Bringing People Together.... One Last Time

The gathering for Former Topeka Mayor Butch Felker's memorial service Friday could have been a reunion of the past 30 years of city government. Former city commissioners, like Jack Alexander; former city council people, Clark Duffy, John Nave, Lisa Stubbs, Duane Pomeroy, Sam Carkhuff and Vanessa Hill among them; county commissioners past and present; former police chief Ed Klumpp and current chief Ron Miller; former fire chiefs Dennis Phillips and Randy Currie along with current chief Howard Giles; current councilman Jeff Preisner, Mayor Bill Bunten and City Manager Norton Bonaparte also joined the crowd. They were mixed among representatives of a wide array of community organization - Nancy Perry from United Way, Patty Dick from the Arthritis Foundation, Chamber of Commerce head Doug Kinsinger and Washburn President Jerry Farley. It was a testament to what the four men who spoke about Felker described - a man who spent a lifetime bringing people together. John Mennick said it went back to Felker's days as class president at Washburn. Mennick said Felker was always respectful, never one to belittle another person's ideas. If he didn't agree with you, Mennick said, Felker would  explain why he thought his idea was better, then include ideas from his opponents and present a consensus. Most votes went Felker's way, Mennick said, but if they didn't, he would always shake your hand. I do remember that about Felker. When he re-sought the Mayor's office in 2001, he said one of the things he was proud of was that during his first stint as Mayor, there weren't very many five-to-four council votes. He prided himself on being able to foster compromise, so that issues could move forward. Looking at the crowd gathered at Grace Cathedral Friday, it seems Felker was able to do final time.



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