Lawrence Lions Alumni Association announces 2023 Hall of Honor inductees

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The Lawrence Lions Alumni Association has announced a civil rights activist, a teacher and a musician as the 2023 Hall of Honor inductees.

This year’s recognitions are all posthumous, but the recipients’ legacies “continue to inspire us all,” the association said in a news release Saturday.

“The LLAA Hall of Honor recognizes graduates of Liberty Memorial High School and Lawrence High School who have distinguished themselves in their professions and/or made significant contributions to society on a state, national and/or international level,” according to the release. “Honorees also may include individuals who, while not alumni, have contributed significantly to the success of the two schools and their graduates.”

Here are the 2023 inductees and some information about them provided by LLAA:

John Hutcherson Spearman Sr.: “A dedicated advocate for civil rights and equality, John Hutcherson Spearman Sr.’s impact on Lawrence is immeasurable. From his service in the segregated WWII 159th Field Artillery Battalion, 25th Infantry Division in occupied Japan to his work as an industrial engineer and a leader in community organizations, John’s commitment to a just and inclusive society touched countless lives. He and his late wife, Vernell, stood at the forefront of efforts to enhance education, social justice, and equal opportunity for all.”

Debra Ann (H) Green: “Born in Lawrence, KS, Debra Ann Green attended Lawrence High School during the transformative late 1960s. After graduating, she pursued higher education at the University of Kansas, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Minor in math. She later returned to her alma mater to teach English and math for 31 years, leaving an indelible impact on countless students. Debra was known for her high standards, open-door policy, and unwavering dedication to her students’ success. Beyond the classroom, she was an active member of the Lawrence Indian United Methodist Church, contributing as a pianist, treasurer, Bible & Sunday school teacher, and Lay speaker.”

Robert “Robby” Steinhardt: “Robby Steinhardt’s musical journey began in Lawrence, Kansas, after he and his parents, Ilsa and Milton Steinhardt, moved when Robby was just one year old. Robby’s immense talent led him to become the frontman of the iconic band KANSAS. His contributions to music and his resilient spirit inspired many. Robby’s passion for performing persisted even after health challenges, and he continued to share his gift with audiences. His passing in 2021 led to the establishment of the Robert ‘Robby’ Steinhardt Foundation to ensure his legacy lives on.”

“We are truly honored to celebrate the legacies of Debra Ann Green, Robert Steinhardt, and John Hutcherson Spearman Sr. While they are no longer with us, their contributions continue to resonate, and we are privileged to recognize their remarkable achievements,” LLAA President Jessica Larsen said in the release. “We invite all Lawrence High School alumni, students, staff, and the general public to join us in this memorable event as we pay tribute to these outstanding individuals.”

Read more about Spearman and Green in this 2022 article from the Lawrence High School student newspaper, the Budget.

The induction ceremony and reception for this year’s honorees is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 in the Lawrence High School cafeteria. It’s free and open to the public.

The LLAA initiated the Hall of Honor in 1994. LLAA members submit nominations to the organization’s board of trustees, which then selects inductees. See a list of previous inductees at

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