Remembering a behind the scenes giant

(Left) Harold Stones is pictured with Franki Roberts and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in 2013. (Journal photo by Dave Bergmeier.)

If you serve in Congress, you have to have a go-to person to get tasks accomplished. Former congressman and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, had many and unfortunately one of those died Nov. 30, 2023.

Harold Stones, Topeka, was a behind the scenes wingman for Roberts who kept him informed and provided the pulse of what constituents were seeking. His contributions were not lost on others. Above, Harold Stones is pictured with Franki Roberts and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in 2013 during an event in Dodge City, Kansas, in 2013.

Current senator pays tribute

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, issued a statement about Stones, the former executive vice president of the Kansas Bankers Association and special projects director for Roberts.

“Harold was an exceptional Kansan. He was a representative for bankers across Kansas and a true public servant, who never shied away from hard work and was dedicated to making Kansas a great state,” Moran said.

“Harold was a person you never expected to die and never wanted him to. He was always present—offering a helping hand, showing leadership, working to solve problems—and always treating others with care and compassion. I enjoyed talking with Harold and was encouraged by his constant optimism. Robba and I are praying for his loved ones, and he will be dearly missed.”

Stones, a native of Smith County, Kansas, grew up on a farm, which always had a special place for him. I knew him from his days at the Kansas Bankers Association when I was writing banking stories. He was at the helm when the Kansas banking industry went through many changes during the 1980s, from the farm crisis to changes in the way banks operated.

He was sought out for his expertise to navigate through the toughest times the agricultural economy faced since the Great Depression. Stones retired as executive vice president of the KBA in 1997 but his public service career was far from over.

Stones joined Roberts’ team in 1997 to draw on his expertise in economic development and strengthening military ties. Stones never forgot about the importance of agriculture.

Connected with the people

When he would ask me about the local economy, he would follow it up with “How are the farmers doing?” Natural disasters strike—from ice storms, droughts, wildfires and tornadoes—and I would get a phone call and Stones would ask what Sen. Roberts needed to know. He served with Sen. Roberts until 2021.

While Stones knew that Washington was not a place to solve immediate problems, but accurate information could help unleash federal resources.

He enjoyed the listening tours even Sen. Roberts had to field tough questions. Stones was effective at making sure criticism could be directed in a positive way. In this era where people want to make politics personal Stones found a way to deflect.

Harold was not on the ballot but his legacy with Roberts and zest for public service should not be lost on anyone.

Harold Stones was 92. He survived by three children, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Funeral services are planned for 11 a.m. Dec. 7 at Countryside United Methodist Church, Topeka. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Harold A. Stones Family Scholarship Fund at Fort Hays State University, sent in care of Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home, 2801 SW Urish Road, Topeka, KS 66614.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].