George R. Kolb, who became Wichita’s first African American City Manager in May of 2004, died on May 20 after a brief illness at the age of 74.
His former co-workers and colleagues remember Kolb as a down-to-earth person who operated with high standards and expected the same of his staff.
“He was the best boss you could ask for,” said Van Williams, who worked in the Public Information Office during Kolb/s tenure.
Kolb led at a time when more African Americans served in the highest levels of Wichita City government than anytime before. His tenure as top administrator coincided with the leadership of Carl Brewer, who was the city’s first popularly elected African-American Mayor.
Other African Americans in leadership roles during his administration included assistant city manager Scott Moore, Chief of Police Norman Williams, Fire Chief Ron Blackwell, Municipal Court Judge Jennifer Jones, Director of Housing and Community Services Mary K. Vaughn, and City Courts Administrator Donte Martin.
After leaving as City Manager in January of 2008, Kolb left his mark on other Kansas communities, serving as Interim City Manager in Valley Center and in Great Bend.
Kolb left signs of his leadership throughout Wichita. His name is included in the pedestrian walkway at the Keeper of the Plains, he provided much of the early planning framework for the new terminal at Eisenhower National Airport, and he led initiatives to address decaying and blighted Wichita neighborhoods.
Those who knew Kolb best say his greatest passion was golf. He loved spending his free time playing golf with his golf family at MacDonald Golf Course in Wichita and he served as a board member of First Tee Greater Wichita from 2015 until his death.
First Tee is dedicated to building strength of character and empowering young children and teens to learn life skills through golf.
Kolb’s family is honoring his request for no service and asking for donations in his memory to any organization that conducts cancer research, The Humane Society or to First Tee Greater Wichita.