Thelma E. Kurtz, Distinguished Graduate Inducted 2019
Thelma “Tess” Kurtz is a distinguished graduate. Her love for Dallas County rural schools began when her family moved to Dallas County when she was about 9 years old. She attended several rural Dallas County Schools including Engle, Macedonia, Crescent, Cowden, and Buffalo Elementary. Some of her favorite memories are from attending the rural Dallas County Schools. In the rural schools, kids had to learn or they didn’t pass. She also attended Buffalo High School, graduating in 1948. She wasn’t as fond of the high school because it was so big and impersonal. She does have fond memories of some of her teachers including history teacher, Ms. McKown; business teacher, Ms. Williams; and Superintendent, Mr. Mallory.
Thelma Kurtz was married in 1955 to James Kurtz. They lived and worked in the Kansas City area and Pennsylvania while raising their family of six children before moving back to Buffalo after James’ retirement from TWA. She held several jobs during this time including, a job as a hostess at the Jesse James Family Farm outside Kearney, Missouri. She enjoyed sharing the history of the farm and family during her 12 years at this job.
Thelma Kurtz is greatly distinguished for her preservation of the history of her family and Dallas County communities. Her efforts to preserve history began before her father passed away. After he died, she became concerned that he and many others would not be remembered, along with the important memories of the past. She began writing family history books, five of which are books of her and James’ families.
When the small rural schools began consolidating into the Dallas County School District, she feared their history would disappear. She has worked on many school scrapbooks, has written four books on the Dallas County Schools history and written one book on the teachers of Dallas County. Thelma has written books of the community history for Louisburg, Windyville, Long Lane, Thorpe, and is currently working on the community of Olive. She says people are really drawn to the old photos and seem to enjoy them the most.
Thelma Kurtz is a lifetime member of the Dallas County Historical Society. She has been a member since 1960. She has assisted the Historical Society in acquiring and restoring the Crescent school house and Burlington Northern caboose located at the Buffalo Prairie Head Historical Park. She served as the president of the Dallas County Historical Society for 11 years.
In addition to the historical society, Mrs. Kurtz has been a member and leader of the Topping Elementary School PTO in Kansas City, including serving as President; Cub Scout Pack 36 in Kansas City, Missouri for 15 years including receiving the Silver Fawn Award from the Broken Arrow District; Girl Scout leader; Buffalo Garden Club; and Forest Keepers of Missouri. including being chosen as Landowner of the Year in 2008, for her efforts of conservation.
Thelma Kurtz’s is also a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Her children include Glen Harold of Iowa; J. Edward of Bolivar; Michael D. of Holt, Missouri; John P. of Jay, Indiana; Ida Marie of Willard, Missouri; Jennifer Lea of St. Louis, Missouri; and bonus daughter Judy Wright. She also has 15 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, with more on the way. She is so proud of her children and who they turned out to be.
Her decades long research is very important to her, as well as the opportunity to preserve and pass it along. This passion has distinguished her for her contributions to the community and school district.