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Good Deeds: Museum volunteer enjoys telling stories of Wichita history

Tom Whitney is a volunteer at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum where he gives tours. He’s a native Wichitan and stands in front of an exhibit about the Forum where his high school graduation ceremonies were held.
Tom Whitney is a volunteer at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum where he gives tours. He’s a native Wichitan and stands in front of an exhibit about the Forum where his high school graduation ceremonies were held. The Wichita Eagle

Tom Whitney believes in passing along Wichita’s history from generation to generation.

His great-grandfather, George S. Wilson, was one of the first attorneys in Wichita, he said, and co-founded the Riverside trolley system. Whitney, 71, tells the stories of how Wichita was founded, how early Wichitans lived and what the prairie looked like 150 years ago as part of his work as a volunteer for the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.

He tells the stories to children when they come on field trips to the museum. He almost always includes a tale or two of when he was a student at Riverside Elementary more than six decades ago.

In addition to his work at the museum, Whitney volunteers for Meals on Wheels, organizing drivers for his church and delivering meals. He does history tours for the River City Trolley and writes articles every other month for the Riverside Booster.

And, when he has spare time, he helps repair vehicles for people in need at his church, Trinity Presbyterian Church. He learned to be a mechanic working for his dad who owned filling stations in Wichita for more than 40 years. There are historic pictures of his father’s filling stations in the Riverside Cafe.

“My mother, who lived to be 99, told me there are two things you can do to extend your life — do things to keep your mind thinking and alive and keep moving your body,” Whitney said.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

Know a volunteer?

Good Deeds is a feature recognizing volunteers for their service to the community. Do you know someone doing Good Deeds? E-mail us at volunteers@wichitaeagle.com.

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