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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Clayton Powers donated a classic grandfather clock to the Hotel Stilwell

  • A handsome grandfather clock, a prized possession of the  Stephens family for decades, now stands in the Hotel Stilwell lobby as a memorial to beloved Pittsburgh High School  English teacher Sara Stephens.

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  • A handsome grandfather clock, a prized possession of the  Stephens family for decades, now stands in the Hotel Stilwell lobby as a memorial to beloved Pittsburgh High School  English teacher Sara Stephens.
    The clock was donated recently by Clayton Powers, who had assisted Miss Stephens in her later life.
    “The way I got acquainted with her was when I was driving the church bus,” Powers said. “I took principalship at Pittsburg High School, and she told me that she had taught there.”
    From there, the retired teacher occasionally asked Powers if he knew someone who might be able to do this or that small task for her, and he generally was able to do it. During the last 10 years of her life, when her lawyer advised her to choose someone she trusted to have her power of attorney, she selected him.
    Stephens left the clock, manufactured in 1925, to him in her will.
    “Her folks moved here from Kentucky, and they had Sara on the way to Kansas,” Powers said. “Her dad worked at one of the banks. They drove from Pittsburg to Seattle, Wash., in a Model T to pick up this grandfather clock, and  drove back with the clock in the back seat with Sara.”
    Miss Stephens was a 1915 PHS graduate and graduated in 1919 from State Manual Training Normal School with a lifetime teaching certificate. She later earned a master’s degree from Kansas State Teachers College, and was part of the first class to graduate with a master’s degree.
    She began her teaching career in 1919 at Moran High School. She taught at  Frontenac High School from 1921 to 1929, and at Girard High School from 1931 to 1932. She was at PHS from 1936 until her retirement in 1963.
    “Once a girl came up to her and said, ‘Miss Stephens, I’m an A student,’ and Sara said, ‘That’s right, you’re a student in my class’,” Powers said. “That gives you an idea of her humor.”
    While he was touched to be remembered with the clock, Powers also wasn’t sure that his home was the proper place for it.
    “I thought about trying to sell it on eBay, but then I got in touch with Laura Carlson and asked if she thought the Stilwell board might accept it as a donation,” Powers said. “Laura said she would take it to the board.”
    “We were delighted,” said Sara Henry, executive director. “We love additions to the hotel. It’s an honor to us when someone donates something to us.”
    The clock was not functioning when it arrived because of a broken cable. However, jeweler Martin “Buddy” Benelli Jr., who has his shop in the Stilwell, took care of that.
    “It’s now keeping good time, except that it hasn’t been set an hour ahead yet for Daylight Saving Time,” Henry said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Powers is happy and believes the clock is exactly where it should be.
    “It’s Sara’s clock, really, and it belongs here in Pittsburg,” he said.
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