James D. Van Sickle

James D. Van Sickle

donor plaque

James D. Van Sickle was born on March 4, 1922, in Boston, Mass., arrived in Kansas about one year later, grew up in Lawrence, attended Ottawa University one year, and graduated from Kansas University in 1943 with a BS in mechanical engineering. After several months as a tool engineer for the Frigidaire Division of General Motors in Dayton, Ohio making Hamilton-Standard propellers for WWII planes, he spent three years in the US Navy as an instructor in the maintenance, repair and operation of airborne radar. After 18 years as engineer and president of Richardson Manufacturing Company in central Kansas, Van Sickle moved to Topeka in 1963 where he started Vanguard Products Corporation, producing precast concrete structures. He sold the company to Oldcastle Precast in 2005 and retired.

During the period of time spent in central Kansas he earned his private pilot license and flew his Beach Bonanza around the central United States on business and pleasure.

Van Sickle has had a lifetime interest in art and music, playing the clarinet in grade school and high school bands and orchestras, Ottawa University music groups, Kansas University concert and marching bands, and Corpus Christi Navy band. In Topeka Van Sickle started collecting paintings by local and Midwest artists and glass paperweights from around the world, both contemporary and antique.

In 2013 he donated his extensive paperweight collection to the Washburn University Foundation and arranged it to be auction off with the proceeds going to a fund for the building of a recital hall next to White Concert Hall.

Van Sickle has served on the KTWU building campaign committee, been a KTWU auction patron (many paintings), KTWU Producer's Club member, and the KTWU fundraising committee.