November 19, 2011: This morning, the bell tolled for a beloved member of the The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum family. Lee Shank, former co-manager of the museum passed away last Tuesday and was laid to rest today. Lee and his wife Ruby served as co-managers of the museum for over 10 years. Those who knew him remember Lee's contageous smile and his obvious enjoyment of sharing his first-hand knowledge of what life was like living on and working the land in rural Kansas. His family told us how he sprang to life with excitement whenever the phone rang and his help was needed at the museum.
When anyone visited the museum for the first time, Lee's first task was to invite them into the museum theater to view a video summarizing the history of barbed wire. In 2011, in honor of Lee and Ruby's years of dedication to the museum,
the museum theater was renamed “The Lee and Ruby Shank Theatre”.
Lee E. Shank, age 92, of La Crosse, Kansas, died Tuesday, November 15, 2011, at the Rush County Memorial Hospital Long Term Care, La Crosse.
He was born March 7, 1919, to Eldridge I. and Grace A. (Robinson) Shank on a farm north of Bison, Kansas.
He attended Eclipse #53 grade school and graduated from Bison High School in 1938.
On August 17, 1940, he married Leola J. Schwindt of Bison at Larned, Kansas. To this union was born three sons and two daughters. Leola died April 5, 1995.
He farmed north of Bison from 1939 to 1960. They then moved to Bison where he was employed at Bison Farmer's Co-op until 1966. The family moved to Olathe, Kansas, in 1966 where he was employed at Allis Chalmers Engineering Department until his retirement in 1984.
On January 2, 1997, he married Ruby A. (Steitz) Krug at La Crosse, where they made their home.
Lee attended the First Lutheran Church in La Crosse. He loved farming, and while working for Allis Chalmers, he particularly enjoyed testing their experimental harvest equipment throughout the United States. True to his farming background, he enjoyed working in his beautiful yards and gardens in Olathe and La Crosse, and delighted in sharing the bounty from them with friends and family. Lee cherished the years he worked as a volunteer at the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum in La Crosse. He also treasured his daily camaraderie with his friends at the 4 Corner Restaurant in La Crosse.
He is survived by his wife Ruby Shank of Hoisington, Kansas; three sons Dannis L. Shank, and his wife Gaylene, of Goodland, Kansas, Duane D. Shank of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Dale E. Shank, and his wife, Lorrie, of Basehor, Kansas; 12 grandchildren; 23 great grandchildren; one sister, Thelma Fiala of Bison, Kansas; one neice Lorene Erb, and her husband, Jeff, of Keller, Texas; step son, Rod Krug, and his wife, Viola, of Searcy, Arizona; six step grandchildren and 11 step great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Eldridge I. and Grace A. (Robinson) Shank; his first wife, Leola J. (Schwindt) Shank (April 5, 1995); one infant daughter, Katherine Kay Shank; one brother-in-law, Edward Fiala; and one daughter in law, Shirley Shank (July 2011).