Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Webb, Knoll honored by DAR

  • Kaye Lynne Webb and Linda Knoll have been recognized by Oceanus Hopkins Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, with DAR Community Service Awards.

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  • Kaye Lynne Webb and Linda Knoll have been recognized by Oceanus Hopkins Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, with DAR Community Service Awards.
    The awards were presented Monday during a brief ceremony in front of the “Solidarity” mural on the second floor of the Pittsburg Public Library.
    The award was established in 1993 to recognize outstanding contributions to the community through civic, benevolent or heroic acts by citizens from a variety of walks of life, according to  Janice Brady, chapter regent.
    Recipients must have outstanding voluntary service in cultural, educational, humanitarian, patriotic, historical, citizenship, environmental conservation or organized community endeavors.
    Webb was honored for her role in establishing Immigrant Park at Second and Broadway, while Knoll was recognized for work in researching and writing a play about the Amazon Army march of December, 1921, when 6,000 women marched to protest unfair wages and dangerous working conditions of southeast Kansas coal miners.
    Kay Druart, Oceanus Hopkins vice regent, marveled at the hours of planning and fundraising Webb did that led to the development of Immigrant Park from an abandoned, debris-filled five-block area where the previous Frisco Railroad Depot and Europe Hotel were located.
    Webb insisted that the idea came from her son, Rick Webb, who suggested that something needed to be done with the area after Watco abandoned the railroad tracks there.
    Of course, the location holds a dear spot in Webb’s heart.
    “That was the exact place where my grandparents stepped off the train, and where my brother-in-law, Jim Webb, left when he was called up and went to Korea,” Webb said. “But I can’t take credit for this. People just rally for the cause. In southeast Kansas, people step up to the plate and get it done for you.”
    She also noted that, 57 years ago when she graduated, she received a DAR Good Citizens Award, which recognizes students selected by their teachers and peers because they demonstrate the qualities of dependability, service, leadership and patriotism.
    “I still have the pin on my charm bracelet,” Webb said. “I hope this means you think I’m still a good citizen.”
    Knoll was reading “Alien Women,” a poem by the late Eugene DeGruson, to her grandmother, Maggie O’Nelio one day. Her grandmother said that she had been in that march, and this spurred Knoll into doing extensive research.
    “I’m pleased to be here in front of the ‘Solidarity’ mural,” Knoll said. “It started with PAACA, the Pittsburg Arts Council, getting a grant. We had a meeting and I threw out a little about the Amazon Army.”
    Artist Wayne Wildcat painted the mural in 2000 with the Amazon Army as his topic. An educator of gifted youngsters, Knoll also gave her students an opportunity to become involved with the project, which included a trip to Wichita to interview Joe Skubitz, 93, son of Mary Skubitz, an organizer of the march.
    Page 2 of 2 - Joe Skubitz spent 16 years as a U.S. representative in Congress and remained loyal to the goals that his mother and the other women marched for. He was instrumental in the passing of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, the Black Lung Benefits Act of  1972 and the Black Lung Benefits Reform and Revenue Act of 1977.
    Knoll’s research culminated in a production of  her play, “March of the Amazon Women.”
    “Joe Skubitz came to the production and brought his son, grandchildren and a great-grandchild,” Knoll said.
    Like Webb, she tried to downplay her role and give credit to others.
    “I am only a recorder of what happened in the past,” Knoll said. “I can’t say enough about Gene DeGruson and so many others. I thank the Daughters of the American Revolution for the daughters of southeast Kansas.”
    Webb said later that her grandmother had not been involved with the march because she  would have considered it too radical, though her great-aunt and great-uncle were involved in the turmoil.
    “I’m really glad to be honored with Linda Knoll, because she lives up to the title of Amazon,” Webb said.
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