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Member Spotlight: Abner Perney

I’m a first wave Baby Boomer, born to parents who were married as soon as my father was released from the Army after mostly recovering from his injuries and malaria received in New Guinea. Being from Fort Madison, Iowa, they mysteriously ended up working in Topeka, Kansas, in time for my birth, August 5, 1946, and stayed until I completed the eighth grade, at Boswell Junior High. We then moved to Greeley, Colorado, where I graduated from High School in 1964. When I entered the University of Colorado at Boulder, my family moved to Estes Park, and my 2 brothers and 2 sisters all graduated from High School in that famous mountain town. I

On a weekend that Fall, my sister invited me to a pre-slumber party, party and introduced me to one Kathryne D. Wood who eventually married me in 1967, and who continues to guide and correct me to this very day! We graduated from the University of Colorado in 1969, I with a Bachelor of Architecture, and Kathryne with a Degree in Secondary Education. Together we have lived and worked in Hurst (Fort Worth), Texas; Johnson County, Kansas; Topeka, where our two sons were born, back to Shawnee, and then settled in Salina in August of 1980.

So, our nearly 44 years in Salina, have been busy and a lot like real life, I suppose. I arrived here after 11 years working as a Multi-Family Housing Development Representative for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. My new job here was with a small company, Nelson-Roth Development Company, where I worked on Housing and other projects for 3 years. The Company restructured in the face of the outrageous interest rates of the time and moved to Colorado. I stayed behind and became Director of the Salina Housing Authority, which was in serious trouble at the time for failure to complete its obligations with HUD and its dire financial condition. I worked there 11 years until I had the place operating per Regulations and at the maximum allowable financial reserves. I then resigned, or as I prefer to say, became self-unemployed in November 1994.

In the ensuing 30 years, I had a small construction company, primarily doing lofts and small house renovations. I also ran Abner’s Autos from 1997 to 2020, which basically was Kansas’s largest non-profit used cars sales outlet. During that time, I volunteered for many organizations in the community, served on the City commission 3 terms, served a couple terms on the Planning Commission, on The Board of Zoning Appeals, and on the Board of Salina Downtown, Inc.

I was a founding Member of the Boards of Ashby House, and of Salina Habitat for Humanity. I have been an active member of Sunrise Presbyterian Church since 1980.

Our sons went through Kindergarten and all 12 grades in the Salina School system. Older son Adam went on to College at Western State, of Gunnison, Colorado, joined the Marines, served 8 years, married and then earned a Masters of Mining Engineering at Colorado School of Mines. He lives in Lakewood, CO with his wife and our two grandchildren. Younger son Dylan graduated from Bethany College in Lindsberg with a degree in Religion and Philosophy and then followed up with a Masters Degree from Emporia State University in Ancient History. With those qualifications, he was able to work at Vortex of Salina, until his death in 2014 of complications of Heart Surgery. He is survived by his wife, Teri, who lives in Salina, works for the Post Office and helps out her aging In-Laws.

My recreational interests are cars, driving, travel and history. I am a Charter Member of the Salina Region of The Sports Car Club of America, current Regional Champion of F Street Autocross driving a 2005 Nissan 350 Z. I am also a member of the German Car Club of Kansas, and a Member and Docent at The Garage, automotive museum in Salina.

I look forward to learning more about the Salina community and enjoying the fellowship of Rotary in Salina.



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