In Memoriam

Lora Topinka

Lora Topinka
1942 - 2015

Lora Topinka was one of the founding members of the Sumner County Genealogical Society formed in Sumner County, Kansas in 1998.  Lora was elected treasurer in 1998 and served in that capacity for many years until health issues forced her to stop.

Lora was one of the volunteers who walked cemeteries and transcribed thousands of tombstones so others could find their ancestors more easily. 

She and another volunteer walked the Prairie Lawn Cemetery in Wellington, logging approximately 10,000 burials.

Lora also volunteered in the Research Center each week, helping researchers, and preserving obituaries and other research materials.  
Read Lora's obituary here





Elaine Clark
1942 - 2014

Elaine Evans Clark was a dedicated SCHGS volunteer for many years.  She implemented many creative ideas for promoting the society. She organized contests for youth and adults, bringing in more new members and new information.

She and her husband Larry were instrumental in bringing the Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies Conference to Sumner County, and they invited Internationally known speaker Maureen Taylor to speak. 

Elaine could be counted on for sharing her expertise in Memoir writing with members, and she often presented interesting and informational programs.

She also assisted her husband Larry when he served as President for the society, and they often hosted board meetings in their home. 

In 2002 & 2003, with the help of her husband and co-author Sherry Kline, Elaine interviewed Mayfield area residents and collected photographs and information and wrote "Mayfield: Then and Now."

In 2012 the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society received a notebook containing letters written in the 1870's.  The letters had been placed in sheet protectors. Elaine read the letters and researched the author and her family, and learned that they were early Sumner County homesteader's.

Believing this to be a valuable resource of early Sumner County history, Elaine wrote a Kansas Humanities Council grant and spent many countless hours transcribing the barely legible letters and sharing the information with SCHGS members and visitors in programs.

Read Elaine's obituary here



Norman Corn
1920 - 2012

 Norman was in the 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles" Division 377th Parachute Field Artillary Battalion where he was a Corporal, entering service on August 20th, 1941, and being discharged on October 27th, 1945. 

Norman was in many of the most dangerous battles of World War II.  He was interviewed by reporter for several different newspapers, and he spoke of his World War II experiences to schools and to the Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society. 

Norman was also proud of his Native American heritage, ad he shared that history with schools and with the SCHGS group as well.

You can read Norman's obituary here


Lawrence Norris
1915 - 2013

Lawrence served as President of the SCHGS for many years. He was an excellent president and he worked as a volunteer in the research center, using his time and expertise to help preserve and share Sumner County history with those who came into the SCHGS Research center and everyone who attended the meetings.  


You can read: Lawrence Norris obituary


Melvin Shafer


Melvin Shafer, shown above demonstrating the art of "grave-witching" for KAKE-TV's award-winning photojournalist Larry Hatteberg.  

Melvin was a very active volunteer in the society. He spent countless hours in front of a microfilm reader gathering information about Sumner County's early years for the popular book 'The Scoop" which has been a best-seller still today for the society. 

He and his wife Della spent hours researching and recording information about the Wellington Pioneer Cemetery, and Melvin used his "grave-witching" expertise to locate many unmarked graves, and Melvin shared his expertise with area cemetery sexton's and many use the "grave-witching" tecnique to locate unmarked graved in their cemeteries.

Outgoing, friendly, and knowledgeable, Melvin greeted visitors to the county and shared a wealth of county information with researchers to the SCHGS Research Center.

You can find Melvin's obituary and photos on his Find A Grave memorial here





Norman Kline

1947 - 2006

Norman enjoyed hearing Sumner County history, and sharing it with others.  In 2001 and 2002, he walked the Osborne Cemetery at Mayfield, Kansas with wife Sherry so the information about the burials could be included in the book, "Mayfield: Then & Now".  

When Melvin and Della Shafer, Haysville, Kansas members were trying to determine how many burials there were in the Pioneer Cemetery in Wellington, Norman contacted a "grave witcher" that he had watched on the KPTS show, "Sunflower Journey's" to come teach the SCHGS members how to 
grave witch the cemetery.  

Several members came and tried their hand, as did Prairie Lawn cemetery workers, and the day was interesting, and the group learned that the cemetery was full of unmarked graves. 



You can read Norman's obituary here




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