Memorial contributions support boardwalk project at Wetlands

The Baker University wetlands.

A lifelong learner who valued the outdoors, Kenneth Head, ’53, always enjoyed exploring the Baker Wetlands as it continued to expand, creating more educational resources for Baker students and Douglas County residents.

To honor his legacy after he passed away in September, the Head family requested memorial gifts to help support the Baker University Wetlands. Contributions from friends and family, combined with a gift from the Lawrence Rotary and an anonymous donor, have helped fund the $20,000 Cottonwood Swamp Boardwalk project and will create a bench in Kenneth’s memory. Work is expected to begin this summer.

“He was especially interested in the biology department. We liked to go to the Wetlands. He liked the outdoors very much. We took quite a lot of memorable trips across the world with our Baker friends,” said Eleanor (Mize) Head, ’53, who was married to Kenneth for 64 years after meeting him on the Baldwin City campus.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology, Kenneth established a dental practice, serving the Paola area for 35 years before he retired in 1996. Through the years, the Heads stayed in contact with Ivan and Roger Boyd, ’69, biology professors at Baker. For more than 50 years, the father and son were crucial to the development, restoration, and maintenance of the Baker Wetlands.

“We got to take a tour with Dr. [Roger] Boyd and rode the jeep all around the area, and it was quite the experience,” Eleanor said. “We enjoyed seeing the Boy Scouts working that day at the arboretum.”

One of Head’s daughters, Diane Head, ’89, earned a medical degree from the University of Kansas after graduating from Baker. She specializes in anesthesiology and is a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“One of the first things that comes to mind when I think about the Wetlands is my ecology class at Baker—and the 4 a.m. water collections in freezing cold water! We are so thankful to Dr. Boyd and his family for having the foresight to acquire and develop the land, especially pertinent today with the reality of climate change all around us. Our family is pleased to support the Wetlands with a gift in honor of my dad. Baker not only shaped his life but also provided a lifetime of dear friends and memories,” Diane said.

The Head family appreciates the university-wide support for the project.

“So many people from Baker, in our community, and the people who loved him supported the project in his honor,” said Barbara Head, another daughter. “That was gratifying to see people step forward because he was a really good man and served his community.”

Barbara said the bench at the Wetlands will be a fitting tribute to her father.

“Our father was a very contemplative person. His idea of fun was reading a textbook about science or physics. He was at his most joyful when he was with his family and friends. We imagine families enjoying the bench on the boardwalk on a beautiful day for years to come,” she said.


  • Written by Steve Rottinghaus, '14 MSM