by John Martellaro // Pat McSparin // Fall 2012

Kansas City offers access to world-class arts and culture, major league sports, global players in business, cultural diversity, great restaurants and popular entertainment, shopping and more. Yet it’s hardly uncommon for alumni to return to their small-town or rural roots and carve out a future in a smaller, slower-paced environment. Here are alumni who have made the choice to live and work closer to blue highways than city freeways.

Betsy Vohs
Photo: Dan Videtich

Paola, Kansas

Population: 5,602

Betsy Vohs (M.A. ’77)

Elementary school art teacher

The educator

Vohs grew up in Kansas City, met her husband and taught school here. When a job change for her husband, Tom, took them to Nashville, she traded one major urban center for another. Then his career took them to Paola, Kan.

Putting down roots: “When we first came to Paola it was like, ‘We’re not staying here very long’—but then we had two kids and came to love it. I like the closeness, knowing the people, knowing the freedom my children have here is great.”

Faces and names: “I know the kids I teach here better than in Kansas City or Nashville, which is good and bad. I see them around and they see me around. There are two sides to knowing everyone. Everybody knows your business.”

Lifestyle vs. practicality: They loved Paola enough to stay, even when Tom took a job in Lansing, Kan., a 50-plus-mile commute in each direction. Once Betsy retires in a few years, though, a move may be in the offing—for practical purposes, not lifestyle. “We may move back up to the city then,” she says, “to get him closer to work, and I have parents there now.”

80 things we love about UMKC
Behind the ballot

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