Four longtime, local business leaders — ranging from a drapery maker to a former executive of Hallmark Cards — have been chosen as the newest inductees into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame.
Members of Lawrence’s Junior Achievement organization — which organizes the Hall of Fame — announced on Thursday interior store owner Jane Bateman, banker Don Johnston, real estate broker Bob Stephens, and the late Roger Hill, a former executive for Hallmark Cards, will be inducted into the hall at a ceremony on Sept. 27.
“Every one of these people has spent so much time making Lawrence better for everyone else,” said Dale Willey, chairman of the Hall of Fame’s committee. “That is really what we want to show the students who participate in the Junior Achievement programs. We want to show them in living color the people who work to make a difference in this community.”
Hill, who died in 1988, served 15 years as the manager for Hallmark Cards’ Lawrence production plant in the 1970s and 1980s. Hill served on a number of boards, twice serving as chair of the local United Way campaign. The organization named its Roger Hill Volunteer Center in his honor.
Hill’s daughter Kathy Hill Habiger said her father was a noted recruiter of volunteers because people had such a hard time saying no to him.
“People really could sense that he really believed in whatever he was giving his time to,” Habiger said. “He would be very humbled today.”
Bateman is the owner of Jane Bateman The Interiors Store, which dates back to the late 1970s. Bateman, who got her start with a business called The Drapery Maker, has won the Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award and the Wally Galluzzi volunteer award. Bateman said when Willey called her recently, she was sure it was to ask her to serve on another board or committee. She said she was “blown away” when he informed her of the Business Hall of Fame honor. But she said she probably would have agreed to serve on another board, too.
“I have always thought that serving in the community is a good way to hear a bunch of good thoughts that you can take back to your business,” Bateman said. “I try to look for ways to have a good time while serving a good cause.”
Stephens is the founder of Stephens Real Estate and has served as one of the prominent residential developers in the city since the late 1970s. But Thursday’s ceremony also reminded audience members that Stephens once had another career — milk man. Stephens was in the milk delivery business from 1963 to 1969, and it was that business that brought him to Lawrence in 1964. Stephens said it couldn’t have been a better move.
“It is just amazing how good Lawrence has been to me and my family,” Stephens said.
Johnston came to Lawrence in the early 1980s to serve as president of University State Bank, and later became a part-owner of the former Lawrence travel giant Maupintour Inc. He serves as an executive with Intrust Bank in Lawrence.
Johnston told the crowd at the ceremony at the Lawrence Country Club that he and his wife often would return to Lawrence from trips to their hometowns in southern Kansas, and would feel something special when they topped the hill south of Lawrence.
“I would just always feel good when I could see Mt. Oread and the city again,” Johnston said. “Lawrence is such a welcoming place and a place of inclusion. It has been that way since its founding, and I hope it never changes.”
The four inductees will be honored in a Sept. 27 ceremony at the Kansas Union Ballroom. Each member of the group will have a portrait hung in a section of the Lawrence Public Library. The library area also includes audio presentations describing each member of the Hall of Fame, which began in 2010.