Rockne, Gipp and Jess Harper: On the Ranch with a Football Legend

(Editor’s Note: In September 1956, Topeka Daily Capital Sports Editor Dick Snider devoted a series of his Capitalizing on Sports columns one week to a sports legend living in southwestern Kansas.)

It’s inspiring to visit some of Kansas’ old-time athletic greats and see how and what they’re doing now. It inspires you to live to a ripe old age and settle down in the peaceful surroundings of beef cattle, oil wells and wheat. Or, the moral might be, you don’t have to be young and in Las Vegas to live it up.

Proof came first from 82-year-old Fred Clarke, who enjoys life amid his 1,300 acres and modest handful of oil wells near Winfield. And now we have Jess Harper.


Harper’s little empire is located seven and a half miles South of Sitka, which is west of Wichita and south of civilization. He calls it a ranch, probably because it includes some 20,000 acres. He calls it a good ranch, because it has 35 producing oil wells.

“I’ve got the most successful breeding secret ever known on this ranch,“ chuckles Harper, a comparative stripling of 71. “I’ve crossed Hereford cows with oil wells, and you can’t beat that.”

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Ordinary Genius Vince Cushing

Topeka Capital Journal
January 1992

When it came time for him to graduate from the University of Notre Dame, John Cushing had a problem. Cushing, who was the father of a friend of ours, didn’t have the money to pay his tuition, and the school had this sticky rule that if your tuition wasn’t paid you didn’t graduate.

He appealed to the priests who ran the place, and they said a rule was a rule. But when he made such a solemn promise he eventually would pay what he owed they relented and sent him out into the world.

Some 30 years later he paid what he figured he owed. He gave Notre Dame a new engineering building that still bears his name. He gave more than that, too. Continue reading