Reno Bobwhites gather to honor club, leader’s 50 years as member
Donna Wiley and her husband, Francis, had the first Reno Bobwhite 4-H Club meeting in February 1963 at their home in southern Leavenworth County.
Now, 50 years later, the Bobwhites and Wileys are still going strong.
The club had an open house Sunday to celebrate its half-century of involvement in 4-H.
Donna Wiley said nearly 90 people attended the open house. Her son, Rob, served as master of ceremonies and commemorative T-shirts were given to this year’s members — the Reno Bobwhites have 58 members this year.
“It was fun. We had lots of cake,” Wiley said with a laugh.
Donna and Francis Wiley were the first organizational leaders, along with the late Frank Hagenbuch. Francis Wiley and Hagenbuch served for 25 years, while Donna Wiley continues to be a leader. June Hagenbuch was chairman of the first parent committee and was at Sunday’s celebration.
Clubs generally have two organizational leaders serving together. Others who have served with Donna Wiley were Richard and Nancy Smith, Lynn Paul, Judy LeMaster and Janice McCue.
Past project leaders at the open house were Gertrude Dunlap, Dorothy Korb, Shirley Hand, Carolyn Pantle, Lloyd and Jean Pearson and Geoff and Janice McCue.
Charter members in attendance were Cheryl Wiley, Alan Wiley, Crystal Wiley Miles, Kerry Holton, Theola Holton Mannell and Lori Hagenbuch Fink.
Michelle McIntyre and Crystal Miles currently serve as community leaders with Wiley.
McIntyre said the event allowed for much reminiscing.
“It was really cool,” she said. “All the information collected from 1963 was on display for everyone to see up until the current year. It was entertaining and fun. There wasn’t a dull moment.”
The club got its name because of the many Bobwhite quail in the Reno area in southern Leavenworth County.
Other charter members who joined in 1963: George Grinter, Tom Grinter, Kevin Holton, Logan Hagenbuch, Leah Harriman, Susan Harriman, Bill Cleaver, Fred Cleaver, Bobby Gildewell, Bernie Gildewell, Steven Sturgeon, Rod Sturgeon, Mary Beth Miller, Patty Miller and Mary Jo Wickey. In 1964, the Friendship Valley disbanded and joined the Reno Bobwhites. That club was named after the school and community north of Tonganoxie.
The club picked up ears of corn that had been left in fields after harvesting for its first fundraiser. For the past several years, the club’s fundraiser is the Clover Café in the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds Administration Building during the Leavenworth County Fair.
The club helped with landscaping for the roadside park at U.S. Highway 24-40 and Washington Street in 1976. The club received a $200 grant from South Western Bell Telephone Company. The Bobwhites designed, planted and landscaped the trees in the park with help from the Tonganoxie Jaycees.
Through the years, the club has had several state project winners and youths earn trips to the National 4-H Congress. Other accolades include representing Kansas and 4-H in the American Royal parade and groundbreaking ceremonies at Kemper Arena.
Reno Bobwhites also have hosted a safety day camp the past 16 years.
Donna Wiley has led the club since its inception and in 1981 became the first recipient of the 4-H Spirit Award. She was coordinator for the County Council 4-H Food Stand during the fair for 35 years. She also helped plan two of the food stands at the fairgrounds. The first stand was built in 1972 and then in 1996 the original stand was turned into an eating area. In 2000, the eating area was named in her honor, the Donna R. Wiley Pavilion. She actually planned to resign as club leader twice, but stayed on because of discussions to disband the club.
She also was one of the founders of the Leavenworth County 4-H Foundation in 1998 and currently is president. She said she’s had much help from her family and the club has been blessed with active 4-H members.
“We are very proud of our club and the accomplishments of the members and leaders,” Wiley said. “Our club will continue to strive to live up to the 4-H motto, ‘To Make the Best Better,’ in the years to come as those before us have done in the past 50 years.”
Wiley retired from the Lawrence Journal-World in 2010 after working for the company for 50 years.
National 4-H Week is next week and the Reno Bobwhite 4-H Club will have an exhibit at First State Bank and Trust.
To view the club’s work, visit the bank’s downtown Tonganoxie location.