As we gather on Monday to celebrate the 13th class of the Salina Business Hall of Fame, it seems only fitting that we have three inductees that have helped shape the future of Salina.

The first inductee died 113 years ago but his influence on Salina is still very visible. A community in Kansas is actually named after him. The second inductee came from a very humble background, raised by a single parent who inspired him to accomplish great things not only personally but also for his community. He made a lasting mark in real estate over a 50-year career and helped create the quality of life that we enjoy today. The third inductee was born in Salina, moved away at a young age, then returned to help develop the largest economic engine in Saline County. He would be the first to tell you that there were many who helped make this a reality, but he was the constant leader the last 30 years, there for the many challenges and opportunities.  

Our first inductee, Arthur M. Claflin, was born 181 years ago and died in 1904. His life was filled with generosity and part of his fabric is firmly entranced throughout our town’s history. He settled into Salina in 1870 and became a “dealer in groceries." He was an agent for the land companies building new rail lines through central Kansas and served as a bank vice president. He was part of a group of citizens that established Kansas Wesleyan University and a year later St. John’s Military School. Combined those two schools have been in Salina for more than 260 years and have educated thousands of students from around the world. Later in his career he was vice president of a plaster company that at the time was the largest manufacturing business in central Kansas. Mr. Claflin was also part of a group of eight people that established a town where his sister and brother-in-law lived. The town became known as Claflin.

The second inductee, Dan Bolen, was born in 1902. He was raised by a single mom. Sadly, Dan’s father died four months before he was born in Chapman. His mother moved them to Salina, where she ran a boarding house by the train depot, with Dan sweeping floors. As he got older Dan developed tremendous baseball skills that he used to attend Kansas Wesleyan University. He ultimately played baseball for the University of Kansas. In 1925 Dan opened the Bolen-Wood Real Estate and Insurance Agency with his brother-in-law Leonard Wood. He spent the next 50 years developing Country Club Heights, Sunset Manor, Sunset Plaza Shopping Center, the Soil Conservation Building. It’s estimated that Dan and his companies helped develop more than 800 homes in Salina. He was not only recognized for his business and civic activities in Salina, but also at the state and national level. Dan was very involved in diversifying the former Schilling Air Force Base in the 1960s and served on numerous boards.

The third inductee is Tim Rogers. Ironically Tim’s career was tied to the efforts of Dan Bolen and others who didn’t see a white elephant with Schilling Air Force Base closing, but rather an opportunity that could change Salina forever. Tim was born in Salina in 1954 and lived here his first seven years before his family moved to Hutchinson.  His passion for aviation started in high school, when he worked at the Hutchinson Airport and took flying lessons.  After graduating from the University of Kansas, Tim had jobs at two different Colorado airports. In 1985, he became just the second executive director of the Salina Airport Authority. During his tenure, we have seen economic growth at the area managed by the airport authority, with more than 100 businesses. Those businesses employ about 6,500 people and have an economic impact on an annual basis of more than $1.5 billion.

The three will be honored at a luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Salina Country Club, with retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers as speaker. Myers was the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005, serving President George W. Bush. He currently is president of Kansas State University.  

It’s easy to be influenced by all of the negative issues in the world. These leaders helped teach us that no matter what the odds, there are silver linings in everything and we must focus on them in order to move forward. Monday's event underscores the importance of staying positive and focused and when a community does, many great things can happen, no matter the circumstances.  

I hope you can join us for the celebration of these three extraordinary leaders.  

— Larry Britegam is executive vice president of Rose Hill Bank in Salina.