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The Legacy of Haven Native Harland Priddle

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By Lucky Kidd

 

RENO COUNTY, Kan. — Harland Priddle was very involved in many local economic development activities in Reno County and beyond. This story is derived from his obituary (which is on the Wiggins Funeral Homes site) and comments made on his passing during this week’s Reno County Commission meeting. 

 Harland Priddle, a Haven area native who during his 93 years was involved in many things on a local and worldwide level, died Tuesday in McAlester, Oklahoma where he was residing.

After graduation from Haven High School and Kansas State University Priddle enlisted in the US Air Force, where he would serve 22 years, receiving 19 awards and decorations before retiring in 1974 at the Rank of Captain according to his obituary from Ott Funeral Home in Haven.

In addition to service in Korea and Vietnam he spent nine years in Washington D.C. including tours with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, as Deputy Commander of the White House Communications Agency.. He participated in the planning and execution of over two hundred presidential trips, including three international trips to Europe and Asia.

After retirement, he returned to Kansas where he served as the Assistant Manager of the Kansas State Fair and Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations for Hutchinson National Bank from 1978 to 1982. He served as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture in 1982-1986, and in 1987, he was selected by Governor Mike Hayden as the first Kansas Secretary of Commerce. He was twice a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

After concluding his public service, he formed Priddle and Associates, an economic development consulting firm and served as the Executive Director for several organizations including the Kansas Wildscape Foundation and the K-96 Corridor Development Association along with leadership roles in various companies.

Reno County Commissioner Ron Hirst, who worked with Priddle in the formation of the K-96 Corridor Association, said of him, “He could see things others could not see with the possibilities.”

Priddle’s community involvement included serving as President of the Haven Chamber of Commerce in 2003 and Executive Vice President from 2004-2009, as an advisory Board member of the First National Bank, Haven branch, Director of the Kansas International Trade Coordinating Council and Board member of the Kansas World Trade Center.

Harland was awarded the Kansas World Trade Center’s “Peace Through World Trade Award” in June 2005. In June 2015, Harland was awarded the Kansas Silver Stirrup from the Kansas Department of Commerce Team Kansas, an award given to an individual who has made significant economic development accomplishments for the State of Kansas in creating jobs and wealth in the state.

Haven honored Priddle’s service by naming a street for him, and the Kansas Department of Commerce in September of this year renamed their main conference room in his honor.

He was a dedicated supporter of his original family church, Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, a church his grandfather, Vincent Priddle, served as Trustee for in 1891. He loved his high school and served as President of the Haven High School Alumni Association, an organization he started, with the help of others in 2005.

Beyond his public service and other leadership positions, he considered the true treasures of his life his wife of over 75 years Winifred, his three children, 11 grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren.

Hutchinson Reno County Chamber of Commerce President Debra Teufel described Priddle as a “visionary that cared deeply about Reno County, and served as a mentor to many of us.” Priddle during a visit to Reno County in March said he was looking forward to seeing the development of the new K-96 Industrial Park, and had hoped to be present when ground was broken on the project.

In 2020 Harland completed his book entitled “On The Sidelines of History” in 2020 in order to pass on life lessons he learned on his journey from the farm house to the White House and back.

Governor Laura Kelly called Priddle a true Kansas legend. “He embodied what it meant to be a public servant, and his contributions will continue to live on for future generations,” the Governor said in a statement Saturday extending condolences to his family and friends.

Funeral Services for Harland Priddle will be held Thursday, December 21st at 10 AM at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church on Longview Road north of Haven with a visitation preceding from 9-10 AM.