Arthur Shufflebarger Passing

Kevin Gray


On a trip to Wichita last Friday with Diane’s parents to spend the day

visiting family, the mother-daughter conversation had covered the

“what’s going on “ norm on the drive from Atchison, but nearing

Nortonville, Diane’s mom asked, “Have you heard? Arthur Shufflebarger

died. He was 60.”


The minute I heard the name Arthur…I knew the Shufflebarger part

would follow. Diane’s eyes grew large and her face so sad about one of

her classmates from Atchison High School. Arthur was class of 1970

and Diane 1971, and they both ran in the same circle of friends.


When Shufflebarger became Osawatomie City Manager in 1985, their

friendship was renewed. We would visit Arthur at his place in

Osawatomie, or he would come to see us in Paola. Visits were spent

playing cards or board games, and I often felt at a disadvantage with

Arthur, especially with Trivial Pursuit.


You see, Diane said then and still insists that Arthur was the

smartest student Atchison High School ever produced.

“He was also the most level-headed guys of the bunch and with a very

good sense of humor,” Diane said.


Back in high school, Diane had been going out with one of Arthur’s

friends. One day, Diane needed to go dress shopping and so the guys

decided to accompany her and add their expertise.

“After trying on two dresses I liked and had come out of the dressing

room, Arthur was still there waiting. The other guy had wondered off.

“One of the dresses was pretty short, so I asked Arthur which dress I

should buy, and he said, ‘Well, not that one,’ meaning the short one

with a ‘don’t do it look’ on his face, and, you know, he was right!”

Diane said.


His first winter in Osawatomie, we had invited Arthur to dinner. The

snow that day had been unusually heavy, so much so we expected him to

call any minute to cancel. He drove up anyway.


Arthur married Kelsey Paulus in a beautiful ceremony at the Atchison

United Methodist Church in 1986, and we enjoyed getting to know

Kelsey. They left his apartment life and bought a house on Main

Street, but when they announced his plans to take the village

manager’s job in Milford, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, in

November 1990, we could understand his desire to pursue new



Nonetheless, we were sorry to see them leave Osawatomie.


Soon after arriving home Friday night about midnight from our Wichita

excursion, I found the Milford Times online. Arthur had died at home

of natural causes.


Milford’s Village Clerk Debbie Frazier both a friend and colleague of

Shufflebarger’s since 1992 according to the Times describes Milford’s


“His passing is a huge loss that will be deeply felt — by the many

professional and civic groups with which he shared his time and

talents, as well as throughout the community where he and his wife,

Kelsey, raised their two daughters.

“He was the best listener in the world. Always listening, and always

fair. He had a lot of friends out there and touched many lives,”

Frazer said in the Times.

Arthur and Kelsey have two daughters. Kayla is a student at Oakland

Community College studying film animation. Ieasha will be attending

Ferris State University in the fall. She received the Huron Valley

Education Association scholarship, and she will pursue elementary


“Arthur was very proud of his girls and was looking forward to their

future successes,” said Kelsey., who with Arthur, had just held a

graduation party for Ieasha on June 9.

Osawatomie’s city clerk, Ann Elmquist, had been hired as

Shufflebarger’s secretary soon after he began his job in January 1985.

‘This was his first city manager position, and he had a tough time at

first,” Elmquist said.

But as Elmquist recalls, Arthur never got mad, even when he should

have, and always attended League of Kansas Municipalities meetings and

a variety of meetings to keep up to date.

“You don’t realize how good he was until he was gone and living in

Milford. Just think, he must have really cut his teeth here in

Osawatomie to have been able to remain in the same city for 22 years,”

Elmquist said.

In a Times editorial, a look at the village manager came through, as

well as a glimpse of the Arthur we knew and Diane remembered in high


“Quiet and unassuming, Shufflebarger has always been a calming

influence during council meetings. Regardless the topic, or if

emotions started to flare up, it was rare when the village manager

reacted in similar manner.

“Instead, he typically sat back as discussions progressed, and he

would share his thoughts to wrap up the debate, adding a new insight

or summarizing the feelings expressed by the others in the room,” the

Times said.

Both of us – Diane and me – have not been able to connect with Arthur

and Kelsey since they left Osawatomie. Diane’s mom, through the years,

has mentioned Arthur sightings in Atchison. And, we always look

forward to their Christmas letter, especially if pictures of the girls

are enclosed.


Condolences can be left online at http://lynchfuneraldirectors.com .

Short URL: http://osawatominews.com/?p=1671

Posted by admin on Jun 25 2012. Filed under Kevin Gray, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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