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Former Endowment Board member Gary Sollars to be recognized for years of service

When Gary Sollars retired in 2013, he was asked to serve on various volunteer boards.

One of those was the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center’s Endowment Board.

“When I retired, I was approached by several groups to serve on their board, and I said yes a little too often, but one of those groups was Bert Nash,” Sollars said.

He was glad he said yes to serving as a trustee on the Bert Nash Endowment Board.

“It’s been a great experience,” Sollars said.

For his years of service, Sollars will receive the Lyn Smith Award. The award recognizes individuals whose service has been exceptional while serving on either the Bert Nash Center’s Endowment Board of Trustees or Governing Board of Directors. Sollars served two terms as chair of the Endowment Board.

“I’m very honored to be recognized,” Sollars said. “It’s especially meaningful to me because I knew Lyn Smith. He was a retired physician. He and his wife retired here and got involved in the community right from the start. They were the neatest couple. What a wonderful guy. I worked with him on a couple of projects. He was so great for this community. We lost him too soon.”

Sollars grew up in Adrian, Mo., and attended Baker University on a football scholarship. His football career only lasted one season, but he enjoyed the college experience. He joined Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and met his future wife, Connie, at Baker. Sollars graduated with a degree in business administration in 1971. In 1977, he joined Charlton-Manley Insurance in Lawrence and helped to grow it into one of the largest independent insurance agencies in Kansas. One of his clients was the Bert Nash Center.

During his time on the Bert Nash Endowment Board, he gained a greater understanding of the programs and services offered by the Center.

“At our meetings, someone from the Bert Nash staff would come and tell us about what they do and the population they serve,” Sollars said. “That was the most fascinating thing to me, the breadth of services that Bert Nash provides. That was very meaningful.”

His experience on the Bert Nash Endowment Board also gave him a better insight into importance of destigmatizing mental illness.

“One of the best things that happened during my time on the board was we made a lot of progress on mental illness being treated like any other illness,” Sollars said. “We’re still not there, but we’re getting there. We’re making progress.”


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