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Smiling Bull Award

   The Order of the Smiling Bull

It is not as ancient as the order of the garter and it lacks the prestige of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Nevertheless, those who have been admitted to membership in the Order of the Smiling Bull, awarded at the annual institutes of the Leavenworth County Bar Association, proudly display the plaque signifyng their membership.

The order was the brainchild of the late F.C. "Tim" Bannon of the Leavenworth Bar and past president of the Kansas Bar Association.  Over fifty years ago Tim, while visiting the foundry operated by a client, noticed in a pile of discarded material, a casting in bas-relief of a bull.  Although anatomically correct in every other essential detail, the bull's mouth was an expression which appealed to Tim's ever present sense of humor.  He persuaded his client to make a mold and to cast replicas of the rejected item.  He felt sure that he would find a use for them.  He did.

The Leavenworth County Bar Institutes had long been well attended by visiting lawyers who appreciated Leavenworth's irreverence for the liquor laws of Kansas and Tim saw an opportunity to add spice to the annual dinners by conferring on one of the guests, chosen by a "secret committee," membership in the Order of the Smiling Bull.  Doug Hudson of Fort Scott was the first so honored and as evidence of the distinction Tim presented him a walnut plaque bearing the heavy metal casting of the bull.  Doug was happy and the audience was pleased with the presentation and with Doug's response.

At each institute thereafter, a guest has similarly been honored.  The recipient was chosen by a "secret committee" (Tim in his lifetime).  The bylaws of the order, existing only in Tim's mind, required that no member of  Leavenworth Bar might recieve the bull.  An exception to this provision has only been made a hand full of times, first to Tim himself in 1979.  That year Spencer Gard and Tim both received the plaque. 

Unfortunately, the names of the recipients have not been recorded and the Leavenworth County Bar Association is attempting to obtain this information for the archives.  Tim's files on the subject are not complete but among the honorees, have been the following individuals:

  • Doug Hudson
  • Barner Barnett
  • Arthur Stanley
  • Alf Landon
  • Paul Wilson
  • Justice Robert Kaul
  • Spencer Gard
  • Michael Barbara
  • Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum
  • Senator Pat Roberts
  • Justice David Prager
  • CJ Holmes
  • Justice Robert Abbott
  • Justice Fred Six
  • John E. Shamberg
  • James Concannon
  • Clyde Graeber
  • Chief Justice Robert Davis
  • Governor Mark Parkinson
  • Governor Kathleen Sebelius
  • Attorney General Steve Six
  • Attorney General Robert Stephen
  • Judge Henry Green
  • Chief Justice Lawton Nuss