Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker to receive “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at 10th annual Gordon Parks Celebration

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2013 Contact: Jill Warford at 1-800-874-3722, ext. 5850 Email:

Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker to receive “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at 10th annual Gordon Parks Celebration

Fort Scott– Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker will be the recipient of the “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at the tenth annual Gordon Parks Celebration of Culture and Diversity this October 4-5 in Fort Scott, Kan. The Gordon Parks Celebration, a component of the Gordon Parks Museum/Center, was created in 2004 by Fort Scott Community College to honor Fort Scott native Gordon Parks, noted photographer, writer, musician, and filmmaker.
At the culmination of the first year’s events, the Choice of Weapons Award was established in Parks’ honor to be given annually at the Celebration. Named after his autobiography of the same name, the award seeks to honor a recipient who exemplifies the spirit and strength of character of Gordon Parks.
Previous honorees include actor and musician Avery Brooks, photographer Howard L. Bingham, Elizabeth Eckford and Ernest Green, two of the “Little Rock Nine,” Richard Roundtree, star of the Parks-directed film, “Shaft,” Nichelle Nichols of “Star Trek” fame, acclaimed actress Ruby Dee, photographer John Shearer, and LIFE magazine photo editor Bobbi Burrows.
Nancy Landon was born July 29, 1932, in Topeka, Kansas, to Alfred M. and Theo (Cobb) Landon. Shortly after her birth, her father became the 26th governor of Kansas. Alfred Landon was the 1936 Republican nominee for president. Nancy Landon graduated from the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan with a master’s in diplomatic history. She married Philip Kassebaum in 1956 and they had four children: John, Linda, Richard, and Bill - and seven grandchildren. Richard Kassebaum died of a Glioma Brain Tumor in 2008. Active in the family communications business and a member of the Maize school board, Kassebaum took a job in Senator James B. Pearson's office in 1975. When he chose not to seek reelection in 1978, Kassebaum entered the race and won a hard fought primary and general election. She was the first woman to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate. Senator-elect Kassebaum officially took office on December 23, 1978. During the next 18 years she served as Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee, Commerce Committee, African Subcommittee, Foreign Relations Committee, Budget Committee, and Chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee in the 104th Congress (now called the HELP Committee). Kassebaum was known for her work on health care and co-sponsored the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act with Senator Ted Kennedy. She was reelected in 1984 and 1990. Senator Kassebaum chose not to seek reelection in 1996. On December 7, 1996, shortly before leaving office, she married Howard H. Baker, Jr., U.S. Senator from Tennessee, who retired from the Senate in 1985 after serving 18 years During 2001-2005, Nancy and Howard lived in Tokyo, Japan, where he served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Prior to that time, Nancy served on the Board of Trustees for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nancy served as Chairman of the George C. Marshall Foundation and was the U.S. member of the Commission for Africa created in 2004 and chaired by Prime Minister Tony Blair. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society. Her special interests are her grandchildren, her husband, and Kansas. Kassebaum Baker was instrumental in the creation of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, comprising 10,894 acres in the Kansas Flint Hills. She will be honored at a tribute dinner on Friday, October 5. The Celebration schedule will soon be available on the Center’s website Tickets for Gordon Parks Celebration events will go on sale mid-September. For more information contact the Center by email at or by phone at 223-2700, ext. 5850 or see the website.


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