A former speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives and a longtime civic activist in Lawrence has died.
Attorney Charles D. Stough, one of Lawrence's best-known leaders for nearly 55 years, died late Friday afternoon at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He had celebrated his 81st birthday with his wife Edith and friends on Tuesday.
Stough suffered a heart attack at his home about 3:15 Friday afternoon and was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 5 p.m. He had not had any serious recent health problems, friends said.
Services were pending Friday evening. Warren-McElwain Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
As a longtime local, state and area Republican leader, Stough made a substantial impact on events for the state of Kansas as a legislator and political personality. He also served Kansas University, his alma mater, and the Lawrence community in a variety of ways.
"You can't say enough good things about him and what he has meant to KU and this community," said George Catt, a longtime friend who recently had been linked in a legal partnership with Stough. "He had received almost every major honor our community and KU can give, but he still remained the same old wonderful Charlie Stough."
Stough was born in Mound Valley but received most of his early schooling in the South American country of Peru, where his father was in charge of drilling operations for Standard Oil. Upon returning to Kansas, the son earned his high school diploma at Parsons High School. He attended Kemper Military Academy in Boonville, Mo., for two years and entered KU in 1934.
He earned a bachelor's degree in political science and history in 1936 and his KU law degree in 1938, after which he practiced law for two years in Chicago.
Stough returned to Lawrence in 1939 to practice law and immediately began a successful bid for a city council spot. However, his second four-year term was cut short in 1942 when, at the age of 28, he enlisted for World War II Navy service as an officer. He was discharged in 1945 and was elected to the Kansas Legislature as a Douglas County representative in 1947. The widely known Lawrence attorney was House majority leader from 1951 to 1953 and served as speaker of the House from 1953 to 1955.
He was Lawrence city attorney from 1947 to 1968 and city attorney for Eudora from 1949 to 1985.
Stough held a number of key legal society and political posts at the local, state and national levels. He was a trustee for the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers in the agency's formative stage. He also remained active in KU Alumni Association committee work and was a former president of the World War I Memorial Corp., which oversees operation of the Kansas Union.
In 1981, he received KU's Fred Ellsworth Medallion, the highest award bestowed by the alumni association. In 1993, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce honored him with its Citizen of the Years Award, which goes to a longtime, outstanding contributor to the community and KU. He also was honored by the Kiwanis Club with its Substantial Citizen Award.
Stough was a board member and motivating force behind Achievement Place for Boys. He was a former president of the Douglas County Historical Society, a former board member of the Watkins Community Museum of History and served as chairman of the Committee for Saving the Tallgrass Prairies. In 1991, he ended a 12-year term as a trustee of the National Parks and Conservation Assn.
His legal work included input for the Douglas County Kaw Drainage Board that was instrumental in bringing about improvement of local flood protection. He helped establish such projects as the Clinton Reservoir, working at the local and national levels for approval, funding and completion.
"I would say that one of the most satisfying projects I have been involved with has been the downtown Lawrence development that got under way in the 1950s and culminated in such an attractive and popular area," Stough said upon being honored by the chamber of commerce in 1993. "Then there is the factor of local flood protection and how far we have come since that horrendous flood of 1951. There still is work to be done, but we have come light years from where we were 40 years ago.
"There is my longtime love affair with KU and the chance to play even a small role in the fabulous growth and development of this marvelous university of ours. What a thrill and honor to be a part of that."
In 1936, Stough married Mary Juliet "Julie" Shipman of Chicago and they had two daughters, Brady Rubin of Los Angeles and Sally Bartlett of Valley Falls. There are four grandchildren.
Julie Stough died in 1986. In November of 1989, Stough married Edith Gray. She survives at the home. A sister, Margaret Frink of Cocoa Beach, Fla., also survives.
Catt, Lawrence municipal judge with whom Stough had a close working relationship since 1968, talked about his longtime friend Friday.
"Sad as the occasion is, this is the way Charlie wanted to bow out. He long ago made it clear he wanted no period of suffering or lingering, and he was a member of the Hemlock Society, which involves people opposed to needless suffering in cases of terminal illness. Shocking and sudden as it was, his death was quick and apparently relatively painless, and I think most people would prefer it just that way."