Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lawrence business leaders receive Hall of Fame honor

October 6, 2011


Phoebe and Phil Godwin, left, visit with Jim Owens during a reception May 5, 2011 at the Kansas Union Ballroom. The 2011 Lawrence Business Hall of Fame inducted Owens, along with Bob Billings, Shirley Martin-Smith and Gene Meyer.

Phoebe and Phil Godwin, left, visit with Jim Owens during a reception May 5, 2011 at the Kansas Union Ballroom. The 2011 Lawrence Business Hall of Fame inducted Owens, along with Bob Billings, Shirley Martin-Smith and Gene Meyer.

Four prominent community leaders were inducted into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame on Thursday night, each for making significant contributions to the city and its people.

In the 1940s, Jim Owens took a chance and bought the flower shop that would become Owens Flower Shop. In the 1960s, Bob Billings got the itch to build a golf course, and eventually developed one under Alvamar Inc.

In the 1980s, Shirley Martin-Smith continued a passion for finding work for others as the owner of Martin-Smith Personnel Services. And in the 1990s, Gene Meyer, CEO of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, championed the idea that Lawrence could be home to high-tech medical procedures.

Owens, 95, took to the front of the Kansas Union Ballroom at a recognition dinner to share some memories from the floral business. One favorite of his was a 10-day trip he took to Washington to help decorate the White House with flowers during the Gerald Ford administration.

Meyer, of LMH, took the opportunity to let his family know how important they were to him. He lost his father when he was 10, and said his mother did a wonderful job of encouraging him.

“She felt that I had some attributes to be a leader, and was cut out to be in the business field,” Meyer said. “I, on the other hand, thought I was cut out to be a professional baseball player. Obviously it shows that mom knows best.”

Bev Billings accepted the honor for her late husband, Bob, who died in 2003. She spoke of her husband’s legendary generosity, and got a big laugh when she quoted a joke longtime friend Monte Johnson had delivered at Billings’ memorial service.

“If Bob had been female, he would have been pregnant all the time because he couldn’t say no.”

The Hall of Fame is sponsored by Junior Achievement of Kansas, which places volunteers from the business community into local schools to teach students about good business practices.

Shirley Martin-Smith, who owns a local Adecco franchise, expressed her support for Junior Achievement’s mission.

“A job is the most important thing to every person. Without a job, and the free enterprise system to create them, a person cannot be free to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Martin-Smith said.

This is the second class of laureates for the Hall of Fame.

“I’m thrilled that we have a business hall of fame, and we have fine people in it,” said Dale Willey, chairman of the Hall of Fame selection community and president of Dale Willey Automotive.

The Hall of Fame is housed in the Lawrence Public Library. Nominations for next year’s Hall of Fame laureates will be accepted next February.


geoismeo 6 years, 7 months ago

Shirley Martin-Smith deserves no award. She gets poor folks to go out and work and then takes part of their wages. How does this differ from a pimp?

Bob Forer 6 years, 7 months ago

A pimp usually doesn't pay income tax on his or her cut. Other than that you are pretty much spot on. She exploits the labor of poor folks. They do all of the work and she makes most of the money. Capitalism at its finest. .

optimist 6 years, 7 months ago

Of those that take to ridiculing others on these posts I wonder what contributions you make to this community. Have you ever done anything with your life, your time or your treasure that benefits others in such a way that a banquet room full of people would take the time to recognize and thank you for it? I don't know you so I truly don't know the answer but I would welcome your response. I’m thinking you got nothin’.

Bob Forer 6 years, 7 months ago

I used to put people in prison for a long time for violent crimes so they would no longer be able to hurt innocent people such as you and your family. Is that enough, or do you want more?

1southernjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Just a completely idiotic point of view. How embarrassing for you.

Noweigh 6 years, 7 months ago

The "poor" people come to her because they aren't finding work on their own, for whatever reason. She links them with jobs. That keeps them off unemployment roles so you and I don't have to support them. They don't have to take them. They don't have to go see her. Congrats to them that they do and that they work. Congrats to Shirley for linking them with jobs. Her hours of volunteerism to this community has also made Lawrence a better place. Thank god her contribution wasn't trashing others on an online message board.

Lauralnk 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree I have known Shirley for over 20 years and she has helped many of my friends and family get jobs quickly. You have it wrong about the money she gets. It does not come directly from the employees share, it comes from the prospective employer. She contracts with the employer for a higher rate of pay and her money comes from that extra pay. If you don't want her to make money don't go see her.

Lauralnk 6 years, 7 months ago

Sorry by you got it wrong I meant geoismeo, TheSychophant and Number_1_Grandma … have it wrong. If you are going to complain about something maybe you should actually find out how it works first.

independent_rebel 6 years, 7 months ago

I just hope the bums in this new "Occupy Wall Street" movement--you know, the whiny don't have a job folks who demand jobs from the very folks they are protesting against, watch NBC.

This revolution is dead in it's tracks. We who are the hard-workers, dreamers, and creators (i.e. the producers) will no longer rollover and give handouts to those who mooch off of us.

We who make just enough to scrape by while the "poor" walk around us with their fancy shoes, iPods, and other things they have because the essentials are given to them for nothing--enough is enough!

I say these Occupy Wall Street "revolutionists" (the Tea Party is the true revolution, by the way) need to move to Alabama. I just saw on the left's network of choice, NBC, a story about how a great new Alabama law is causing the illegals to flee, and the greedy owners of farms are crying there is no one to pick their crops.

Occupy Wall Street job seekers, meet Alabama farm owners! Don't expect your free share. Earn your own share. It's called work. Sure, it's not a cushy, six-figure desk job, but then again, a low-end, entry level job doesn't pay enough nor does it provide as much, as sitting on your ass and doing nothing but demand hand-outs from the rest of us.

Revolutionists, prove to us you really want jobs. Use your hands to work the land and not to take free money and be forever shackled to "The Man!"

LHS56 6 years, 7 months ago

My experience was that the employer paid the fee for placement, not the employee. I believe Shirley's company fills a need in the community. People want to work and haven't had success on their own. If Shirley's firm can place them....great. And yes, she has given hours and hours of her time to our community. How many of us sitting here on our butts can say the same? Thank you Shirley.

thepianoman 6 years, 7 months ago

I heard the cocktail/dinner pianist was phenomenal!!! :)

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