Chase follows roots to ultimately land in Iola



September 2, 2014 - 12:00 AM

History often has intertwining elements, Richard Chase told Iola Rotarians on Thursday.
Chase gave a brief history of his life and noted that while he didn’t arrive in Iola as an assistant superintendent of USD 257 schools until 1981, he visited here often as a youngster in the 1930s and 1940s.
Chase was born and raised in Independence, where he excelled in football, basketball and tennis for Independence High and then the town’s junior college. He then earned degrees in education from Ottawa University and Kansas State. That eventually led to his role in education here.
Chase’s first introduction to Iola came in his early years, coming here to visit his grandparents. His grandfather was a janitor at Iola Junior High, which gave Chase his first look at Iola schools.
Fact is, Chase said, his father and grandfather worked in local smelters and his father later at Lehigh Cement Co. His father also was with the local National Guard cavalry unit, which participated in the Mexican border wars under command of Gen. Fred Funston.
“Dad later was in World War I,” and served in Europe, Chase recalled.
His career in education began as a math and science teacher and coach at Junction City. He had his first taste of administration at Independence, where he spent 19 years. A five-year stint at Arkansas City, where he first joined Rotary in 1976, preceded 17 years on the local district’s administrative team.
One of his first initiatives in Iola was to join Rotary in 1985. During a trip to the Rotary International convention in Kansas City, he heard Dr. Jonas Salk propose an effort to eradicate polio throughout the world.
Back in Iola, Chase was instrumental in Iola Rotarians raising enough money to vaccinate all children in Belize against the highly infectious virus.
Drawing on childhood experiences, Chase told about going downtown in Iola on Saturday nights with this grandparents, an event which most folks within driving distance did for grocery and other shopping.
“Granddad would let grandma out to shop for groceries and we’d get out of the car and talk to about everyone who came by,” Chase reminisced, declaring it a social event that unfortunately is missing in today’s fast-paced environment.
Chase also told about his interview for the assistant administrator’s position in Iola.
Don Bain, then superintendent, conducted the interview and much of it was spent revisiting their years in high school, when Bain was a star basketball player for Iola and Chase had a similar role at Independence High.
“We guarded each other,” Chase quipped. “Finally, along about 5 o’clock that afternoon, we decided to talk about the job,” which he got.

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