Artist, Actor, Author...Preacher, Teacher, Poet...Renaissance Man. George Sanford Paris died May 5, 2018 in Topeka. He was born February 12, 1927, in Dighton, Kansas, the son of Mary Viola Paterson and Glen Allen Paris. He was educated in Lane County Schools, graduating from High school with honors in 1945, and received his BA degree from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. He was married to Velma Ruth King in September, 1950, in Liberal, Kansas. He received an M.A. degree from Peabody College, Vanderbilt University and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was a Campus Minister for the United Methodist Church, serving at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; University of Texas, Austin; and University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He came to Topeka in 1964 as State Director of Campus Ministry for the United Methodist Churches of Kansas, and also served as part time pastor of churches in Powhattan and Everest Kansas. For nine years he taught art and English classes and directed musical theater productions at Hayden High School in Topeka. He was the Program Director at Aldersgate Village when it opened in 1980. In 1982, he joined the staff of the Topeka Public Library and served there until his retirement in 1997.
He is survived by his five children: Jenith Hoover (Robin), Topeka; Kevin Paris (Cindy), Richmond Virginia; Todd Paris (Carly), Fairbanks, Alaska; Melanie Wambsganss, Topeka; and Tim Paris (Liz) of Topeka; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. The Paris family hosted four foreign exchange students during the years when their children were in high school. He was preceded in death by his wife Velma, his parents, two sisters, Florence Paris and Clara Splitter, and his brother Robert.
George was active in the arts, having been an actor in plays at Topeka Civic Theatre and Showcase Theatre. He sang with the Topeka Symphony Chorus and wrote poetry and short stories. He wrote and published a historical novel, A Distant Home (based on his mother's early married life in Western Kansas in the Dust Bowl era), which was honored with a Kansas Notable Book Award in 2010. He narrated, recorded and published a CD of several short stories about life on the farm during the Dust Bowl entitled "Back When I Was Alive." He designed the windows of the sanctuary of the University United Methodist Church in Topeka. George was an avid gardener and a member of the Gardeners of America. He belonged to the Topeka Genealogical Society, Friends of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, Topeka Friends of the Zoo, Saturday Night Literary Club, Kansas Authors Club, and volunteered at the Library and Topeka Civic Theater. He was active in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka Beginning in 1992, and maintained a passionate interest in the arts throughout his life. According to his wishes, his body has been donated to the university of Kansas Medical Center for medical research.
A celebration of George's life will be held Friday, May 11 at 11:00 a.m. at University United Methodist Church, 1621 SW College Ave., Topeka.
Contributions may be made to the Wildwood Conservation Foundation, PO Box 78, Guerneville CA 95446, in memory of George Paris.
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