Former mayor, owner of Ag Press dies at 83

By The Mercury

Dean Coughenour, a long-time prominent businessman who served a term as city commissioner and mayor of Manhattan, died Saturday, Sept. 22, at his home on Westview Drive. He was 83.

For many years the owner of Ag Press, a printing organization on Yuma Street, Mr. Coughenour hardly fit the stereotype of a career politician. In fact his governmental involvement was almost exactly the opposite. He filed for the City Commission prior to the 1973 election because he did not like the direction the existing commission was taking, won a four-year seat, served that term – including a one-year stint as mayor in 1976-77 – and declined to run again, saying he believed he had fulfilled his commitment.

He was a man of diverse interests — business, financial and athletic — and he committed himself wholly to all of them.

Born June 9, 1929, in McPherson, Mr. Coughenour graduated from McPherson High School in 1947. He earned his degree at McPherson College in 1951, having played both basketball and baseball.

On Aug. 24, 1951, in Waka, Texas, he was united in marriage to the former Verlla Marie Hummer. They moved to Oberlin, where for the next five years he taught English at Oberlin High School and helped officiate at basketball games in the Oberlin area. He worked as managing editor of the Oberlin Herald newspaper for the next two years.

In 1958, they moved to Manhattan where he became a partner in the Manhattan Tribune News & Grass and Grain, which became Ag Press. At the time, the firm was located in Aggieville near Kansas State University, eventually moving to their current location on Yuma Street in 1970. Mr. Coughenour was active as owner and manager until retiring from the day-to-day operation in 1986. Even afterward, he kept close, often daily counsel with his successors there.

Mr. Coughenour was an inveterate tennis player, first at the Manhattan Country Club and later at the Corronwood Racquet Club, which he helped establish. He also was an expert on baseball statistics, and was considered by his peers to be an authority on early minor league performance. An avid reader, he maintained one of the most complete private libraries of baseball books known to exist.

He is survived by his wife Verlla, of the home. Also surviving are three children: Tim Coughenour, Lawrence; Susan Lundstrom and her husband Greg, Lindsborg; and Evan Coughenour, Manhattan. He is also survived by two grandchildren: Eric Lundstrom and Bebe Lopez and three great grandchildren: Carter and Beckett Lundstrom and Isis Lopez. Also surviving is his brother Bob Coughenour of Lenexa, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home with Rev. R.C. McConnell officiating. The family will receive friends during a visitation from 1 p.m. until service time at the funeral home.

On-line condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at Memorial contributions may be made to the Salvation Army, Manhattan, KS; McPherson College, McPherson, KS; or to a charity of the donor’s choice.  Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

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