The former employees of the Winfield State Hospital and Training Center will meet for the ninth consecutive year on Saturday.
All alumni or surviving relatives of the former state hospital are invited to attend from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kansas Buffet Company, formerly Sirloin Stockade, 2825 N. Summit in Ark City.
Reunion founders Sharon Frazer and Delores Whiteman are hosting the event. The reunion is open to anyone who was ever employed at the state hospital or their surviving relatives, as well as interested members of the public.
There is no charge for attending the reunion and reservations are not necessary. Attendees will have the option to eat at the Kansas Buffet Company’s all-you-can-eat buffet at their own expense. A senior discount is available.
In 2008, Frazer and Whiteman, both long-time employees at the state hospital, came up with the idea to host a reunion as a chance to catch up with their former co-workers, reminisce about their days as employees at the facility, and to collect memories and mementos of the hospital.
Many of the items they have collected to date will be on display at the event, and attendees are encouraged to bring photographs, class pictures and programs, and other memorabilia to share. Reunion organizers would like to have originals or copies of items not already in their collection, with a long-term goal of donating the collection of items to the Cowley County Historical Museum for archiving and research.
The Winfield State Hospital and Training Center was established in the community in 1888 under the name Kansas State Imbecile Asylum, located just outside the city limits. Eventually, the facility grew to house as many as 1,495 patients at its peak in 1952. When the closure of the facility was announced in 1998, the patient population had declined to only 250 residents.
The state hospital was a major employer in Cowley County for the majority of its days. The wages the Hospital offered were said to be better than many other jobs available in the area and offered education and advancement opportunities for many who worked there. Those incentives drew workers from not only Cowley County but also as far away as Wichita, Newkirk, and Ponca City, Okla.
Presently, the former site of the state hospital is occupied by a prison run by Kansas Department of Corrections and a Kansas Veterans’ Home.
For further information, please contact Delores Whiteman at 620-221-4898 or Sharon Frazer at 620-221-2917.