10-year resident named Basehor Citizen of the Year
William Lewis Clark's family members gathered at his side July 4 behind the Basehor-Linwood High School bleachers knowing that a secret they had fought to keep for weeks was about to be revealed.
That night, Julian Espinoza informed Clark and the crowd that assembled for part of the "West With Lewis and Clark" celebration that the 89-year-old Basehor resident was selected as this year's outstanding citizen.
Although Espinoza, City Council president, read off a laundry list's worth of reasons why Clark was worthy of the honor, one of the first things that Clark said to his family members was "well, I hope I deserve it."
"I'm overwhelmed," Clark said. "In the first place, I had no idea I would ever receive anything like this. I guess I'm at a loss for words."
The reason Clark received the honor was his involvement in Basehor over the past 10 years. Clark has served as president and treasurer of Gold PRIDE, been involved in planting flowers and assisting on trash pickups along U.S. Highway 24/40, assisted with the recycling program, helped promote a $500 scholarship for a BLHS senior, helped construct a bridge in the city park and assisted with area recognition banquets.
"One of the things I like to do is work with people," Clark said. "That's probably the best part of this whole thing."
Nevertheless, Clark said he doesn't feel the award should belong entirely to himself. Without the help of his wife, Frances, Clark said he would not have had the drive to get quite as involved.
"I would say we did a lot of things about equally," William said. "I don't know, I kind of feel like she owns half of this. Without her support and help I don't think as much would have gotten done."
Frances Clark said after she found out her husband was to receive the award, which is sponsored annually by the Basehor Chamber of Commerce, she was tempted on more than one occasion to let him in on the news.
"It's been hard keeping it from him," Frances Clark said. "I was afraid he would be upset if I didn't tell. But I guess he wasn't."
Clark has lived in Basehor for about 10 years. Prior to that he had lived in Kansas City, Kan. and northeastern Missouri. These days, he enjoys collecting old radios and spending time with his wife of 66 years.
Recently, the couple celebrated a milestone together by taking part in a symbolic road trip. For their 66th wedding anniversary, the Clarks took a trip along Route 66 through parts of Missouri and Oklahoma.
"We have found that it is very rewarding doing things together," Clark said. "Whether we are working together or spending time together, we find it very pleasing."
Although Clark said the public recognition and the plague were important honors for him, he conceded that the rewards from helping others and the community are just as great, if not better.
"There are other rewards besides this," he said.