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Murrel BlandMurrel Bland
While attending the recent funeral of Virginia Glandon at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, I was drawn to a comment she had made to the Junior League of Kansas City, Kansas, on Sept. 11, 1956. The comment was on the cover of the service bulletin. It read:
“Our community will be only as good as our citizens want it to be; and its future will be determined by their willingness to work together and actively assume the role of carefully planning for its future.”
That impressed me of how relevant that comment remains today. It was a testament of a truly renaissance woman who was visionary because she never lost sight of the importance of Wyandotte County’s history as a way of meeting continuing challenges.
During the 1950s, Virginia was one of the key leaders who helped re-establish the Wyandotte County Historical Society in the mid-1950s. Her son, Clyde C. Glandon, tells the details in his mother’s biography.
A turning point occurred when Virginia and Joe Lastelic, a reporter for The Big Daily Over Town, heard a well-prepared and highly informative speech about Ft. Osage.
She took Lastelic aside and said that something must be done to promote and preserve Wyandotte County history. Virginia, with help from Lastelic, went to work. She brokered the society’s first location on the second story of Memorial Hall.
Later Virginia and Lastelic persuaded Kansas legislators to change laws that would enable funding for the museum. That led to the building of the present museum in Wyandotte County Park, Bonner Springs.
Virginia became the first woman president of the Wyandotte County Historical Society, serving from 1955 until 1957.
Virginia became a very fierce advocate for the preservation of the Huron Indian Cemetery when the historic site was threatened by commercial interest. She led in the effort to declare the cemetery to be on the National Register of Historic Sites. Former President Harry S Truman supported this cause.
Virginia’s love for history was seen in her academic pursuits. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1967 and a Masters of Arts in history from UMKC in 1969; she received her doctorate in history from the University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1975. She taught history at UMKC, KU and Johnson County Community College, Overland Park.
Virginia Glandon, who was 94, was a dedicated and determined woman who understood the importance of history and the lessons it teaches. Although she had a significant academic career, she realized that voluntary community service was even more important, particularly for future generations.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is a lifetime member and a former trustee of the Wyandotte County Historical Society.