At the Kansas State Fair in September, then Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson unveiled the artwork for a new postage stamp that celebrates the Kansas’ sesquicentennial. The stamp features an traditional windmill in the foreground and a row of modern wind turbines in the background.
But, the stamp has a Great Bend connection. Photographer Keith Davis, who once lived in Great Bend and was a student at Barton Community College, took the picture of the giant white turbines used as a basis for the design.
The photo was incorporated into a painting by renowned commercial and fine-art painter Dean Mitchell. The stamp, which commemorates the 150th Anniversary of Kansas, is a symbolic snapshot of the state that includes many of the state’s most prominent features, including history, industry, agriculture, and pioneering ingenuity. Mitchell has connections to Kansas as he once lived in Overland Park and was an illustrator for Hallmark.
"It was a real honor," Davis said. Davis, a retired engineering technician, now lives in New Cambria, near Salina, where he operates a professional photography business.
He was invited to a ceremony at the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka on Jan. 27, Kansas Day, when the stamp was first offered for sale. He was joined by Gov. Sam Brownback, other state officials and representatives of the United States Postal Service.
The Kansas statehood stamp inclusion of the old metal windmill in the and five modern wind turbines signals the forward-looking nature of the modern Kansas economy. A golden band suggests the undulating plains of western Kansas, implying statewide prosperity in agriculture, while a green band hints at the forests and hills of eastern Kansas.
Davis’ picture was taken of the wind farm on the Ellsworth/Lincoln county line. He sold the picture to a company which notified him that the USPS had selected it to be used for the stamp project.
He then received an invitation from the USPS to be a part of the Jan. 27 festivities. "I wasn’t expecting my name to be mentioned. I even had people ask for my autograph."
Davis lived in Great Bend for 30 years, attending BCC in the 1970s. His mother, Beverly Davis, still lives here.