Wilbur Middle School

340 N Tyler Rd, Wichita, KS 67212

The educational facility located at 340 North Tyler Road, which was once known as Madonna High School and is now called Lawrence E. Wilbur Middle School, has a unique and noteworthy history of service to the community. It holds the distinction of having served two major educational systems, including both parochial and public school traditions.

On September 1, 1965, Bishop Byrne broke ground for a new high school for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, which was then named Madonna High School. The school was dedicated on March 19, 1967, as an all-girls high school. The Diocese offered to sell the school to USD 259 in 1971, and the Board of Education purchased it for $1,000,000, officially renaming it Wilbur Junior High School on May 24, 1971.

Wilbur dedication 1971
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle

The school was dedicated again in November of the same year, with Representative Garner Shriver (R) speaking at the proceedings, “We must teach truth, for only in the understanding of truth can man hold fast his dignity and his freedom,”  adding “America has a proud history of local control and support of education… We recognize that schools belong to the people and that their strength is derived from the people. If the schools are to serve the varied interests and needs of the people, the people directly concerned must determine their procedures and policies.”

Lawrence Wilbur 1967
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle

Lawrence E. Wilbur was a teacher and administrator in the Wichita schools. He was born on May 10, 1905, in Delano Township, and his parents were Elwyn G. and Olive Wilbur. He attended Peterson School and Allison Junior High before graduating from Wichita High School East. Wilbur received his college education at Friends University, graduating in 1928. He began his teaching career in May of that same year, with stops at Wellington Junior High and Wichita East.

Wilbur married Anna Amanda Wilson on July 19, 1928, at Friends University Church. According to the Wichita Eagle the couple, “departed for a wedding trip to Denver and Pueblo.” It does not appear that the couple had children.

Anna Wilbur’s Wedding Picture 1928
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle

In 1943, Wilbur moved downtown to work for the Board of Education as chief accountant and clerk-treasurer, eventually becoming the assistant superintendent for business services in 1947. He retired in 1967.

Lawrence Wilbur
Courtesy: Wichita Beacon

Wilbur passed away on September 26, 1970, at the age of 65, and is buried at Maple Grove Cemetery alongside Anna, who passed away in June of 1991 at the age of 86.

His Eagle’s obituary quoted a reporter who said, “Wilbur had a seemingly perpetual twinkle in his eyes, thought ‘there is nothing quite like human relationships.’”

Check out Wichita’s other public schools: Be True To Your School

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