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KSU to Honor Abilene Native, Reagan Staffer

KSAL Staff - September 27, 2016 11:06 am

This October, Kansas State University Libraries honors alumnus and Abilene native Marlin Fitzwater with an exhibit, “Marlin Fitzwater: From Wheat Fields to White House.”

Fitzwater, who received an honorary doctorate from Kansas State University in 2015, has donated his personal papers to the Richard L.D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections at K-State Libraries.

The items in the exhibit represent a small sample of the donation. Visitors will be able to examine correspondence, publications, photos, memorabilia and official government documents, all of which will be available to future generations of researchers.

The exhibit opens at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4. The evening will include a 6:30 p.m. conversation with Fitzwater moderated by Cathy Dawes, news director of 1350 KMAN. Fitzwater will reflect on his time as the only press secretary in U.S. history appointed by two presidents, both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Guests must RSVP, as space is limited. Contact Darchelle Martin at martin05@k-state.edu or 785-532-7442.

Fitzwater was born in Salina, grew up in Abilene, and graduated from Kansas State University in 1965. In the following decades, he rose through the ranks of civil service in Washington, D.C., where he served as a spokesman and speechwriter at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Treasury.

In 1983, Fitzwater joined the White House staff, where he remained for 10 years, including six as press secretary.

His role afforded him a front-row seat at some of the most important moments in modern history. Fitzwater’s reports to the press largely determined how the American public experienced the United States’ relationship to the Soviet Union and the last decade of the Cold War. His tenure as spokesman also included coverage of the Panama invasion and the Gulf War.

“Mr. Fitzwater has trusted K-State Libraries with a collection that reflects his journey from Abilene to Washington,” said Dean Lori Goetsch. “We are honored to present this exhibit so that his fellow Kansans and K-Staters can get an inside view of the White House as experienced by one of our own.”

Fitzwater and his wife, Melinda, will be visiting from their home near the Chesapeake Bay in Deale, Maryland. He will also visit several classes while on campus.

The exhibit will remain on display through March 17, 2017.

Story from Sarah McGreer Hoyt / Kansas State University

City of Salina