Archive for Mary Rupert

New book tells story of KCK doctor in World War I

A new book details the experiences of a Kansas doctor in World War I.

by Mary Rupert

The story of a Kansas City, Kansas, doctor in World War I is featured in a new book, “Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary, A Kansas Doctor in World War I France.”

The book about Dr. Hugh Wilkinson is especially timely now, during the centennial of the end of World War I, according to author Joe H. Vaughan.

The book is based on the diary of Dr. Wilkinson, Vaughan said, and it contains his descriptive and sometimes blunt assessments of the war and the people he worked with. Vaughan is Wilkinson’s grandson, and was born about 20 years after the doctor’s death.

Dr. Wilkinson, in his 40s at the time, left Kansas and his family to volunteer for the war effort, and he cared for some of the soldiers most in need at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, according to Vaughan. Later, he was sent to France to command a mobile hospital. He was in France during the flu epidemic of 1918 and a typhoid outbreak.

Dr. Wilkinson, in his diary, described the way medicine was practiced in the days before there was penicillin or air conditioning. He also described the great amount of anguish and loss he observed in the war, known then as the “Great War” and the “War to End All Wars.”

A native of Seneca, Kansas, Dr. Wilkinson returned to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1920, after the war, to practice medicine, with offices in the old Brotherhood Building in the 700 block of Minnesota Avenue, Vaughan said. Wilkinson died in 1934.

Vaughan, a Prairie Village resident who grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, attended Wyandotte High School and the University of Kansas School of Journalism, came across Dr. Wilkinson’s diary one day in an unexpected way.

Vaughan said he started cleaning out his mother’s house after her death in 2006, and found a metal U.S. Army trunk in a storage room. It turned out to be his grandfather’s trunk, and inside was his grandfather’s diary, he said. Vaughan thought it was worth preserving in a book.

“He was either brilliant or an idiot to keep a diary like that,” Vaughan said. It was brilliant because it described World War I in first-person, blunt language, from a doctor’s perspective. At the same time, if Wilkinson had been caught with a diary at the time, he might have been court-martialed, Vaughan added.

Vaughan said some other interesting items he discovered in his grandfather’s trunk were pictures from a stop in the United Kingdom, as well as letters from King George and Gen. John J. Pershing.

Joe Vaughan

In 2012, Vaughan was the author of “Kansas City, Kansas,” a historical book in the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing. Vaughan also is known here for his background in broadcast journalism.

“Col. Wilkinson’s Diary” is published by Mennonite Press and is available at Varsity Sports, 7717 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas, and at the Wyandotte County Museum, 631 N. 126th St., Bonner Springs, Kansas. The book also is available at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas, and at


Local legislators meet about KCK Procter and Gamble plant closing in 2020

The Proctor and Gamble manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will close in 2020, according to an announcement Wednesday.

State legislators from Wyandotte County called a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7, with a national representative of Procter and Gamble after news broke of the Kansas City, Kansas, P&G plant closing in late 2020.

Sen. Pat Pettey, D-6th Dist., called a meeting of the Wyandotte County legislative delegation to discuss the issue. About 280 full-time employees at the plant are affected, as well as an estimated 350 contract workers and suppliers. The dish soap production will move in late 2020 to a new facility at Tabler Station, West Virginia, according to the company’s announcement.

“I was very disappointed to read the announcement,” Sen. Pettey stated. “I do appreciate that they let the employees of P&G be the first to know and that they are giving them a window of over two years to plan.”

The plant has been in Kansas City, Kansas, for about 113 years, according to company officials. Unified Government officials said on Wednesday that they heard about the closing plans for the first time on Tuesday night, and had not been asked about providing options or incentives for staying here.

Company officials said on Wednesday that the decision to close the Kansas City, Kansas, plant was based on a study that was begun in 2013. A P&G spokesman on Wednesday stated that the new production site was being located closer to customers and suppliers.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure the employees are treated fairly and the property is purchased and put back into operation as quickly as possible after P&G leaves,” Sen. Pettey stated. “P&G has been a good community partner; they will be missed.”

Rep. Louis Ruiz, D-31st Dist., said he was concerned about the plant closing, and especially about the protections in place for the employees who work there, involving their rights and severance pay.

He also said he was wondering if sexual harassment issues recently reported at the plant, involving a third-party staffing company at the plant, might have been an underlying factor in why they decided to close the location. Company officials stated Wednesday that the closing decision was based on the logistics and locations concerning the supply chain.

Rep. Ruiz added that he is thankful that the union is in place to protect the employees’ rights during the closing.

A company spokesman on Wednesday stated that it would work with the union and the employees, and if possible, find jobs in other P&G plants for them.

The UG on Wednesday also offered to work with P&G employees to help them find employment in the Kansas City area. The Wyandotte Economic Development Council wants to begin to help market the plant site, and wants to work with Workforce Partnership to identify other employment options, according to Greg Kindle, WEDC president. Kindle stated the job market in the Kansas City area is currently very good. He added that P&G had been a good community partner through the years.

See earlier stories at


Questions and answers with Greg Kindle on the Procter and Gamble plant closing in KCK

The Procter and Gamble manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will close in 2020, according to an announcement today.

Greg Kindle, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, responded to some questions from the Wyandotte Daily today about the closing of the 113-year-old Procter and Gamble plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

The plant is scheduled for closing in late 2020, according to a company announcement today.

Question: UG administration says it didn’t know about P&G proposing to move – did you? I wonder why the UG wasn’t asked to provide an alternative bid or a solution of some kind?
Answer: No one at the local level was engaged in the decision made by Procter & Gamble. This was a surprise announcement to us. Our understanding is that this was a corporate decision based on customer location, distribution centers and proximity of their manufacturing facilities.

Question: The company said there were 280 FT jobs affected, and others are reporting an additional 350 contract workers and suppliers. Are there other companies in this metro area that will be affected, do you think? What do you think is a total dollar estimate of the overall economic effect of a plant closure?
Answer: Procter & Gamble has 280 full time employees with many of them being union positions. They have also had up to 350 contract workers that are not technically Procter & Gamble employees. In time, those workers will be redeployed to other companies in the region. We have inquired about the impact to the local supply chain but don’t yet know the full impact. I don’t have an estimate of the economic impact. Keep in mind that the facility will continue operations under the plan presented into 2020. During that time, we will be coordinating with partners like Workforce Partnership and others to identify other employment options and begin marketing the site/facility for a future use. We have a strong manufacturing presence and the need for skilled employees is in high demand. Over the last several years, we have seen a number of new and expanded manufacturing operations in Wyandotte County so we are optimistic for the future.

Question: Do you think other factors were involved besides the ones stated?
Answer: I am not aware of any other factors being involved in the decision.

Question: What do you think, going forward, that KCK will need to do to rebound from this?
Answer: I think we will rebound well. This is certainly not the news we had hoped for but in the larger Wyandotte County economy, there are over 10,000 manufacturing jobs in the community. At any given time there are over 1,500 open jobs in the manufacturing sector – most with very good wages and benefits. The key is making sure we get access to the employees who are staying in the community and connect them to other great companies. And, we will want to get engaged with their corporate real estate team as soon as we can to begin marketing the site for a future use.

Question: KCK has had some new jobs in recent years at the Amazon plant, and they were supposed to be $13 to $15 an hour. How does that compare to the jobs that are at the P&G plant?
Answer: The jobs at Amazon do pay $13 or more plus benefits. Pay at Procter & Gamble is good but I cannot give you that information due to confidentiality.

Question: Do you think P&G employees will be able to get comparable paying jobs in the community here — how is the labor market now?
Answer: Highly skilled employees like those at Procter & Gamble are sought after on a daily basis. Unemployment is at historic lows throughout the region so we do believe that folks should be well positioned to find new employment. Some employees may also choose to relocate to other Procter & Gamble facilities across the country.

I do think it’s worth noting that while we are sad about the decision made by Procter & Gamble, it’s important to also celebrate the 113 years this company and the many employees who have worked at this plant. We should take great pride in the wonderful products that have been produced here over the years. Procter & Gamble at both the corporate level and the employees have been good to the community over the years and that shouldn’t be overlooked. We will move forward and chart a new path for this site – it’s what we do.

To see an earlier story about the Procter and Gamble closing, visit