Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Wichita Park and Recreation. All opinions are mine, and I took the photos unless otherwise noted.
A prolific Wichita-based muralist, Byers approached the Wichita Parks Foundation with the idea of the benches. Located in multiple parks across the city, eleven benches enhance the parks and serve as a conversation starter about the city’s historical people.
CHISHOLM CREEK PARK NORTH N. Woodlawn Between K-96 and 37th Street
Background: This particular bench features known for his wildlife photography, Wichitan Bob Gress served as the former director of the Great Plains Nature Center. He is credited with also creating the Wichita Wild urban nature education program within the parks department, and his photos have appeared in over 60 books.
In 2015, Gress said, “If people at least understand what’s going on out there and how important it is, maybe they’ll come to appreciate it and want to protect it and maybe change their own behavior to improve the situation.” (Source: The Wichita Eagle)
Where To Find It: The parking lot to access the park is located west of Woodlawn and North of K-96. Take the far north trail from the west parking lot. The bench is located a short walk from the trail’s entrance.
FAIRMOUNT PARK 1647 N. Yale Blvd.
Background: Located near Wichita State University, the bench features Dan and Frank Carney, who were business students. The brothers founded Pizza Hut in Wichita with a $600 donation from their mom in a tiny brick building located initially at Kellogg and Bluff. The Original Pizza Hut Museum is open for self-guided tours on the WSU campus Monday-Friday.\
In 1958, the budding entrepreneurs grew the company from a humble start-up business to one of the world’s biggest, most well-known restaurant companies. Today, the company’s net worth is worth over $810 billion.
Where To Find It: Walk to the north side of the park near the splash pads and playground equipment.
HARRISON PARK 1300 S. Webb Rd.
Background: The bench showcases Dr. Donna Sweet, Primary Care and Internal Medicine Physician at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. At her clinic, she has an HIV program using federal Ryan White Parts B, C, and D funds and cares for approximately 1,300 patients with HIV.
She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wichita State University in recognition of her 35 years of service to patients with HIV/AIDS and her contributions to health care as a clinical educator. (Source: KU Internal Medicine Wichita.)
Where To Find It: Near the playground equipment and the splash pad
BOSTON PARK 6655 E. Zimmerly St.
Background: William Lear, Sr., Clyde Cessna, Lloyd Stearman, and Walter Beech are the stars of Boston Park’s bench noted for their contributions to the Air Capital of the World Each one founded an aircraft company that helped Wichita become a dominating force in the aviation industry.
Located a short distance from Cessna Aircraft, Colonel James Jabara Airport, and Beechcraft by Textron Aviation, the park is an excellent spot to watch aircraft pass overhead.
Where to Find It: Near playground equipment and the splash pad
EAST CESSNA PARK 6115 E. Mount Vernon Rd.
Background: The McConnell brothers, Fred, Thomas, and Edwin, were born in Wichita and joined the United States Army Air Corps. McConnell Air Force Base, located near East Cessna Park, is named after them to honor their contributions while serving in the military during WWII.
The city was designated an American World War II Heritage City in 2022. Wichita was considered a “boom town” when it produced planes at an exponential rate during this time.
Where To Find It: Near the playground equipment
PLANEVIW PARK 2819 Fees St.
Background: Joyland Amusement Park, Chance Rides, and Ottaway Amusement Company are represented on Planeview Park’s bench because each added to the city’s entertainment factor. Whether manufacturing carnival rides or serving as a hub for fun, Wichitans can thank these companies for their contributions.
Today, Chance Rides is the only one of the three businesses still in operation, producing roller coasters, rides, and park trains.
Where To Find It: Near playground equipment
ALEY PARK 1803 S. Seneca St.
Background: The bench’s visuals were inspired by the Chisholm Trail since Wichita was part of the cattle drive route from Texas through Kansas in the 1860s. Jesse Chisholm, of Scottish-Cherokee ancestry, built trade relationships with the Wichita, Kiowa, Comanche, and Osage native tribes.
He laid out the trail between his trading post at the mouth of the Little Arkansas River to the Indian territory that extended northward to Abilene, Kansas. Cowboys pushed cattle herds through town and across the river near the Douglas Street Bridge.
His buddies, Buffalo Bill Mathewson, James R. Mead, and William Greiffenstein, were fellow civic leaders who helped establish the city of Wichita.
Where To Find It: Near playground equipment within walking distance of a Keeper on Parade, also painted by Byers.
BUFFALO PARK 10201 W. Hartner Ave.
Background: Former Wichita State University basketball player, Dave Stallworth, is highlighted on the bench in honor of his record-setting three seasons on the team. He went on to play for the New York Knicks and the Baltimore/Capital Bullets.
Stallworth learned he was selected by the New York Knicks the same day he was about to play a pickup game on the WSU campus.
Nicknamed “The Rave,” the 6-7 forward averaged 24.3 points in four seasons at WSU and helped lead the team to their first NCAA appearance in 1964.
Where To Find It: Near playground equipment on the west side of the park
WESTLINK PARK 736 N. Caddy Ln.
Background: Westlink Park’s bench honors Wichita-born Robert Gates, who served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1991-1993, secretary of defense for President George W. Bush from 2006-2011, and was retained by President Barack Obama.
The highly decorated leader earned the National Security Medal, the President’s Citizens Medal, National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (twice), and the Distinguished Intelligence Medal (three times).
Where To Find It: Near playground equipment and water fountain
OSAGE PARK 2121 W. 31st St. S.
Background: Wichita-born Jim Lehrer was a respected, award-winning journalist who earned his journalism degree at the University of Missouri.
Lehrer, who started working in newspapers and moved on to broadcast news, earned the distinction of Distinguished Kansan of the Year in 1990 and was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1999.
He worked as a longtime PBS news anchor, moderated over a dozen presidential debates, and authored novels.
Where To Find It: Near playground equipment
EMPORIA PARK 1143 N. Emporia Ave.
Carry A. Nation, a women-led Temperance Movement member, entered The Carey Hotel and began her saloon-wrecking brigade. Her plight on December 27, 1900? To keep people from selling and consuming alcoholic beverages.
Known for carrying a hatchet, she used a rock to destroy a $300 painting, Cleopatra at the Bath, on the wall of the hotel’s bar. Local artist John Noble painted it.
Her tirades continued for years. Eventually, she was jailed many times before dying in Leavenworth, Kansas, on June 9, 1911.
I appreciate that Wichita Park and Recreation, in partnership with Byers, decided to beautify the city’s parks with artistic benches that beautify the surroundings and showcase Wichita’s history makers. Byer’s use of vibrant colors, the Wichita flag, and the city’s abbreviated name, ICT, make them symbolic.
Join the fun! Track them down and tag @OneDelightfuLife and @wichitaparkandrec on Instagram when you post your photos. Use Wichita Park and Recreation’s bench directory to learn more about each.
If you’re interested in learning more things to do and see in Wichita, view my book page, which includes helpful guides to attractions and dining.