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Cattle Trader, Merchant and Newsman to be Inducted into Kansas Business Hall of Fame

May 16, 2018

A bullwhacker turned store-owner and a Kansas newsman with a background in law will be inducted next month into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame.

The late Robert M. Wright and Bill Kurtis will be recognized at the KBHF induction ceremony during the 46th annual Team Kansas Awards Banquet on Tuesday, June 5, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Lawrence. 

Along with the KBHF induction during the Team Kansas Annual Awards Banquet, the Team Kansas Silver Stirrup Award, Kansas Business Hall of Fame Awards, Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award, and Governor’s Award of Excellence are presented. Reservations are being accepted through May 25. Tickets cost $60 per person or $600 for a 10-person table. Contact Mary Perez at (785) 296-4225 or mary.perez@ks.gov. 

The ceremony marks the 30th year of inductions into the Kansas Business Hall of Fame, located at Emporia State University. Business leaders selected for the KBHF are widely known for their contributions to Kansas and are recognized as role models. The KBHF recognizes historical contributors and present-day leaders who have made private enterprise work in Kansas and throughout the country.

At the age of 16, Wright took an overland trip to Denver, Colorado, as a trader, crossing the plains by wagon and coach. Wright was also a contractor for hauling grain and cutting hay and wood during this time. His experiences landed him a job as a post trader and as a representative of Dodge County in the Legislation at Fort Dodge in 1867. By 1872, Wright owned one of the largest commercial empires in the area, a general store in Dodge City.

Kurtis, a Florida native, graduated from The University of Kansas in 1962 with a degree in journalism. While seeking his Juris Doctorate at Washburn University, Kurtis worked as a television reporter in the area. Soon after experiencing and reporting an F5 tornado, Bill Kurtis abandoned his law degree and decided to pursue broadcasting at CBS in Chicago. Giving up his promising law degree proved to be an appropriate decision as he soon gained the respect of viewers, providing him with exceptional opportunities. Best known for hosting shows such as American JusticeInvestigative Reports, and Cold Case Files, Kurtis also worked in a few films and television commercials.

Kurtis now resides in Sedan, Kansas, where he renovated old buildings, such as donut shops, gift shops, and convenience stores, into tourist attractions. In 2005, Kurtis founded Tallgrass Beef Co., focusing on the health and environmental benefits of organic, grass-fed beef. Between working with his company and renovating old Kansas towns, Kurtis still manages to appear in some television commercials. 

For more information on the Kansas Business Hall of Fame and to read about all the past inductees, please visit http://www.ksbhf.org.

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