Four Inducted into Lawrence Business Hall of Fame | Junior Achievement of Kansas

Four Inducted Into Lawrence Business Hall of Fame

Four businessmen and women were inducted into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame at a black-tie event in Lawrence on Tuesday, October 8. The 2019 inductees include Deanna Bisel with Minuteman Press; Steve Edmonds with Edmonds Duncan Registered Investment Advisors, the late Alan "Al" Hack, Jr. with The University Shop and Lawrence National Bank; and Sandy Praeger, retired Kansas Insurance Commissioner.

The evening began with a VIP reception for the honorees' friends and family to offer well wishes. Upon the procession of 13 past laureates and the introduction of the 2019 laureates, the event was treated to dinner and a musical interlude by the Lawrence Children's Choir. Dr. Anthony Lewis, Superintendent, Lawrence Public Schools, spoke to the partnership between Junior Achievement of Kansas and the Lawrence Public Schools, noting the similarity between the mission statements and that JA volunteers set a great example for students.

This year was the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame and included a special Inspiration Award given to Dale Willey. Willey was instrumental in the creation of the decade-long event. A new giving opportunity, the Inspiration Society, was created in honor of Willey's Inspiration Award. 

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Brian Hanni, the voice of the Kansas Jayhawks. Co-emceeing with Hanni were local Lawrence elementary school students: Natalia Kalusah Aguirre, Memphis Branum, Peyten VanHorn and Dalton Craig from Cordley, Pinckney, Broken Arrow and Woodlawn Elementary, respectively.

Deanna Bisel noted that the nights' honor was, "truly humbling." She thanked past and present Minuteman Press staff. Bisel told stories of her grandparents' fire extinguisher sales, diner and beer joint businesses in addition to her mother's seamstress entrepreneurial work. She noted that her third generation business spirit was gained through watching the generations before her.

Steve Edmonds, who was also celebrating a birthday, said that "You have to choose what you do in life." Edmonds recognized the value of hard work through working with his father in the grocery business, and shared his optimistic spirit with the guests, noting, "Life is better when you're optimistic." Edmonds commented that first and foremost, "I am a Lawrence person."

The late Alan "Al" Hack, Jr., was represented by his wife Julie and son Al, or "little Al," as he is affectionately referred to. They both commemorated on Hack's many achievements, and told the story of his beginnings in starting the business. "Al knew how important it was to have a strong handshake and look someone straight in the eye. Over the years, he hired around 100 business people, teaching them the same skills. Al helped keep Lawrence the town that we love."

Sandy Praeger shared that in the beginning, she wanted to be part of a community where she could be involved. After laughs from the audience of her husband saying, "My husband didn't know how involved I would be," Praeger noted her beginnings with the Douglas County Planning Commission, which began her career in politics. More than anything, Praeger recognized that "It is so much more than a job to help people, which is what we did every day.

The Lawrence Business Hall of Fame was sponsored by Adecco, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, CEK Insurance / Auto Owner's Insurance, Crown Automotive, DoubleTree by Hilton, Edmonds Duncan Registered Investment Advisors, Emprise Bank, Evergy, HyVee, KLWN, Lawrence Business Magazine, Lawrence Journal-World, McDonalds, Minuteman Press, Moonblind Productions, P1 Group, RCB Bank, Truity Credit Union, US Bank and Wealth Management Group.

The 2019 laureates marked the 37th through 40th laureates inducted into the Lawrence Business Hall of Fame. The laureate videos can be found at the Junior Achievement of Kansas website. Located in the lower level of the Lawrence Public Library is the permanent Lawrence Business Hall of Fame exhibit.

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