Watkins Museum of History: Program will honor Glenn Kappelman, civic leader and activist

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Glenn Kappelman left his mark on Lawrence in many ways. From 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 29, the Watkins Museum of History will honor Kappelman’s legacy with a special program and exhibit. 

After serving in World War II, Kappelman became a realtor and community leader who worked for the common good.

In the 1960s, the issue of Fair Housing for people of color was one of the most visible fights for equality in Lawrence. Seeing the discrimination prevalent in the real estate field, Kappelman became a member of the Lawrence Human Relations Commission and a board member of the Lawrence Fair Housing Coordinating Committee, both key organizations in the passage of Lawrence’s Fair Housing Ordinance in 1967.

Founded in 1976, the Women’s Transitional Care Center grew through the efforts of a dedicated group of Lawrence women into an essential community institution providing housing and transitional support, including legal counsel and connection to mental health professionals, for women and families.

Kappelman joined the Care Center’s board of directors in 1983 and helped ensure its funding and community connections were stable. During his term on the board, the Care Center stood with community organizations such as the Ballard Center and the Salvation Army as a local community institution supported by churches and civic groups. Here, as in other areas of civic life, Kappelman created a lasting legacy of good.

The Watkins Museum of History recently opened a temporary exhibit titled Glenn Kappelman: A Life of Service, employing photographs and other documents to tell stories of his impact on Lawrence. 

In addition to his many other community roles, Glenn Kappelman was an avid local historian and worked with the Douglas County Historical Society to commemorate Lawrence’s heritage. (Photo: Douglas County Historical Society)

The museum’s public event on July 29 will pay tribute to this local benefactor through reminiscences about Kappelman by those who knew him, a presentation on his photography collection housed at the Spencer Research Library, and a screening of a selection from a 1999 film about the photos titled Through My Sites: A Gunner’s View of WWII. 

Those who knew Kappelman — and others who want to celebrate his life and work — are encouraged to join us at this event.

— Brittany Keegan is curator of exhibitions and collections and Will Haynes is director of engagement and learning at the Watkins Museum of History.

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