By JUDY SHERARD
The dedication of Hammond Hall and the Dole Sisters Lobby in honor of Norma Jean Steele and Gloria Nelson, former Sen. Bob Dole's sisters, on the Fort Hays State University campus Saturday morning was a time for reminiscing.
"I'm glad to be in the suburb of Russell," Dole said with a chuckle.
He recognized his fellow World War II veterans in the audience, but the day was about his "dear sisters," he said.
"It is so wonderful and so fitting that a man that has given so much would think of others before self and would want to have this lobby of this incredible building named not after him who has exemplified all that is good and great in this country, but after his sisters by passing it forward," FHSU President Mirta Martin said.
"This is what true leadership is about," Martin said.
"We all grew up with parents who taught us the values we have in this room about hard work and integrity and honesty, and they made certain that we were kept busy even when we were growing up," Dole said of his siblings. "One night Gloria and Norma Jean would do the dishes. The next night (brother) Kenny and I would do the dishes. We started working pretty early."
Dole introduced Gloria's four children in attendance, Larry Nelson, Russell, Jeff Nelson, Salina, Linda Belau, Denver and Susan Silz, Ft. Morgan, Colo.
"Norma Jean was sort of the spark plug in the family," Dole said. "She kept things rolling and made great cookies. Gloria made great cookies too. They were both great cooks."
Dole said it's an honor for them to be remembered.
He also introduced his wife, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who accompanied him to the dedication and then rode with him in the Homecoming Parade afterwards.
Many who attended also had a story about the political icon.
Don Bickle said he was chairman of the Ellis County Republican party the first time Dole ran for Congress. Bickle, then Ellis County vice-chairwoman Mary Larsen and Dole all appeared on television together.
"He's a first class pea-picker," Bickle said of Dole.
The occasion also afforded an opportunity to recognize former FHSU President Edward Hammond for whom the building is named.
"The students were always his first priority," Martin said of Hammond.
Hammond "guaranteed a quality education to so many who may not have received one," said Arin Powers, FHSU student government association president.
"This beautiful building contains the DNA of the vision that I brought to Fort Hays some 27 years ago, -- 28 years ago in March," Hammond said.
The two dedication ceremonies were held in conjunction with FHSU homecoming festivities.