Ever since a 2010 law changed how vanity license plates worked in Kansas, the 42 people who had the license plate “JAYHAWK” suddenly went down to one.
Before that law, the same plate could be registered in each of Kansas’ 105 counties. Today, there can be only one across the entire state.
The license plate went to the person who had it the longest, and that was Pamela Barker, a 59-year-old hardware store owner in Minneapolis, a town about a half-hour north of Salina in Ottawa County.
She doesn’t remember exactly when she got it, but she knows the first car it went on was a red 1970s Corvette. But when her children began to get old enough to drive, that was the end of that car.
“It had way too big of an engine,” she said.
The license plate is now on a Chevy Tahoe, and it’s a hit at football tailgates, Barker said.
Barker is a KU alumna, graduating in journalism in 1976, and is a pretty big KU fan. She’s been a member of the Williams Education Fund and a member of the advisory board for the KU Endowment Association’s Chancellor’s Club, which supports fundraising for academics.
Anne Hall, a Lawrence resident and Barker’s daughter, remembered the letter from the state that went out to all plate owners detailing the new rules and how most people would have to give up their plates. Only one would be allowed to keep it.
“At the bottom of the letter, it said the only person is you,” Hall said.
She doesn’t plan on giving it up soon, either. As long as she keeps renewing it each March, she’ll keep it, Barker said.
Her husband, three daughters and two sons-in-law all attended KU, too, she said.
“Unfortunately I am about to acquire a son-in-law who is a Wildcat,” she said.
He’s a pretty good guy, though, she said. So good, she allowed him to take one ticket for the recent KU-K-State game in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I told him, ‘Be true to your school and cheer, but please don’t wear purple and sit in my seat,’” she said.