All-American year for Pfannenstiel
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
It's been a banner year for Verlin Pfannenstiel.
In the midst of celebrating the 50th anniversary of his business, Heartland Building Center in Hays, the Munjor man was selected as the Wild West Festival's 2012 All-American Citizen.
Pfannenstiel was honored Saturday, first by being escorted down Main Street in a 1966 Pontiac Tempest convertible in that morning's festival parade, then later that evening at an awards ceremony in Municipal Park.
"When (WWF personnel) called and told me, it took a while to absorb it," he said. "You have to be grateful and thankful; it's humbling."
Pfannenstiel was born and raised in Ellis County, growing up with the values of working hard and giving back to his community in whatever way he could.
He grew up on a farm 2 miles east of Munjor, where he still lives, along with an older brother and six sisters, and worked his way up from bookkeeper at the local lumber yard to owner of the business that now includes a truss plant as well as stores in two area towns.
All along the way, Pfannenstiel never forgot his roots, giving generously of his time, talent and treasure.
"That's part of living in a community," he said simply.
Pfannenstiel is an avid supporter of education, both as a business owner and as a resident. He advocated for the start of a vocational technical school in Hays in the 1970s, and that became a reality in the fall of 1974. North Central Kansas Technical College now is a technical college featuring 11 different departments.
"He's one of the people who we can thank today that we have that vo-tech school out there," said Jean Ross, who submitted one of the three All-American nominations for Pfannenstiel.
Ross first met Pfannenstiel when he was a member of the Hays USD 489 Board of Education back in the '70s, and she was in charge of finance for the district.
"As a business person, he used to really question me -- we did a lot of bidding at that time," Ross said of Pfannenstiel. "He wanted to know I had done my homework; he was very thorough. I admired that about him.
"Verlin Pfannenstiel is a man of integrity," Ross added. "He's got a good business sense. He's the kind of quality person you like to see honored as an All-American Citizen."
Now, Ross said she considers him a "very good personal friend."
"Whenever I want someone not connected with the situation where I'm at and I want a good solid opinion from somebody, I'd call and say, 'Verlin can I come see you?' " Ross said.
Pfannenstiel also was instrumental in creating, then keeping alive, the Festival of Faith in Hays.
Not surprisingly, Pfannenstiel deflects credit from himself.
"Awards reflect on the quality of the people around you," he said. "Even my involvement wouldn't be possible but for all the good people around me."
But there's got to be a good leader out in front, too, said Pat Reed, a classmate of Pfannenstiel's at Hays High School.
"Congratulations! It couldn't have happened to a better person," Reed hollered at Pfannenstiel as he walked across a parking lot to get ready for Saturday morning's parade.
Reed was getting ready for the parade herself, riding in the 1928 Dodge car owned and driven by her husband, Jerry Reed.
"He's a very good person," Pat Reed said as she watched Pfannenstiel take his seat in the convertible. "He should be 'Mr. Hays.' "