Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards

Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award


Bill House
Class of 1924


Bill HouseIf Bill House hadn’t learned to hitchhike, he probably wouldn’t have attended college in Arkansas City; he probably wouldn’t have gone on to the University of Kansas Law School and passed the bar exam; and he probably wouldn’t have become the successful cattleman he is today.


Thumbing a ride from his native Cedar Vale to Arkansas City and the junior college paid off. And now, 60 years after his graduation from Arkansas City Junior College, House is being honored as an Outstanding Tiger Alumni. “I thought the junior college always filled a real need,” House said. “I don’t know what I would have done. I might have drifted.


I’m real high on the junior college system. Some of the best professors I ever had were at the junior college. I’ll guarantee you the class of teachers I had here could have taught anywhere.”


House was born and reared on a farm north of Cedar Vale. He grew up in the Depression, when times were tough, and people had little money. In 1933, as a senior at Cedar Vale High School, House realized his only chance was to get a college education. “I got out of there because everybody was broke,” he said. “I came to the junior college the first chance I had. I had relatives in Ark City who said I could stay with them. I didn’t have a nickel.” House’s fortunes would soon change, however, as he qualified for a work study job at the college. It was mainly hard labor — working on Curry Field and sodding lawns — but it helped House get some money in his pocket. It also inspired him to continue school. He was introduced to a man named Clifton Ramsey, a successful lawyer from Arkansas City, who owned a restaurant in Lawrence. House enrolled at KU and worked for Ramsey at his restaurant, plus a couple other jobs. At one point he was working 56 hours per week with three jobs and took a full load of classes.

School came relatively easy for House. He graduated from KU with honors (Order of the Coif) from the Law School in 1939, the same year he passed the Kansas Bar exam. He developed his knowledge through two years at a job in the KU Law School Library. “It helped educate me as I helped other people with problems,” House said.


Shortly after passing the Kansas Bar exam, House came full circle, going back to the vocation in which he was raised — ranching. He set up ranching in Chautauqua County, built a cow-calf herd in 1947, and began showing calves in the 1950s. He won the Grand Championship four times at the American Royal in Kansas City.


“I got acquainted with a lot of people in the Midwest through those shows,” he said.


His experience producing top-quality Herefords helped him become president of the American Hereford Association in 1963. He represented the U.S. at the World Hereford Conference in Dublin, Ireland a year later. That same year he was elected president of the Kansas Livestock Association. As a result he spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C., representing the cattle industry. His law background made him a natural for serving on many committees. He also worked with the Kansas Legislature to change laws that affected state agriculture. He was having the time of his life.


“Our herds were purebred Herefords,” House said. “We’d groom them, show them and corn belt people would buy them. We got a good price and became known nationally.”


House was so well-known that he was elected president of the American National Cattleman Association in 1968 and 1969. In 1968 he represented the American Hereford Association at the World Hereford Conference in Sydney, Australia. Cattle had become his life. “Herefords had the largest registry in the world when I was president,” House said.


During the last 25 years, House has held numerous positions in cattlemen’s organizations, including:

• Vice president for the American Royal in Kansas City in 1977. He is still serving on the Board of Directors.

• Vice chairman of the Board of Governors for American Royal in 1988.

• Was honored by Kansas State University as the Kansas Cattleman of the Year in 1991.

• Serves on the Board of Directors for the American National Cattleman Association.


One of House’s recent projects may be one of his most important. He teamed up with cattlemen from across the U.S., some who have law backgrounds, to form a legal defense fund for cattlemen in this nation. House said the fund already has assisted several cattlemen. “Environmental groups have harassed cattlemen in the West and made it difficult to stay in business,” House said. “Environmental groups are using the courts to get somebody in trouble.”


House spends most of his time operating House Hereford Ranch, a combination of two ranches he owns and one he leases in Oklahoma. Five years ago he purchased the 4,500-acre ranch that most recently was known as L.B. Inc. “I consider myself a conservative cattleman,” House said. “You have to be prepared for the good years and the bad years and don’t get carried away.”

House said twice in his lifetime he had experienced six consecutive bad years.

His two years at ACJC were two of his best. “I enjoyed going to school here,” House said. “I enjoyed that work group we had. I enjoyed playing basketball. I lettered my second year and won a game against Independence as a freshman.”

Just one more thing Bill House wouldn’t have done had he not hitchhiked.