2021 Citizen of the Year
Dr. Perry Smith named
Chamber’s Citizens of the Year
Teacher. Mentor. Involved. Sports Enthusiast. Devoted. Loving. Unforgettable.
These words describe Great Bend Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Citizen of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding service by an individual who contributes to the quality of life within the community of Great Bend. This award recognizes an individual who has given their time, talent, energy, and shown outstanding service to the community and members of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, or persons who have excelled in their chosen profession giving of their time and talent to enhance the culture and work environment around them.
Nominees must possess and demonstrate a generous community spirit, exemplify quality leadership, act as a role model in the community and thereby raises the standards of social and business responsibility.
Dr. Perry Smith always knew he was going to become a doctor and with a laser focus through high school and college, graduated from the University of Kansas. His wife, Krista, often asked what his backup plan was should he not get into med school. She laughs remembering, “There never was any kind of backup plan. He wanted to be in family medicine, and he wanted to serve a small community.”
“We picked Great Bend because it was equal distance between my hometown of Syracuse and his hometown of Inman.”
In the summer of 1980, new doctor, Perry Smith and Krista, came to Great Bend where they’ve resided ever since. Perry wanted to live and work in a community where he knew his neighbors and could be within walking distance to his office, which was newly constructed at Lakin and Polk Streets and known as the Family Care Center. Their new residence on Broadway has served them well over the years as Halloween is Perry’s most favorite holiday and he’s thrilled with the hundreds of kids annually who make the trek down Broadway Trick-or-Treating.
In his 41-year career Dr. Smith remembered his mentor Dr. Replogle and continued his belief in taking time with each patient providing individualized care and furthermore believed that was something students needed to see first-hand. He passed on the way he was mentored to hundreds of students who visited, even taking them to the Salty Dog games. Krista reminisces saying, “Perry was just the ideal family practice doctor. He just really and truly cared for each and every one of his patients. And his students witnessed that, often commenting on how many people knew Dr. Smith outside of clinic hours.”
Though he never kept track of just how many babies he’s delivered, one of Dr. Smith’s greatest joys was OB and being asked to deliver second and third generations later in his career. Dr. Smith practiced medicine and leadership beyond the walls of his clinic when providing medical care for Barton Community College athletes, volunteering at the Barton County Community Health Department Family Planning Clinic, serving as Chief of Staff for Central Kansas Medical Center, and provided proctoring to numerous medical students, residents, nurse practitioners and Physician Assistants in training.
Outside of family medicine, both Dr. Smith and Krista have always felt compelled to give back due to being blessed by the community of Great Bend. Dr. Smith has been a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church for more than 40 years, serving as an elder, leadership council, building and grounds team; the Great Bend Kiwanis for 40 years currently serving on the leadership committee; the Barton County Historical Society, Brit Spaugh Zoological Society, Golden Belt Community Concert Association, Golden Belt Community Theatre, and 100 People Who Care.
Dr. Smith was also the United Way Co-Chair in 2014 and is Barton Community College Hall of Fame inductee.
Dr. Smith retired from family medicine in 2021 but hasn’t stopped caring for the people in Great Bend and Barton County. He’s built lifelong friendships along the way and his story of friendships includes the players and families of the Salty Dogs right at the heart of it all. An adult, recreational softball league, the Great Bend Salty Dogs were once the longest continually running softball team in the state of Kansas. As their, Dr. Smith cemented his place in the lives of the other players. His wife and two children were part of the Salty Dog’s family who are still gathering every Friday night during the summer. Retired life has leant itself to now gathering on Thursday afternoons at Dry Lake Brewing in downtown Great Bend.
For these reasons and countless other too numerous to list, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce is honored and pleased to announce that the 2021 Citizen of the Year is Dr. Perry Smith.
Citizen of the Year
The Great Bend Chamber of Commerce annually recognizes outstanding service by an individual who contributes to the quality of life within the community of Great Bend. This award recognizes an individual who has given their time, talent, energy, and shown outstanding service to the community and members of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, or persons who have excelled in their chosen profession giving of their time and talent to enhance the culture and work environment around them.
Previous Citizen of The Year Recipients
2020 Randy Smith
2019 Mike Johnson
2018 Barry Bowers
2017 Mark Mingenback
2016 Dan Bonine
2015 Jim Johnson
2014 Jan Westfall
2013 Roger Murphy
2012 Rick Ball
2011 Glen Opie
2010 Wally Straub
2009 Bob Dema
2008 Sheryl Cheely
2007 Bob Parrish
2006 Bill Berryman
2005 Terry & MelEasa Stueder
2004 Ron Koelsch
2003 Danny Biggs
2002 Jean Cavanaugh
2001 Orville Huss
2000 Mark Calcara
1999 LeRoy Dringmann
1998 Don Whelan