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Conrow family selected as Kansas State University's Family of the Year

Monday, Sept. 29, 2014



MANHATTAN — Four generations of the Conrow family have been steadfast Kansas State University fans since 1913 and now their legacy has been formally recognized.

The Conrow family received the 2014 Kansas State University Family of the Year honor at Family Day on Sept. 27. They were honored at the football game against University of Texas, El Paso. William Augustus and Lena May Conrow moved to Manhattan in 1913 so their nine children — Aubrey, Lena, Grace, Sarah, John, Ida, William, Frank and Ned — could continue their education at Kansas State Agricultural College. Four generations later, descendants carry on as current Kansas State University students, alumni and supporters.

Chimes, the junior honorary, selects the university's Family of the Year based on three criteria: how the family is affiliated with the university; the way they show their loyalty and pride in Kansas State University; and what role family plays in their lives.

"Chimes Junior Honorary chose this family because of their extreme dedication to K-State," said Ciara Chambers, junior in political science, Spanish and international studies, Derby, and Chimes co-chair of events. "We loved that in their application they stressed how their family lived out every part of the alma mater in their everyday life."

Hannah Sharp, junior in finance, Derby, and Chimes co-chair of events, said, "Chimes had many outstanding applications and it was difficult to choose just one family to honor. However, this family stood out to us because Kansas State has been a part of every family event and they have been dedicated members of the K-State family for so long."

The Conrows gather in Manhattan every year for Thanksgiving, which often ends with a family football game at Memorial Stadium. Supporters of university athletics, the family has had season football tickets since 1940. In 2001, the university honored Ida Conrow McGehee, one of the family's first nine children to attend Kansas State University and a former rowing athlete, by naming one of the rowing team's boats after her.

Although athletics are a large part of the family's extracurricular activities, they are passionate about their education.

"William and Lena Conrow had the foresight to realize the importance of higher education back in the early 1900s," said Debbie Lair, a third-generation Wildcat who nominated her family for the award. "We know we have good educations because of them and the traditions they instilled in their children."

Lair and her husband, Jeff, along with other family members, were presented with a plaque at the football game. Members of the Conrow family who were present at the ceremony include:

Leanna and Luke Chaffee, Auburn; Sam McGehee and Sammy McGehee, both from Goddard.

From Hesston: John McGehee; Greg and Mary McGehee; Scott McGehee, freshman in personal financial planning; and Rachelle McGehee, a senior in secondary education-mathematics.

Debbie and Jeff Lair, and Sara Lair, junior in elementary education, all from Leawood; Rita and John Cassida, and Calvin and Katherine Cassida, all from Louisburg; Janet Conrow Howland, Manhattan; Arch and Chili McGehee, Ottawa; Jenn Marasco, and Titus Marasco, both from Overland Park.

From Wichita: Richard McGehee; Dwight and Fern McGehee; and Blair McGehee, freshman in agribusiness.

From out of state: Steve McGehee, Yukon, Oklahoma.

"This honor is a true celebration of our roots; our grandparents and parents who loved Kansas State University and blessed us all with a commitment to higher education and most importantly to remember to get together often," Lair said. "We grow our children to love the purple and the white because K-State is family to us."


Ciara Chamber

Hannah Sharp hannahshrp@gmail.com

Debbie Lair


Kansas State University
Family of the Year

News tip

Auburn, Derby, Goddard, Hesston, Leawood, Louisburg, Manhattan, Ottawa, Overland Park and Wichita, Kansas; and Yukon, Oklahoma


Download a high-resolution photo.
"Kansas Pasture" by John Steuart Curry

The William Augustus and Lena May Conrow's nine children, who all graduated from Kansas State Agriculture College.

Written by

Stephanie Jacques

At a glance

The Conrowfamily received the 2014 Kansas State University Family of the Year honor at Family Day on Sept. 27 at the football game against University of Texas El Paso.

Notable quote

"This honor is a true celebration of our roots," — Debbie Lair, third-generation Wildcat and the family's nominator for the award.