West one of ‘50 Kansans You Should Know’

2/15/2013

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

In its January issue, the Kansas City business magazine Ingram’s named longtime resident and former Garden City mayor Duane West as one of 2013’s “50 Kansans You Should Know.”

Ingram’s, whose coverage area includes Kansas and Missouri, focuses on business-related sectors such as banking, financial services, construction, development, education, the workforce, health care and insurance.

According to Managing Editor Dennis Boone, the magazine launched the “50 You Should Know” list in 2011, both in Missouri and Kansas, as part of an initiative to draw more traffic to its new website, and to also introduce the magazine to readers outside the Kansas City metro area.

“We wanted it to be a little bit different,” Boone said. “We wanted it to be representative of Kansas statewide, not just the business climate, but educational, cultural, sporting, and entertainment venues as well. We try hard not to let it be dominated by Kansas City or Wichita.”

West was both surprised and flattered to be included.

“In looking over the other 49 folks, there are a lot of heavy-hitters. Their accoutrements and accomplishments are far above mine,” West said. “There are a lot of other people in the state who I think would have been better than me, including some of my friends and acquaintances here in Garden City. But it’s kind of a neat deal and I appreciate the compliment.”

Boone said “without question” it was West’s role as county attorney in 1959 helping to prosecute the two men who murdered Herb Clutter and his family near Holcomb that drew the magazine’s initial attention.

“I found it astonishing that a prosecutor would be alive, let alone be as engaging as he is. We had a great conversation, and there’s so much more to his life than that relatively short period of it,” Boone said.

Boone said in addition to people of accomplishment, the magazine looks for people with interesting stories to tell. West’s decades as a civic leader, attorney and even a playwright fit that criteria, he said.

Some of West’s accomplishments include serving on the city commission for 12 years from 1973-85 including two years as mayor; aiding efforts to start Buffalo Dunes Golf Course; and in the past couple of years writing a musical about the life of Buffalo Jones, one of Garden City’s founders.

West’s love of art drew him to the unique work of former Dodge City artist Jesse Montes, who turns corrugated cardboard into intricate, colorful portraits and sculptures. Since 1998, West and his wife, Orvileta, have represented Montes bringing his art to a variety of galleries across the country.

Outside of Garden City, West is likely most well-known for being county attorney at the time of the Clutter family murders. While he can’t change that, West would much prefer to be remembered as the person who wrote, “Dream Your Dreams: The Buffalo Jones Story.”

“I think he was such a unique individual, and part of true Americana. His story deserves to be known far and wide,” West said.

Asked what he considers his biggest accomplishment, West said it was marrying Orvileta and raising two children.

“When I was introduced to my wife, bells rang,” West said. “It was up in Hays where she was in school. A friend introduced me to her and bells rang. She didn’t hear them, but I did. Very distinctly, just like in the movies. I pat myself on the back every day that I was smart enough to recognize what was going on.”

To read the Ingram’s article, visit the magazine’s website: www.ingrams.com.

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