Gaye Tillotson is a long-serving Ward Parkway Homes Association Board member and treasurer. Here’s what she has to say about her 40 years in the neighborhood:
“My husband, Terry, and I have lived on West 72nd Street since October of 1979. We fell in love with the neighborhood and the house and enjoyed raising our son in this family-oriented area. I didn’t work until he was two and then only at night so I was home with him during the day. There were lots of mothers at home on the block, so regardless of where he landed, someone was always watching. My son never lacked for a playmate and his Dad spent lots of time playing catch with all the neighborhood kids. Our neighbors were our friends.
Our home was built by Napoleon Dible (around 1940), as were lots of homes in this area. We have done all the usual projects involving “upkeep” and “improvements” externally and internally. When we moved in, we were the youngsters on the block, and now we are the oldsters. We love our home and still love the neighborhood.
My husband is now retired from the federal government and I am still working but only part time. Terry spends his time in the yard, doing projects around the house or playing golf. I love to read, paint and do handwork. We both love to watch our Royals!”
Alex Gill has lived on Jefferson Street for the last five years and serves on the WPHA Membership Committee. Here’s how he answered our resident profile questions:
Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? My wife and I were living in an apartment on the Plaza and wanted to start a family. We knew we wanted to stay within KCMO city limits, and this area of town just spoke to us!
Do any family members or pets live with you? My wife, Caroline, our 18-month-old daughter, Lily, and our dog, Trudy.
Occupation (past or present)? Both Caroline and I work at Children’s Mercy (Hospital Hill) and love it!
How do you like to spend your free time? We truly enjoy staying local….like taking Lily and Trudy on neighborhood walks and taking part in local experiences like long lines at Betty Rae’s on nice summer evenings!
What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? The previous owner of our home worked for NASA, which I think has to be pretty rare!
What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Betty Rae’s! Both Caroline and I went to Mizzou, and the owner of Betty Rae’s used to work for Sparky’s Ice Cream Shop in Columbia! So, naturally, I feel a connection. Caroline jokes with our friends that I single-handedly made sure that Betty Rae’s made it through the first month by going every single night!
What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? F3 Fitness (75th Street across from CVS). Andre is the owner/operator and is tough, but fair. He provides a quality service at a fair price. If you’re thinking about improving your personal fitness then I recommend you go talk to him.
Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? We love the neighborhood! If I could change one thing it would be the level of involvement. I would love to see more people in the neighborhood involved in the association!
Guest post by WPHA resident Sara Wiercinski
My husband and I bought our first home in 2011: a mint-green Colonial at the corner of 74th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, across the street from Hale Cook, a mothballed public elementary school. At the time I was pregnant with my son Luke. Though kindergarten seemed like a long time away, I became curious about the school, seeing as how we were now neighbors.
While walking my dogs by Hale Cook one Saturday, I met a group of people hosting a neighborhood yard sale — mostly donated items — to create buzz around campus. These friendly people in red T-shirts called themselves the Friends of Hale Cook. I learned about their efforts to generate neighborhood support for reopening the public school. The school district had not sold the school, only closed it for a while.
I was relatively new to Kansas City, and saw an opportunity to join these group of dedicated parents (and soon-to-be parents) to promote our dream for the neighborhood.
Soon after, Friends of Hale Cook formed as an official nonprofit organization with a board of directors. We conducted town halls, canvassing sessions, meetings with the school district, fundraisers, clean-up days, parade floats and even a feasibility study, commissioned by then-superintendent Stephen Green to prove community support for reopening the school. It was a lot of work for the six board directors, our families and a few regular volunteers. I have to admit that at times I doubted whether our efforts would go anywhere. The district had many other priorities. Also, there was much confusion around school choice and terminology (charters, magnets, private, signature schools).
Yet the hard work and persistence paid off. In 2013, the school district approved the reopening of Hale Cook Elementary. That first year, Hale Cook resided within a few classrooms inside Hartman Elementary; the following year our school building reopened to welcome kindergarten through second grade.
Julie Lynch, who served as transition coordinator while Hale Cook was off-site at Hartman Elementary, was named principal. Since then, Julie has been instrumental in developing a successful school with top-notch staff and a community spirit.
My son Luke entered kindergarten at Hale Cook in Fall 2017. I never considered sending him to any other school. Though I had been involved with the school’s reopening, joining the school as a parent was a new experience. My son has enjoyed two wonderful school years, and this month he returns as a second grader. My daughter Hazel will enter kindergarten at Hale Cook in fall 2020.
A few reasons why my family loves Hale Cook:
Eight years ago, I would have been unable to dream up what a gift Hale Cook Elementary has become to my family. I now hear of families who want to move into our neighborhood so their children can attend and walk to Hale Cook. As neighbors, we all have a stake in the success of Hale Cook and the school district as a whole, even those of us to don’t have children or whose children attend other schools. Shouldn’t Kansas City’s recent development boom elevate public education for all urban kids?
If you’re interested in learning more about my family’s experience at Hale Cook, email me at email@example.com. If you want to volunteer at Hale Cook, please contact the school. We would be happy to have you.
Julie Wittman originally started volunteering for the Ward Parkway Homes Association as a way to meet people and contribute to a great neighborhood. Today, she serves as co-chair of the WPHA Communications Committee and is a former Board member. (If you’d like to join the Communications Committee, she’d love to put your ideas and skills to use!)
Here’s how Julie answered our resident profile questions:
How long have you lived in the Ward Parkway Homes Association? Since 2011
Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? I’ve lived along the South Plaza/Brookside/Waldo corridor for more than 15 years, and this part of KCMO just can’t be beat. I love that I can access the Trolley Track Trail and public transit so close to home, and that I can walk to my eye doctor, dentist, gym, hair salon, ice cream, library, and other local restaurants and services in a matter of minutes.
Do any family members or pets live with you? My husband, Andy.
Occupation (past or present)? I am part of the communications/marketing team for the City of Lenexa. Lots of public service experience so far in my career.
How do you like to spend your free time? Crochet, cooking and eating, reading, podcast listening, learning new things, gardening, long walks and talks, sipping a sazerac.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I’m probably the only renter in the neighborhood who has served on the WPHA Board. (Renters matter too!) Also, I formed the first women’s lacrosse umpire board in the Kansas City metro in the early 2000s. Refereeing lacrosse across the Midwest as a decade-long side hustle helped me pay off student loans.
What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? I was curious about what building-related permits the City of Kansas City had on file for our house, and the only one they could come up with was a sparsely-detailed permit to build the darn thing in 1922 for a whopping $5,000.
What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? My mind was blown by some of the astonishing “secret garden” backyards of houses in our neighborhood that I visited during WPHA Garden Tours in past years. People are so passionate and creative! I’d love to see this event be revived someday.
What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Betty Rae’s, which is dangerously close to my house. And Bier Station, for the innovative concept and community spirit it introduced to the area.
After 26 years, Maureen Hardy knows a thing or two about living in the Ward Parkway Homes Association. A longtime WPHA Board member, she’s a great advocate for our neighborhood at City Hall.
What street do you live on? Pennsylvania Avenue
Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? Chose this neighborhood because it is a great community. beautiful homes and close to businesses.
Do any family members or pets live with you? Husband Gene
Occupation (past or present)? Retired, worked for Mayor Kay Barnes for 10 years.
How do you like to spend your free time? Reading, exercising, watching Kansas City Royals.
What is at the top of your bucket list? Don’t really have one, but would like to visit all the states I haven’t seen yet.
What is something most people don’t know about you? Love to sit on porch and enjoy the neighborhood and have it filled with neighbors that stop by and socialize.
What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? Built in 1923, great old beautiful house with lots of original, beautiful woodwork.
What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? After we moved in, so many neighbors came and introduced themselves and offered us help. We went to July 4th picnic and met lots of folks and had a great time, and the rest is history.
What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Waldo Pizza, and most of the businesses we’ve used are great and friendly.
What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? Being a part and joining the WPHA and signing up to volunteer and help out with some of our fun activities and meet more of your neighbors. Dues are very reasonable.
Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? Have more four-way stop signs around the school especially, and enforce the speed limit around our house, which is right next to the school.
Meet Mike Allmon, the current Ward Parkway Homes Association secretary, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. He started in landscaping when he was 14 years old as an assistant with his father’s tree care business. Today, he makes sure the public green spaces in the WPHA are well maintained. Thanks, Mike!
What street do you live on? Belleview Ave.
Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? Grew up close, great neighbors and history.
Do any family members or pets live with you? Wife Debby, kids Mary and Robert, and dog Max.
Occupation (past or present)? I own Complete Turf and Landscape, full service landscaping company serving residential and commercial properties in the Kansas City area.
How do you like to spend your free time? Getting outside, playing music and traveling.
What is at the top of your bucket list? Traveling to Europe.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I grew up at 76th and Ward Parkway.
What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? It was built in 1934. The owner lived in the three-car garage (complete with a fireplace) while the main house was being built.
What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? Playing in the abandoned train cars from the old Victoria’s Station restaurant where Burger King is now, at Gregory and Wornall.
What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Waldo Pizza.
What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? Waldo Grain, cool old building.
Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? More bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
Hey neighbors! The Ward Parkway Homes Association Membership Committee is kicking off a series of happy hour hangouts at local bars to give neighbors like you another reason to get to know each other. Join us for a drink and chat during our Thirsty Thursday events.
We’ll provide some pitchers of free beer to share, or you can purchase your favorite drink at the bar. Stop by to meet some WPHA Board members and volunteers, as well as other residents in our neighborhood. Ask us all your burning questions about the homes association. We’d love to quench your thirst for answers.
You do not need to be a dues-paying member of the WPHA to participate. Look for our group towards the back of the bar.
Thursday, May 2, 2019, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Bobby Baker’s Lounge (7418 Wornall Rd.)
Thursday, June 6, 2019, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Dodson’s Bar and Commons (7438 Wornall Rd.)
Thursday, July 11, 2019, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Bobby Baker’s Lounge
Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Dodson’s Bar and Commons
See you soon!
🍻 Cheers 🍻
Meet Richard Murray — recently elected to the WPHA Board of Directors — who lives on Mercier Street. Murray is spearheading a new Membership Committee and has lots of great ideas to energize the neighborhood.
How long have you lived in the neighborhood? Two-and-a-half years. My partner and I moved here from the Silicon Valley in California for a job to which I was recruited. We have lived in the south (Louisville, KY) and the Midwest (Chicago, IL) in the past and are so excited to be back to this part of the country. We plan on living in our current house for the rest of our lives. We love it here!
We did a major renovation on our home before we moved in. The inside of our home is about 80% complete. We are loving the house even more every day!
Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? I love the sense of community here in our neighborhood. I love the locally owned shops and restaurants as well as larger stores being so close to my home. Plus, the neighborhood is beautiful, and its proximity to the rest of KCMO is extremely handy.
Do any family members or pets live with you? I live with my partner of 20+ years. We chose not to have children. At the moment, we do not have any pets. However, we look forward to welcoming at least two dogs into our family over the next couple of years (we need to complete our home renovation, which includes significant work on the outside of our home.)
Occupation (past or present)? I moved here when I accepted a position at a local e-commerce company. There, I was the chief operations officer. I left that job and have focused on renovating our home. Recently I started looking for my next opportunity.
How do you like to spend your free time? Among other things, I spend my free time working on our home, traveling, watching movies (my partner and I are huge TV and movie aficionados), spending time with friends, hosting shindigs at our home, volunteering, and watching sporting events both live and on TV.
What is at the top of your bucket list? A three- or four-week trip to Australia/New Zealand is near the top of my bucket list. It takes so long to get there, I want to make sure I’m able to do everything I want over there without feeling rushed.
What is something most people don’t know about you? Most people don’t know that I’m actually a huge introvert. It takes a great deal of mental energy for me to interact with folks at social events. I love investing the energy, though, and always enjoy visiting with friends and neighbors and meeting new friends and neighbors.
What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? One of the most interesting features about my home is the arched French doors in both the dining and living rooms. While these 100-year-old doors are fully functional, we look forward to restoring them and making them look even more beautiful.
What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? My favorite memory I have of our neighborhood thus far is spending time at the Neighborhood Night Out Spring 2018. The was my second event sponsored by the WPHA. I brought with me five houses’ worth of neighbors to this event and had a wonderful time meeting and mingling with everyone there at The District. I can say that since that event, I have maintained many friendships and that sense of community is what motivated me to join the WPHA Board.
What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? My favorite area restaurant is The District. My favorite starter there is the goat cheese. My favorite drink there is The Fall Feather. My favorite meal there is mac and cheese with shrimp. OMG! Now I’m hungry!
Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? There isn’t anything I would necessarily change about the neighborhood. However, I do hope that we can muster up more participation from the residents in our WPHA functions. I know that the WPHA is committed to offering more opportunities for our residents to attend to give us a chance to get to know each other. Activities like WPHA-sponsored happy hours, ice cream socials, pizza party meet and greets and MORE! A calendar will be circulated soon. When the calendar comes out, the WPHA hopes to see you there!
Meet Nancy Bader, the current Ward Parkway Homes Association president, who has lived on Pennsylvania Avenue since June 2016.
Why did you choose to live in this neighborhood? We lived in Rockhill Gardens in the early ’90s. Then we moved to Johnson County for almost 20 years because of my job. We missed the city. We needed to come back. We wanted a walkable neighborhood. Someplace we could walk to shops, restaurants and other services. Moving to this neighborhood gave us all that, but it also allowed us to be close to friends and to be near areas of the city we enjoy the most. What we didn’t expect was the amazing sense of community this neighborhood provides. That has been the best benefit of living here!
Do any family members or pets live with you? My wife, Linetta, and two crazy dogs, Corbin and Daisy. In the picture, Daisy is closest to me.
Occupation (past or present)? I currently work with older adults. I teach strength, balance and flexibility classes, but I am most known for being a retired air traffic controller. Despite the frenetic nature of that job, I’m actually a very calm person.
How do you like to spend your free time? I love to exercise. We have a great Y on Troost, not too far from here, where I spend a fair amount of free time. This summer I will take advantage of the trolley trail.
What is at the top of your bucket list? I’m one of “those” people. I don’t have one.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I really enjoy socializing with a variety of people but, believe it or not, I hate to talk on the phone.
What’s the most interesting feature of, or story about, your house? Everyone who visits says the house has “good energy.” We felt the same thing the first time we entered the house. It is interesting how many people have said the same thing.
What is your favorite event or memory of the neighborhood? The first event we attended was the 4th of July picnic. We met new neighbors, learned about our area and were immediately welcomed. We knew then we made a good decision to live here. That friendliness also extends to everyday life. When people are out walking, they stop, talk and enjoy each other. I love that!
What is your favorite area business/restaurant/meal/drink/service? Because they are so close, we visit the District often, but there are so many neat businesses in the area we visit. It is hard to narrow down a favorite.
What Waldo hidden gem would you recommend to neighbors and why? I’m still exploring after more than two years. I don’t have one, yet.
Is there anything you would change about the neighborhood? Yes, I want more of our residents to be members of the Ward Parkway Homes Association. There are so many fun and interesting people in our community. With more members, we could provide additional social events and neighborhood services that would bring us together to make a stronger community. And building a stronger, more connected community makes our neighborhood safer and more enjoyable. I would love to see this neighborhood get even better than it already is!