Four longtime leaders chosen for 2024 induction into Lawrence Business Hall of Fame
photo by: Submitted
Bob Schumm started his restaurant business on the steps of Lawrence fraternity and sorority houses.
Deanell Tacha had a legal career that took her one step away from a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mike McGrew has sold thousands of front steps and every other part of Lawrence and Douglas County homes.
But Peggy Johnson might lay claim to the sweetest career step. Her doughnuts and coffee at Jennings Daylight Donuts, were the first step to waking up for many a resident years ago.
Now, all four longtime local executives are one step closer to becoming the newest inductees into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame.
Schumm, Tacha, McGrew and Johnson were introduced Monday morning as the 2024 Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted at a ceremony and fundraiser for the local Junior Achievement chapter in May.
Junior Achievement, a nonprofit that provides business and financial literacy classes at local K-12 schools, has been the organizer of the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame for years. The hall itself is inside the Lawrence Public Library, where photos and biographies of hall of fame members date back to the inaugural class of 2010.
The induction ceremony is set for 6:15 p.m. on May 14 at the Burge Union at the University of Kansas. Proceeds from the dinner and event will go toward supporting the operation of the local Junior Achievement program, which teaches hundreds of students in the Lawrence public school system, using volunteers from the business community to provide lessons on topics such as money, financial planning, entrepreneurship and related subjects.
Here’s a quick look at each member of the 2024 class.
• Peggy Johnson came onto the Lawrence business scene in the 1970s in the doughnut business, but ended up having a career far more varied. She was the owner and operator of Jennings Daylight Donuts in downtown Lawrence from 1976 to 1993, but midway through that career she got into the liquor store business. From 1988 to 1999 she was an owner of the Johnson Liquor Store and the Cork & Barrel Liquor Store operations. She finished her career in the financial services industry as a certified financial adviser for Ameriprise Financial Services. She was in that business for more than 20 years, retiring in 2015.
More recently, she served as the board chair of the United Way of Douglas County and helped guide its merger with the United Way in Shawnee County, forming the new United Way of Kaw Valley.
“I believe there is much we can do, if we work together,” Johnson said of her approach to business and the community.
• Mike McGrew has been in his family’s real estate business, McGrew Real Estate, since 1982. He’s been the CEO of the company since 2006 and also has been a top executive in the national real estate industry. McGrew currently is the national president for the Realtors Relief Foundation, which provides millions of dollars in housing-related assistance following disasters ranging from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to hurricanes and other natural disasters.
McGrew worked closely with two previous hall of fame members — his father and longtime real estate leader, John McGrew; and Bob Billings, the late founder of the residential development firm Alvamar Inc. Mike McGrew said they and others provided lessons in the importance of perseverance, especially in Lawrence, where growth and development projects sometimes can be hard to complete. But he said the work was almost always worth the effort.
“It is just an amazing community and, difficulties aside, why would you want to be anywhere else?” he said.
• Bob Schumm started his first food service business in the 1960s as a senior at KU. He sold sandwiches and hard boiled eggs door to door to fraternity and sorority houses surrounding the university. He went on to own several restaurants, including Mass Street Deli for 37 years and Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse for nearly 40 years before retiring and closing the BBQ restaurant in 2014.
Schumm also was a Lawrence city commissioner and served as mayor for three terms. He was on the commission that approved the Rock Chalk Park sports complex, and also was involved in many efforts to preserve downtown Lawrence. Whether it be in politics or business, Schumm said it was important to be committed to moving forward in both good times and bad.
“I can’t think of anything special I did, but I got up, got dressed and went to work,” Schumm said of his career. “I just kept doing that day after day, and here I am.”
• Deanell Tacha had a legal career that took her all the way to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Tacha, who prior to becoming a judge was a vice chancellor at KU, served for 25 years on the 10th Circuit bench, and was the chief judge for the circuit for six years. After retiring from the court in 2011, she became the dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law, until retiring in 2017.
She has worked with a variety of nonprofits and was one of the founding organizers of the Freedom/s Frontier National Heritage Area, which highlights the Civil War history of eastern Kansas and western Missouri.Tacha told a crowd at the hall of fame announcement at the Jayhawk Club on Monday morning that Lawrence has an opportunity to be a part of many innovative ventures.
“I believe that a community like Lawrence can be a laboratory that models good people doing good things, both for people who can do for themselves and those who cannot do for themselves,” she said.
The inductees were selected by an anonymous selection committee put together by Junior Achievement that used a set of guidelines related to business excellence, leadership success, community impact and mentoring qualities, among others.