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Lady, Wendell (b. 1930) | Morse Department of Special Collections

Name: Lady, Wendell (b. 1930)
Fuller Form: Lady, Wendell Eugene


Historical Note:

Wendell Eugene Lady was a prominent Kansas state legislator.  Born the son of Samuel Jefferson and Mary Olive (Frey) Lady in Abilene, Kansas on December 12, 1930, he graduated from Abilene High School in 1948 and subsequently earned a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering from Kansas State University in 1952.  After graduation, he moved to Overland Park, Kansas to work as a consulting engineer and project manager for Black & Veatch, and married Mary Jean Robbins, with whom he had three children.

Lady was elected to the Overland Park City Council, which he served on from 1965-1969.  In 1967, he advocated and passed the first bond issue providing for a city parks system, and served as chairman of the council's first Parks and Recreation Committee.  He served as President of the council for one term before being elected as a State Representative for Kansas' 19th District, a seat he held for seven consecutive terms from 1968 to 1982.  He emerged as one of the leaders of a moderate faction of state Republican Party, and served as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee from 1975 to 1976, House minority leader from 1977 to 1978, and Speaker of the House from 1978 to 1982.

During Lady's time in the legislature, he was known as a strong supporter of state aid for secondary schools and universities, and supported a severance tax on oil and gas with the revenue directed to the state education system.  This put him at odds with many rural Republican representatives more oriented to oil and gas industry concerns.

Lady lost a bitterly-contested primary election bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination to Sam Hardage in 1982, and declined to return to the legislature.  He was named to the Kansas Board of Regents by Democratic Governor John Carlin, and served from 1983 to 1986 as chairman.

Lady continued to work as an architectural engineer for Black & Veatch, but retired sometime in the early 2000s.  In 2014, he emerged as one of many elder statesman of the Kansas Republican Party who spoke out against the tax policies of Governor Sam Brownback.  He joined the steering committee of the group Republicans for Kansas Values, comprised of current and former Republican officials, and criticized the tax legislation, citing its unsound fiscal policy and the impact on education funding.  He joined more than a hundred GOP politicians in supporting Democrat Paul Davis' candidacy for governor.

Sources:

Sharp, Nancy Weatherly & James Roger.  American Legislative Leaders in the Midwest, 1911-1994.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.

https://www.golfop.com/contact/history  Accessed August 2, 2017.

Note Author: Patrick C. Dittamo



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