Laird Wilcox of Olathe, KS passed away at the Olathe Medical Center on November 4th, 2023.
Laird was born in San Francisco, CA on November 28th, 1942, the son of Laird Wilcox Jr. and AuDeene Stromer Wilcox. His father was a WWII veteran of the Pacific theater. Laird lived in Broken Hills, NV as a child and then in Portola and San Jose, CA. In 1954 Laird's family moved first to Minnesota and traveled around for the next seven years while his father worked for the Fluor Corporation, a major industrial contractor. They also lived in Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Maryland and eventually settled in Kansas and the Kansas City area, where Laird lived the remainder of his life.
Laird began studying political movements when in high school. While at the University of Kansas in 1965, he founded the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements housed in Spencer Research Library, one of the largest collections of its kind. It is widely used by scholars and researchers from around the world. In 2015, he was honored at a 50th anniversary of the collection at the library.
He has received a number of awards for his work, including the Freedom of Information award from the Kansas Library Association, and the Mencken Award from the Free Press Association. He was a Benefactor member of KU's Friends of the Library and served on the library's Board of Advocates. He has also been a supporting member of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
He is the author of several reports and books, including Nazis, Communists, Klansmen and Others on the Fringe: Political Extremism in America and Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for the Inquiring Mind, both co-authored with Dr. John George. From 1979 to 1999, Laird published an annual series on political movements entitled The Guide to the American Right and The Guide to the American Left.
Laird is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, Society of Mayflower Descendants, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Military Order of the Loyal Legion and the Society of Plymouth Colony Descendants. He has been a member of the MENSA Society and Intertel.
He has also been a Special Deputy Sheriff in Shawnee and Wyandotte Counties, a life member of the National Rifle Association and an NRA certified pistol expert. For 17 years he served as a storm spotter and net control for the Johnson County Emergency Communications Service and was a member of several area amateur radio operator clubs.
Laird worked as a union carpenter for 25 years with Carpenters Local 61.
Laird Wilcox is survived by Cheryl Wilcox, his wife of 38 years; two daughters Elizabeth Carrier and Carrie Wilcox (Rory Dudley); two stepsons Ross Thompson (Peggy) and Barry Thompson (Kristin); five step grandchildren; one granddaughter Christine Franklin (John Pinkerton) and two grandsons Laird J. and Theodore Wilcox. He was preceded in death by his parents and his son Laird A. Wilcox.
Donations in honor of Laird Wilcox are suggested to go to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, 510 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 or to a charity of your choice.
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