall of Fame exhibit may visit the museum through the end of July. Many of the displays on the inductees contain loaned artifacts, which the museum will take down after the exhibit, Fager said.

However, the museum plans to create a permanent exhibit for the Hall of Fame after that, possibly with one panel for each inductee, she said. At some point, the Hall of Fame might have to expand, but Fager said the Great Overland Station would house it for the foreseeable future.

The Hall of Fame project started in January when the committee for the museum's gala wanted to do something special for Kansas' 150th birthday.

"When the Hall of Fame idea floated out, the whole team just went, 'Yes, let's do that,' " Fager said.

Though Kansas has other Halls of Fame, including ones for sports, teachers and music, this exhibit features the history of the state, Fager said.

The committee tried to find a balance between people from different regions of Kansas and people who affected various fields, such as business or politics.

"We have had people who have been important, who have contributed all across the board," Fager said.

Myers and the Carney brothers will accept their awards in person tonight, while representatives will stand in for the other inductees. Gov. Sam Brownback also is planning to attend.

Once this year's event is completed, the committee plans to create more instructions for the selection process and develop an official selection committee and nomination form. Fager said leaving some flexibility in the process will allow the Hall of Fame to recognize Kansans who have contributed in many different ways.

Fager said she hopes the inductees influence young people in the state by providing them with qualities they can emulate, like examples of devotion and hard work.

"There's so much leadership displayed there," she said.

The exhibit also will draw out-of-state people to Kansas, Fager said.

In fact, it already has.

When one California woman heard about the Hall of Fame gala, she called the museum the first day tickets went on sale, Fager said. As an avid fan of the TV show "Gunsmoke," which was set in Dodge City, the woman wanted to witness the induction of the character Marshal Matt Dillon.

"She said, 'I'm coming, I'm buying a ticket,' " Fager said.

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