Polly Roth Bales (Pauline Elsie Roth), 92, of Lawrence, passed to a better life on June 28, 2013 at home. She was born to the late John P. and Anna (Rutschman) Roth on June 30, 1920 in Whitewater, Ks where she was reared on the family farm. The lessons of humble servitude she learned from her parents’ example colored her outlook on life and set the standard for her life of service to others. She embodied the belief that “to whom much is given, much is required” and was always happiest when being useful and helping others.
In 1938, she entered the University of Kansas, where she studied organ. There she met the love of her life, Dane G. Bales, whom she married on Nov. 29, 1941. After his return from WWII, they relocated to Logan, KS, where Dane worked with his uncle, Dane G. Hansen, an area businessman and philanthropist, and where their son, Dane G. Bales Jr., was born. There Polly established an impressive record of service to various causes. Because of her caring nature, she was deeply involved in community activities, women’s groups, and church, and also numerous activities with the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Museum, the University of Kansas, and the Republican Party. In recognition of her community activities she was recommended by city leaders for, and was included in, the “Outstanding Civic Leaders of America”. She served as an officer and board member for the Kansas State Historical Society, P.E.O., the Phillips County Hospital Guild, Logan Community Concerts, the Wesley Foundation, the President’s Advisory Committee at Bethany College, the Huck Boyd Foundation, KOOD-TV, and the Travel Industry Association of Kansas. Polly also served as president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, who twice named her “Woman of the Year,” the Logan Library Board, the Phillips County American Red Cross, the Native Daughters of Kansas, and the Sunflower Knife and Fork Club.
Polly worked tirelessly developing and promoting the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Museum in Logan, serving as the first museum board president from 1972 until her resignation in July, 2004. Amongst her many contributions to the museum, she brought a great number of Smithsonian Museum traveling exhibits to this “Smithsonian of the Plains”, more than have gone to any other museum in the USA, culturally enriching the lives of those in her community and beyond.
Music was an important part of Polly’s life. She began piano lessons at 5 yrs. old (she always said her folks decided to have her take lessons out of self-defense) and enjoyed playing both piano and organ all her life, anywhere she was asked or found a piano. Polly served her church as organist for 45 years. She played piano at the Kansas Day and Native Sons and Daughters festivities for 40 years, and received their Distinguished Service Citation in 2008. She organized spontaneous sing-alongs on many of the Flying Jayhawk trips which she and Dane enjoyed so much, including on the former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s boat traveling Russia’s Volga River.
Polly studied organ at KU. At that time the organ used for lessons sat on the floor of Hoch Auditorium, and she and the KU basketball team practiced at the same time. She became acutely aware of KU’s need for an adequate organ facility! She and Dane, with help from the Hansen Foundation, funded the Dane and Polly Bales Organ Recital Hall at KU, which opened its doors in 1996 and has since become a world- renowned venue for both teaching and listening to organ music. They endowed scholarships to attract exceptional organ students, and endowed the Dane and Polly Bales Organ Professorship, held since its inception by Dr. James Higdon, who is responsible not only for selecting the exceptional Wolff organ but also for the unique made-to-order building which houses it. Polly endowed the Bales Visiting Artists Series which attracts the highest level of worldwide artists, for public performances and also for masters’ classes for KU organ students.
Polly was recognized on numerous occasions for her outstanding support of Kansas higher education. Accolades bestowed upon her include the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Fred Ellsworth Medallion for unique and significant service to the University, the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Award, the Fort Hays State University’s Distinguished Service Award, induction into KU’s Gallery of Outstanding Kansans and into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the University of Kansas Fine Arts Distinguished Service Award, was named Chancellor’s Associate for Devoted Service to KU, was a member of the Fine Arts Advisory Board, and also Life Trustee of the KU Endowment Board of Trustees. At KU, Polly was a member of the Chancellor’s Club, the KU Development Committee, the Williams Fund, the KU Alumni Association, the Elizabeth Watkins society, the Fine Arts Deans Club, and the Historic Mount Oread Fund. Polly loved and promoted her beloved Kansas and KU wherever she went.
Polly was active in the Republican Party, serving or holding office on the Republican State Executive Committee, the Phillip’s County Republican Women’s Club, Big First Republicans, and the Kansas Day Club. She was twice a delegate and once an alternate to national Republican conventions. Polly was a member of the [Bob] Dole for President Exploratory Committee, and also was Regional Co-Chair of Dole for President. The pond in front of the Dole Institute at KU is named after the Bales, but is fondly referred to as Polly’s Pond.
Polly’s husband Dane Bales, Sr. passed away in 2001, and their son, Dane Bales, Jr. passed away in 1998. She moved to Lawrence in 2007 and greatly enjoyed performances at “The Bales”, as well as performances at the KU School of Music, Rock Chalk Revue, football and basketball games, and other University activities with her nieces Suzanne Lara and Sally Company.
She is survived by her sister, Mrs. Ruth Voth, of Buhler KS; twelve nieces and nephews: James Voth (Barbara) of Buhler; Suzanne Lara of Lawrence; Sally Company of Lawrence; Mark Voth (Rebecca) of Edmond, OK; Judy (Don) Schellenberg of Dallas, OR; John Roth of Telluride, CO; Dale Roth of Reno, NV; David Roth of Dallas, OR; Debra (Monty) Fouts of Denver, CO; Don Mauck (Archie) of Benton, KS; Paul Mauck (Diane) of Calera, OK; and Ron Mauck (Ginger) of Benton, KS.; numerous cousins and great- and great-great-nieces and nephews; and daughter-in-law Carol Bales of Logan.
Private burial at the Logan Cemetery will be followed by funeral services on Saturday July 6, 2013 at 2 p.m. in the United Methodist Church, 303 W. Church St. in Logan, KS. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be given to KU Endowment for Bales Organ Recital Hall or to the Dane G. Hansen Memorial Museum. Memorials may be sent in care of the Logan Funeral Home.
Logan Funeral Home, P. O. Box 217, Logan, Kansas 67646, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be left at www.olliffboeve.com.