Archive for Friday, May 14, 2010

Business icons named to new hall of fame

From left, Joe Flannery, Marilyn Dobski and Val Stella are among the inaugural inductees for the new Lawrence Business Hall of Fame.

From left, Joe Flannery, Marilyn Dobski and Val Stella are among the inaugural inductees for the new Lawrence Business Hall of Fame.

May 14, 2010


Four named to new Lawrence Business Hall of Fame

The hall will be in the Lawrence Public Library. Enlarge video

Joining the Hall of Fame

Marilyn Dobski on how it feels to have "Hall of Famer" attached to the end of her name.

Advice to others

Joe Flannery on what advice he would give to others looking to follow in his footsteps.


Val Stella discusses his mentors.

Leaders choosing the first inductees for the new Lawrence Business Hall of Fame sat down to cull three names from a pile of 88 nominees.

Two hours later, they simply couldn’t get the job done.

“The talent pool was so deep that our committee said, ‘Why do we need to have just three?’ ” said Dale Willey, committee chair.

And with that, leaders in Junior Achievement of Lawrence settled on four laureates to formally be inducted later this year into the hall, which will be on the lower level of the Lawrence Public Library.

The inductees, announced during a ceremony Thursday morning at Lawrence Country Club:

• Marilyn Dobski, co-owner of Dobski & Associates, the Lawrence-based owner/operator of more than a dozen McDonald’s restaurants in Lawrence and northeast Kansas.

• Joe Flannery, president of Weaver’s Inc., a department store at 901 Mass.

• Val Stella, a distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at Kansas University.

• The late Dolph C. Simons Sr., who was publisher of the Lawrence Journal-World from 1944 to 1962 and the newspaper’s editor from 1950 to 1979.

Dolph C. Simons Sr.

Dolph C. Simons Sr.

“We’ve set the bar high,” said Willey, president of Dale Willey Automotive in Lawrence, and a board member for Junior Achievement in Lawrence. “And that’s the way it should be.”

Dobski, Flannery and Stella attended Thursday’s event, thanking Junior Achievement for their work to educate youngsters about the world of business and free enterprise. They also recalled mentors who helped guide their own business careers.

For Dobski, a former teacher, it was a long line of supporters that included teaching colleagues, former principals and even McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc who helped her and her husband, Tom, build a business in Lawrence and beyond.

“We benchmarked many other owner/operators across the country to be able to learn from them, and the things that they were good at, and to learn how to improve our restaurants and our organization,” Dobski said.

Flannery, who leads an iconic department store that’s been open a month longer than the venerable — and much larger — Macy’s, recalled the helpful support of former owner Art Weaver, current supporter Ross Beach, and his own father, Larry, with whom he worked alongside for 15 years.

“He really taught me what’s important, especially relationships with customers and with your staff,” Flannery said.

And for Stella, whose scientific research and expertise would lead to ventures that included meeting a $2 million payroll, the path to bridging success in both academia and business was shown to him by Tak Higuchi, a professor who had become known as “the father of physical pharmacy” while at KU.

“He sort of set the tone that, at a university setting, you can be both a good teacher — you can do good service to the university — but you can also do great research, and that research can often result in products,” Stella said.

The four laureates will be honored during a celebration Oct. 4 at the Kansas Union. For details about the event and more about the hall project, visit


Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

This is kind of funny.

Truly what is going on here?

headdoctor 7 years, 10 months ago

So did the wonder boy Doug Compton. I would have thought he would have had enough high friends in places to at least be part of the finalists.

BigPrune 7 years, 10 months ago

It's a shame there are so many hate filled closed minded liberals in this town

1southernjayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree Prune. I don't live in Lawrence any longer but my family does and I love to keep up with the local news and old friends. My vision of Lawrence get distorted when I read the comments posted here and think that these comments are representative of the citizens of Lawrence. Yet I know underneath all the moochers and looters and naysayers and smearers there is a foundation of some excellent people, like these 3 being honored today, and generations of others who keep the system running, maintain a system of values, and provide and protect an atmosphere that allows the others to even survive. And so many of the posters are so busy complaining and being sarcastic and are so far off the mark that they have no idea and no appreciation that this is the case. Just wanted to get that off my chest

BigAl 7 years, 10 months ago

1southernjayhawk. I am a middle of the road Democrat. I assure you that the snide comments on here come from all political corners. All.

As far as the crack about Compton, what is it that he has done wrong except provide jobs for his employees and suppliers all over Douglas County?

By the way, there are just as many hate filled, closed minded conservatives as there are liberals. Actually, right now in this country, it appears to be far more conservatives preaching hate, fear and division.

I enjoy watching how people on these forums can turn any topic political and blame the "other" side.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.