Wilbur Killblane

Wilbur Hugh Killblane, 89, a native of Arkansas City, passed away Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Services are 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Shepherd’s Grace Church, 1125 S. Summit, followed by burial in Parker Cemetery. A reception will follow at Shepherd’s Grace Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Shepherd’s Grace Youth Group. Contributions can be made through Shelley Family Funeral Home in Arkansas City or the church.

For more information, visit www.shelleyfamilyfh.com.

Wilbur Hugh Killblane was born the older of two sons to Hugh W. and Hattie Killblane in Arkansas City on Nov. 30, 1929. His mother was born in 1905 to a railroad family that had migrated to Ark City before the end of the 19th century. She moved away for a few years only to return with her husband in 1926. Wilbur graduated from high school in nearby Geuda Springs in 1947. That year he enlisted in the recently activated Kansas National Guard and served in Ark City’s K Company, 137th Infantry. He completed two years of Cowley County Junior College and then went to work with Boeing Aircraft Production Company in Wichita in 1952. He served in the National Guard until Boeing transferred Wilbur to Maine in 1957. 

Wilbur’s first marriage, to Joyce Louella Bell, had five sons, Hugh Edmund (died at birth), Richard Eldon, Donald Eugene, Douglas Wayne and Wilbur Hugh Junior. They returned to Ark City in 1960, and he went to work for Cessna in 1964. That year, Wilbur and Joyce divorced. 

The next year, Wilbur married Kathlyn J. Ellis and raised her daughter, Shandon Lee Ann, until their divorce in 1971. 

He married for a third and last time to Elaine Brunmeier in 1977 and raised her two daughters, Kathryn Gay and Eva Christine, as his own. 

Wilbur had a number of hobbies to keep him busy. He was best known for collecting military insignia and playing the drums. He started collecting Army patches in high school during World War II, and many later collectors would accuse him of starting off with an unfair advantage in collecting. For this reason, he accumulated a number of rare insignia, which he passed along to his son. He was a longtime member of the American Society of Military Insignia Collectors (ASMIC). 

He started playing drums in high school and had an ear for music. He played in the Arkansas City Band and then joined a local western swing band called the Flint Hill Playboys, which later changed their name to the Sons of the Saddle. They performed 30 minutes every week on KSOK. After returning to Ark City, he joined a five-piece western band called the Fugitives that played local dances and released one album. 

With three sons in the Army and Marines, Wilbur reenlisted in A Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Separate Infantry Brigade of the Kansas National Guard in 1976. Three years later, he transferred to the Kansas Air Guard’s 184th Tactical Air Command Fighter Group based at McConnell Air Force Base. He retired from Cessna in 1986 and from the Air Guard as a master sergeant the next year.

Wilbur spent his retirement researching the history of Ark City, reading every issue of the Arkansas City Traveler and talking about what he learned at the local archeological and historical societies. He contributed research to Heather D. Ferguson’s Images of America, Arkansas City (2008) and Arkansas City, People Places and Events (2011). He also shared much of his research with his friend and reporter, Foss Farrar, for articles in the Traveler.

Wilbur was preceded in death by his parents and three sons.

He is survived by his brother, Paul, and his two sons, Chad and Sean, of Ark City; two sons, Richard, of Williamsburg, Va., and Hugh, of Davis, Okla.; three stepdaughters, Shandon Weston, of Ark City;  Gay Seidel, of Ark City, and Christy Delamatar of Marysville, Ohio, that he raised as his own; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.