McCracken featured in We Kan! Awards

Kansas Sampler Press Release
Marci Penner, left, and WenDee Rowe, right, of the Kansas Sampler Foundation are pictured with Shirlely Higgins, center.

Shirley Higgins, 86, was presented with a We Kan! Award on October 12 at the City Jail Museum in McCracken. Family and friends were in attendance for the surprise ceremony.

The presentation was made by Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.

The Inman-based non-profit has been choosing ten recipients a year since 1993 to show appreciation for dedicated work in helping preserve and sustain rural culture.

Higgins’ award had the words “You are my touchstone” engraved on a round plate made by Elk Falls Pottery. Foundation director Penner said, “Shirley exudes love for her hometown and she has always shared her hometown pride or concern with me in a way that touches me deeply. She doesn’t know it but her words, her volunteerism, and her love for her town motivates me to do our work. This was the most personal award we’ve ever given.”

On October 9, the Kansas Sampler Foundation presented a We Kan! Award to McCracken native Tim Rues, 62. Tim is the curator at Constitution Hall in Lecompton. The name of his award was “More than a curator.” The ceremony took place on a porch of the state historic site as friends, families, and dignitaries gathered below in the street.

Penner said, “Tim has been the curator since this state historic site opened in 1995. He greets, he provides interpretation, he educates visitors and students, he performs as a re-enactor, he mows the lawn, and cleans the gutters. He gives this important structure and all that happened here his all and we’re a better state because of his dedication.”

In addition to Higgins and Rues, the other 2020 award presented to date has been to Heather Fuesz of Eureka.

To see a list of all We Kan! award winners go to