Gomer’s of Kansas owners honor Lenexa history with new mural

Leah Wankum - August 30, 2019 8:00 am
A new mural is nearly complete on the east wall of Gomer’s of Kansas in Lenexa City Center.

Gomer’s of Kansas is honoring Lenexa’s history by painting a mural on the side of its new location in Lenexa City Center — and the daughter of the couple who owns the liquor store is part of the creative team behind the project.

Kathy and Steve McLeroy have been working on plans for a mural for more than a year. Their daughter, Shannon McLeroy, and several of her colleagues studying illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute took over design of the project.

“We both like local history a lot, and I know Lenexa has a very strong historical society, and they also really emphasize their historical founding,” said Kathy McLeroy, noting the city’s recognition of Na-Nex-Se, a Shawnee native woman after whom the city of Lenexa is reputedly named.

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Located on the east wall of the liquor store at 17220 W. 87th St. Parkway, the mural depicts a landscape of prairie grass being sickled by the Moody family while first living in tents on the open prairie. A fruit tree, meadowlarks, sunflowers and wheat are also depicted, as well as a train to demonstrate the importance of railroading in the early history of the city.

Kathy McLeroy (left), her husband, Steve McLeroy (right), and their daughter Shannon McLeroy.

Besides Shannon McLeroy, the artists that created the mural are: Claire Kinnell, Madeline “Noel” Knaus, Lauren Koluch, Holly “Rae” Letenyei and Dawn Lewallen. They began sketching the mural in July and started painting the first week of August.

“It’s really neat; it’s definitely rewarding to do a project like this, because a lot of the projects that we’ve done so far have been for school, which is good practice and good exposure in itself,” said Shannon McLeroy, “but to do something that’s so public, and especially so closely tied with where I grew up and with my family, it’s really incredible to step back and look at it and see something that I’ve done with my friends that we’ve really worked hard on and see it come together.”

Steve McLeroy said he’s “extremely proud” of his daughter and pleased with the project.

“I’m not surprised that they’re capable of doing this,” he said. “I’m just so impressed with each and every one of them. They’re beyond talented, just really good people.”

The mural depicts five significant historical figures from the early days of the city of Lenexa, including:

Squire Charles Bradshaw and his wife Sarah Bradshaw: In 1869, the Bradshawss donated a portion of their land to the railroads and this land was where Lenexa was established (Old Town). They owned a fruit farm, which is shown in the mural with a pear tree

Octave Chanute, a civil engineer and aviation pioneer who platted the city of Lenexa in 1869

James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, an early lawman in the area. In 1858, he was the first constable of Monticello township, which later becoming Lenexa

Dorothy Moody, a teacher whose family members were early pioneers of Lenexa. The Moody family arrived in the area around 1857 and sickled native grasses in the fields that were to become Lenexa. Moody is an aunt of Ed “Gomer” Moody, one of the founders of Gomer’s Fine Wine and Spirits.

The McLeroys also noted that The Moody family plot is located in The Lenexa Cemetery at West 87th Street Parkway and Pflumm Road, Kathy McLeroy added.

The student-artists expect to complete the mural in the next few days. Because the mural is on the east side of the building, where it will have less sun exposure, they expect it to last for a while.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct an error. Dorothy Moody is Ed “Gomer” Moody’s aunt, not his great-aunt.

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