SUNFLOWER BALLROOM, TOPEKA – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts today honored a member of his staff, a friend and Kansan of the Year, Harold Stones, at the Kansas Native Sons and Daughters Banquet in Topeka.
Since 1997, Harold Stones has served as Senator Roberts’ Kansas Special Projects Director since. Roberts has asked Stones to primarily be a liaison with military bases in Kansas, and additionally with local governments, economic development groups, chambers of commerce and with companies who create jobs for Kansans. For Stones’ complete biography, please visit here.
The following is text of the Senator’s prepared remarks:
“It is both a privilege and pleasure for Franki and me to once again participate in our traditional Native Sons and Daughters ceremonies so important and relevant to Kansas Day and our state's history.
“My ever vigilant and constantly concerned staff (‘Did you tell him in no uncertain terms to stay on script? Yes, but you know how he is.’) and many of you have heard me say:
"The road of high humility is not often bothered by heavy traffic in Washington but it is indeed a humbling experience to be with you today. Well, folks, this evening I may have a tad of humbleness but most of all I am proud, proud to have the privilege of introducing a truly humble man B a wonderful trait - God given and self taught.
“When asked why he thought he was selected as Kansan of the Year, Harold told me, ‘Well, I think it’s because of 40 years of record attendance at the event and due to the drought, the crops were pretty thin.’
“Harold – we all know better.
“Without gilding the lily, our recipient is also kind, optimistic (hard to be in these times), patient, tolerant, wise and a personal friend to everyone in this audience whether you know it or not. He, and his beloved wife, Patty and his family here tonight know, is also quite a character.
“While all that is true and relevant, the important point is that these imbedded character traits have enabled Harold Stones to achieve so much in behalf of so many people B almost all of his success unheralded and behind the scenes.
“As the last standing Marine in the U.S. Senate, I am most familiar of the quote by Admiral Chester Nimitz displayed on the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial: ‘Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue.’ Tonight, we are honoring a man who would say he is simply a common man. But that is only half the story. He is a common man but one with uncommon achievement in behalf of others.
“You all have the biography of our Kansan of the Year on your tables. Let me briefly tell you, the rest of the story. His heritage born and raised on a small farm in Smith County. Let’s just say upon their personal reflection, both Harold and his brother Charles truly know what hard times were. The times were hard but they forged the values of love of family, hard work, respect for others and the drive to succeed B all virtues of Boot Strap America and the American Dream.
Harold's first accolade came in getting a ten year Gold Star pin from the Mount Hope Country Church for memorizing two Bible verses, something that would come in handy later. The Bio says simply he graduated from Lebanon High School and received his Bachelors and Masters from Fort Hays State University.
“What the bio does not say that during those years there were no Pell Grants, student loans, or any other education assistance programs we now believe are entitlements. How did he do it? He worked. And, he worked as a Bell Hop part time at the old Lamer Hotel run by H.B Lamer, who by the way, was Grand Marshall of the Inaugural Parade for Ike in 1952.
“Soaking wet at 150 pounds, toting bags was hard work; but not as hard as his farm home beginnings. His only mistake, showing Horace Heidt, then of national radio fame with the Horace Heidt Show, a talent contest, the wrong (very small) room instead of the King Suite. Horace checked out, Harold explained it was the right key for the wrong room. He kept his job. I might add despite strong verbal and physical protest, I am embarrassed to say Harold still insists on carrying my bags.
“The bio says he was Associate Professor of Speech, Debate Coach and Director of Alumni Affairs and Student Placement. Today, that would have involved at least five faculty members. What it does not say: Harold was a champion debater, highly successful debate coach, played a key role in alumni contributions with good friends like Bill Robbins to his alma mater leading to many programs and new buildings of education excellence and helping hundreds of students go to school, find a job, and succeed.
“The bio also leaves out that Harold was a member of the then national and well known Knife and Fork Club and traveled all over the country giving inspirational speeches for a meager fee and expenses not to mention giving pinch hit sermons at local churches….Remember that Gold Star and the two Bible verses?!
“The bio lists all of his military awards from Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth. That is because Harold Stones in my behalf and his love of those who wear our nation's uniform has attended virtually every important military meeting in the last 15 years B meetings that led to the return of the Big Red One to Fort Riley, key issues at McConnell in Wichita, the new Lewis and Clark Center in Leavenworth and, B and, attending the services of every person in uniform whether stationed in or from Kansas who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“The bio says he went to Bosnia back in 97 representing our country. There he was in the middle of a situation as difficult as the days of Bleeding Kansas trying to get three ethnic groups to come together and help Bosnian bankers to get along and organize themselves to develop free market financial laws to assist their local communities. Our good friend Larry Williams from Halstead was riding shotgun. They met with bankers from all areas and did achieve at least some common ground.
“The bio says he is Special Projects Director for a Kansas Senator. That's true. But he is so much more. Angry callers, Harold takes them all and in most cases tames them. If he can't, he takes the number and calls them back. Who does that? Having ridden herd on Kansas Bankers for 30 years, there is no job big or small that Harold can and does do. He will find the bucket, fill the bucket and tote the bucket without spilling a drop and gives others the credit. There are many in this room that have done that in one endeavor or another. Harold has earned and deserves this recognition. But being the man he is he would argue many in this audience would merit the same. He would say it's what Kansans do.
“He mentors our young staff, argues with our top staff and gently points out on occasion, ‘That's not the Pat Roberts I know.’ Our office motto that works most of the time:
“‘Smother your enemies with the milk of human kindness and just hope it doesn't curdle.’
“I do feel sorry for my State Director Chad Tenpenny. Chad, Harold and I have been on every Federal, state, county and in some cases gravel road in Kansas and Chad has had to listen to every story Harold and I have told B many times over because we enjoy them so much.
“The only time I said I was going to fire Harold was when he arranged a long request for me to ride in a new tank secured by a National Guard unit in a small community in Southeast Kansas. Suffice it to say, helmeted and strapped in looking like Michael Dukakis, the young tanker showed us what his tanks could do at 40 mph over hill, cliff, dale, ravine, ditch, and a very dusty farm field.
“The tank finally stopped where we were to be greeted with the unit command, assorted officials, the Mayor and the local newspaper photographer. You get out of this tank by kipping, grabbing the top bar and pulling up and kipping out of the rear of the tank. Marine and Senator Roberts got out by crawling backwards through the dust in a dark dust-covered suit and tie. The front page of the local paper headlined, ‘Roberts BACKS out of new guard tank’….with an appropriate photo to match.
“Harold Stones, you are the best friend anyone could ever have. He has stood behind me when I have taken the bows and beside me when I have taken the boo's. He has seen right through me and still enjoyed the show.
“True friendship exists when silence between two people is comfortable. Men usually have a lot of trouble expressing emotion. I remember once at a town hall meeting. Packed crowd. An elderly lady came late. Right off the bat, Harold gave her his seat, found another. An acquaintance next to me said, ‘I just love that man.’ And, I said suddenly choking up, ‘we all do.’ Fellow Native Sons and Daughters: The Kansan of the Year for 2012, Harold Stones.”