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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Well-known resident left house full of furry collections

June 2, 2006

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Willie Stagg had a passion for collecting.

"My mother - if she had one of something, she had 50," said Edith Gilbert, the eldest of Stagg's two daughters.

In the case of stuffed bears, make that at least 2,000. She also liked Beanie Babies, amassing more than 1,000.

Gilbert has spent the past three and a half months sorting through her mother's many belongings - boxes stacked to the ceiling - and preparing for an estate auction.

Stagg, 77, died Jan. 24. She and her husband, Harold, were well-known members of Lawrence's black community.

Harold Stagg died in 1992. He was 67.

"My mother was a collector," Gilbert said. "If somebody came to our house and said they needed a size 10 pair of jeans, she'd have 10 pair and she'd give them to you. She was that way."

The Stagg estate includes:

¢ More than 2,000 Beanie Baby-like stuffed animals.

¢ Close to 3,000 record albums.

¢ More than 100 cookbooks.

¢ At least 50 porcelain Christmas bells.

Auctioneer Doug Riat, Lawrence, moves through the crowded garage of Gilbert's the late Willie Stagg Thursday evening organizing over 5000 miniature stuffed animals collected by Stagg as he prepares for a two-day auction this weekend in which the family will sell many of Stagg's possessions including her many collectibles. In addition to the stuffed animals, some of the other notable collectors items are Stagg's 200 plus Barbie dolls and over 2000 albums.

Auctioneer Doug Riat, Lawrence, moves through the crowded garage of Gilbert's the late Willie Stagg Thursday evening organizing over 5000 miniature stuffed animals collected by Stagg as he prepares for a two-day auction this weekend in which the family will sell many of Stagg's possessions including her many collectibles. In addition to the stuffed animals, some of the other notable collectors items are Stagg's 200 plus Barbie dolls and over 2000 albums.

¢ Enough glassware and dish sets to service a few dozen newlyweds.

¢ About 200 Barbie dolls, some still in the boxes.

¢ At least 2,000 teddy bears.

"Up in the attic there were 25 of the biggest trash bags you can buy, stuffed full of bears," auctioneer Doug Riat said.

"At first, we thought this would be a one-day sale," Riat said. "But there's no way. It'll take two days at least."

The auction begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Stagg residence, 1511 E. 19th St.

Riat said he'd spent two months gearing up for the sale.

"This isn't the biggest auction I've ever done, because so much depends on the size of the house," he said. "But for a house this big, this is the most stuff I've ever seen."

An Elvis Christmas Album and selected speeches of John F. Kennedy rest among the piles of albums up for auction.

An Elvis Christmas Album and selected speeches of John F. Kennedy rest among the piles of albums up for auction.

Gilbert said her mother loved garage sales, thrift shops and bingo.

"For a long time, blacks couldn't play bingo in Lawrence. The places - Eagles Club, Knights of Columbus, American Legion - were segregated," Gilbert said. "But when they opened up, my mother was the first one in."

Thrift shop workers, she said, used to hold back items they knew Stagg would want.

"She collected everything," Gilbert said. "But she kept a clean home and everything was very well-organized."

Stagg worked for the chemistry department at Kansas University for many years. She also worked at Weaver's Department Store and sold real estate.

For most of the 1970s and into the 1980s, she and her husband ate breakfast and lunch at the former Drake Bakery, 907 Mass., Woolworth's department store, 911 Mass., or Raney Plaza Drug Store, 1800 Mass.

Auctioneer Doug Riat, center, and Aubrey Gilbert, move through the crowded garage of Gilbert's deceased grandmother Willie Stagg Thursday afternoon, as they prepare for a two-day auction this weekend in which the family will sell many of Stagg's possessions including her many collectibles. Among other things, according to Riat, Stagg carried a collection of over 200 Barbie Dolls, 2000 albums and 5000 miniature stuffed animals.

Auctioneer Doug Riat, center, and Aubrey Gilbert, move through the crowded garage of Gilbert's deceased grandmother Willie Stagg Thursday afternoon, as they prepare for a two-day auction this weekend in which the family will sell many of Stagg's possessions including her many collectibles. Among other things, according to Riat, Stagg carried a collection of over 200 Barbie Dolls, 2000 albums and 5000 miniature stuffed animals.

"My parents were fixtures in the front window at Drake's," Gilbert said.

Former drug store owner Dick Raney remembers the Staggs fondly.

"The years I knew them best were years of terrible strife in Lawrence," Raney said. "They were the most congenial folks. By that I mean they were peacemakers; they were comfortable and well-respected on both sides of the racial divide."

Harold Stagg worked at KU for many years before being injured in an automobile accident. He later ran the Gaslight Tavern, 1241 Oread Ave., served as maitre d' at the Carriage Lamp restaurant, 711 W. 23rd St., and staffed the west Lawrence toll booth for the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

"Harold had a broad range of acquaintances and not an enemy in the world," Raney said.

More about Beanie Babies

Comments

lunacydetector 8 years, 7 months ago

sounds like the 'antique road show' needs to do a show at that lady's house.

pelliott 8 years, 7 months ago

I have always thought of the Staggs as part of what makes Lawrence a real community. I met Harold when I first came to Lawrence in 67. I am glad Willie had fun collecting. They deserved to have fun, they gave a real gift with their insights and contributions to this town.

Christine Pennewell Davis 8 years, 7 months ago

sounds like they lived a wonderful life, we should all be so lucky.

Centrist 8 years, 7 months ago

Bugger ... I'm gonna miss the sale. Now I'm wondering what they might have collected on Vinyl ... there might be some "gems" in there ...

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

"my kid's would kill me if I died..."

Funny.

KSChick1 8 years, 7 months ago

I've heard about those people who dress up in the big animal costumes (like mascot costumes kinda) and then have sex without taking the costumes off. Now that would be a wierd collection!

bunnyhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Why does the JW feel the need to qualify the Staggs' contributions to this community throughout their lives by writing that they were "well known members of Lawrence's black community." ?

For my money, the Staggs were well known and highly valued members of the Lawrence community........100% of the Lawrence community, in fact.

I'm thinking it's time for LJW writers and editors to have a little cultural competence training.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow - someone should eBay all that for them.

pelliott 8 years, 7 months ago

To multidisciplinary. As someone who has paid for the construction dumpster that someone else used for the bulk unload. Their little dump cost me half a day of my crew and the dump fee. If you are ill or have a disability or life has overwhelmed you and you don't 't have the energy or time to donate or free sale it, It might be easier to just put the stuff out on your trash route. If you live in the city, bulk pickup is included in your service. I think it is sad and silly to take the trouble to use someone else's buck and also haul it there. If you live in town just put the stuff in your own trash. If the amount is too overwhelming, a note on Larryville.com swapmeet as free items might get you some vynal lover to come and carry the stuff away. You can call the volunteer center in town and sometimes they can get you connected with a little help. I call it the lost recyclers aid. Many of us find mass and time overwhelming, use the phone, use the internet, let someone get some fun out those things. If you do put it out for trash, put the good stuff to the side in a box, and write free on it. Good luck to you.

yellowhouse 8 years, 7 months ago

THE BARGAIN---by carrie neighbors

Oh Lord my heart just skipped a beat

Its another yard sale sign!

I love to shop for all the treasures

A bargain soon will be mine!

Oh how I love to accumulate these

Possessions and treasures galore.

Who could pass up such a great bargain

That only made me want it more!

As I collect these worthless treasures

That add to all my clutter and mess

Am I overlooking more meaningful things?

Have I missed Gods true righteousness?

All the treasures I gather on earth

Will someday rust and decay

But the treasures I store up in heaven

Will never rot or be taken away.

God's values and treasures are a bargain

Because they are given for free

Beautiful gifts that add meaning to life

There is no greater a bargain for me!

(Reference Matthew 6:20)

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