The Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce presented Watco co-founder Kaye Lynne Webb with the first ever Influential Woman in Business Award this morning, December 8. Appropriately, the ceremony took place in a renovated freight depot.
The Frisco Event Center in Pittsburg, Kansas, filled up quickly as community and business leaders from around the area braved the below-freezing temperatures to gather to honor outstanding women, including Kaye Lynne. The award, created to honor a lifetime of accomplishments and service, started as a way to recognize all that she has done. Going forward, it will be known as the Kaye Lynne Webb Influential Woman in Business Award.
“Kaye Lynne emulates everything that an influential woman should be,” said Chamber President Blake Benson. “We wanted to create this award to show people, especially women business owners, what women can accomplish, even in male-dominated fields like the railroad industry. We named the award after her because she sets the bar so high.”
Kaye Lynne has lived in the Pittsburg area most of her life. After graduating from Pittsburg State University, she taught at two local schools before taking a position with PSU’s President’s Office in 1972. Since her retirement in 1996, she’s continued to volunteer with the university, the Chamber of Commerce, and various other charities and causes. One of her proudest accomplishments was securing the funding to build Immigrant Park, which is at the location that her own grandparents and many immigrants first arrived to the area by rail.
“All her life she’s been paving the way for women. Her leadership has left a mark on many, helping them find their way in business and many other endeavors,” said Linda Grilz, Kaye Lynne’s longtime friend as she presented the award.
Kaye Lynne likes to downplay her role in the founding and success of Watco, attributing it to her late husband Dick Webb and the other eight founding members, and later to her son, and CEO, Rick Webb and rest of the Watco Team. However, her leadership, contributions, and insight along the way have been invaluable.
“I am honored to be the first recipient of this award. I know there are a lot of people in this room that are just as worthy of getting this award, and I see a lot of young ladies, my two grandchildren included, that may be up here getting this award, so that makes me very proud,” said Kaye Lynne.
Benson says the award was created with two purposes in mind.
“First, we truly wanted to acknowledge and thank Kaye Lynne for all that she’s done for the community,” said Benson. “Second, we hope to use her story and success to inspire the next generation of women leaders in the community.”
A full video of the award ceremony is available on the Watco Companies Facebook page.