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Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas

Kansas flagThe Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas have been honoring individuals since early 20th century who have made contributions to Kansas, the nation, and the world. The Native Sons was first organized in Topeka in 1902 to unite all native Kansans in “one harmonious body” to labor for the best interests of the state. This early organization dissolved shortly after its founding.

In 1915 the Native Daughters of Kansas was founded by Emma V. M. Nellis of Topeka. It was meant to preserve Kansas history, show loyalty to Kansas traditions, honor pioneer ancestors, and instill patriotism in youth. In 1918 the Native Sons became active, and in 1919 the two groups began holding joint meetings. Eventually they merged to form the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.

One of the combined group’s early projects was championing a bill before the state legislature providing for an appropriation to improve John Brown Park in Osawatomie. The organization has since been involved in a number of projects that include designing a state service flag in honor of Kansas natives who served in World War I, and erecting a monument honoring pioneer women.

Annual meetings are held on the eve of Kansas Day and include the announcement of Kansan of the Year, awarded to notable people born in the state, and Distinguished Kansans, for the previous year. The annual meeting also includes an announcement of the winner of the annual story contest, which was begun about 1931 with a collegiate oratorical contest. In 1936 a high school essay contest was added. Today all Kansans are invited to participate.

Learn more about the Historical Society's Native Sons and Daughter of Kansas manuscript collections.  Visit the organization's website at Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.

Kansans of the Year

The Kansan of the Year is a person who:

  • Exhibits exceptional effort and influence in his or her service to Kansans over many years, who has led a life of service to others, and who has contributed to the overall quality of life of a significant number of Kansans; or
  • Is an exceptional leader in his or her chosen profession or industry and whose professional accomplishments in the national or international arena have brought acclaim to Kansas by way of his or her roots in this state; or
  • In the opinion of the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas board of directors, has contributed to or represented our state in such a way and to such an extent as to deserve our highest honor and recognition.

2018 - Bill Graves
2017 - Philip F. Anschutz
2016 - Gale Sayers
2015 - Jim Hoy
2014 - Dayton Moore
2013 - No award
2012 - Marilyn Maye
2012 - Dick Davidson
2011 - Harold Stones
2010 - Deanell Reece Tacha
2009 - Robert M. Gates
2008 - Delano E. Lewis
2007 - Jim Richardson
2006 - Max Falkenstien
2005 - Martina McBride
2004 - Lynette Woodard
2003 - Bob Dole
2002 - Jack St. Clair Kilby
2001 - Ross Beach
2000 - Dean Smith
1999 - Shirley Knight
1998 - Pat Roberts
1996 - Robert Sudlow
1995 - Stan Herd
1994 - Samuel Ramey
1993 - John Brooks Slaughter
1992 - Steven A. Hawley
1991 - Marynell Reece
1990 - Jordan Haines
1989 - Robert Billings
1988 - Marianna K. Beach
1987 - Fred C. Bramlage
1986 - George E. Nettles, Jr.
1985 - Gordon Parks
1984 - Bernard W. Rogers
1983 - Olive White Garvey
1982 - Carl Nordstrom
1981 - Joe H. Engle
1980 - Keith G. Sebelius
1979 - Daphyne Smith Cauble
1978 - G.W. Tomanek
1977 - Emerson D. Yoder
1976 - J. Rex Duwe
1975 - Nyle H. Miller
1974 - Edward W. McNally
1973 - Lyle E. Yost
1972 - Robert L. Brock
1971 - Ray E. Dillon Sr.
1970 - Duane L. Wallace
1969 - Charles B. Rogers
1968 - Hugh F. Edwards
1967 - Debra Barnes
1966 - Jim Ryun
1965 - Debbie Bryant
1964 - Laurin W. Jones
1963 - Mary Hope (Williams) Koger
1962 - Rees H. Hughes
1961 - Harry Darby
1960 - Maurice E. Fager
1959 - Rolla A. Clymer
1958 - Mamie Boyd
1957 - Olive Ann Beech
1956 - Karl A. Menninger
1955 - Arthur D. Weber

Distinguished Kansans

2016 - James D. Latham
2015 - Jerry Farley
2014 - Harry Walter Colmery
2014 - Juan Sepulveda
2013 - Steve Doocy
2012 - No award
2011 - No award
2010 - Shelia C. Bair
2009 - No award
2008 - Bill Self
2007 - Marc Addason Asher
2006 - Richard Bergen
2005 - Marci Penner
2004 - Emery E. Fager
2003 - Ruth Garvey Fink
2002 - Richard Myers
2001 - George Brett
2000 - Jon Wefald
1999 - Pat Roberts
1998 - Bill Snyder
1997 - Elizabeth Farnsworth
1997 - Roy Williams
1993 - Donald C. Coldsmith
1992 - Patricia Brooks Carey
1991 - Ewing Kauffman
1990 - Jim Lehrer
1989 - Elizabeth Layton
1988 - Larry D. Welch
1987 - Wayne D. Angell
1985 - Richard D. Rogers
1983 - Bill Kurtis
1983 - Zula Bennington Greene
1982 - Bradbury Thompson
1981 - Georgia Neese Gray
1980 - Robert B. Docking
1979 - George M. Stafford
1978 - Nancy Landon Kassebaum
1977 - James A. McCain
1976 - Bob Dole
1972 - Henry A. Bubb
1971 - Ronald E. Evans
1969 - Alfred M. Landon

Business Leaders of the Year

The Business Leader of the Year is a person who has:

  • Shown exceptional leadership and success in his or her chosen field, including founding, building, expanding, or contributing to a business that provides jobs, resources, and pride to Kansans; or
  • Established or improved an industry through a discovery of advancement, creating or improving a product, making a scientific discovery or invention, opening a market, or otherwise contributing to the betterment of the lives of Kansans through exceptional ingenuity, vision, intelligence, and perseverance; or
  • In the opinion of the Board of Directors, has made such exceptional contribution to business as to derserve this high honor and recognition.

2018 - Don Landoll
2018 - Lisa Stehno-Bittel

Humanitarians of the Year

The Humanitarian of the Year is a person who has selflessly, generously, and steadily:

  • Shown regard for the plight of fellow Kansas, who, through the gift of time and/or financial resources, has significantly contributed to the alleviation of suffering, poverty, illness, pain, or need; or
  • Contributed to the betterment of Kansans, who, through the gift of time and/or financial resources has promoted the arts, music, education, or civic causes thereby greatly improving the quality of life in our state and for our residents; or
  • In the opinion of the Board of Directors, has show sympathy or care for fellow Kansans in such a way and to such an extent as to deserve this high honor and recognition.

2018 - Lon Frahm

Most Outstanding Kansans of the Past 100 Years

Oliver Ann Beech and Walter Beech
Robert J. Dole
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gordon Parks
William Allen White

Special Citations

2017 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Pat Roberts
2016 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Kansas State University
2015 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Washburn University
2014 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Amelia Rose Earhart
2014 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Susan Sutton
2014 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Wichita State University
2013 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Kansas State University
2013 - Citation for Distinguished Service: University of Kansas Cancer Center
2008 - Citation for Pioneers of the 21st Century: Greensburg
2007 - Citation for Distinguished Statesmanship: John William Carlin
2006 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Polly Roth Bales
2001 - Citation for Distinguished Statesmanship: Dan Glickman
2000 - Citation for Distinguished Statesmanship: Nancy Landon Kassebaum
2000 - Citation for Distinguished Service: June S. Windscheffel
1999 - Citation for Distinguished Service: Robert F. Bennett
1999 - Kansan of the Century: Dwight D. Eisenhower
1998 - Citation for Distinguished Statesmanship: William H. Avery
1991 - Artist Citation: John Steuart Curry
1989 - Centennial Citation: Dwight D. Eisenhower
1984 - Citation for Distinguished Statesmanship: Bob Dole
1980 - Kansan of the Past Decade: McDill "Huck" Boyd
1968 - 50th Anniversary Citation: Frank Carlson

Entry: Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: March 2012

Date Modified: February 2019

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.