Star Lumber to brighten University’s holiday traditions

The festive illumination of Friends University’s iconic clock tower has become one of Wichita’s traditional symbols for the start of the holiday season. This year’s celebrations will shine a bit brighter with the help of one of the community’s most charitable families.

Friends University and the Goebel Family Star Lumber Charitable Foundation are pleased to announce that the foundation is donating $17,000 toward the illumination of the University’s clock tower this season. The gift is part of the foundation’s ongoing commitment to Wichita and its outstanding educational institutions.

“For over 75 years, the Goebel family has been active in the Wichita area and is committed to higher education and the benefit it has on the community,” said Jenny Stephens, chairman of the foundation. “We are proud of the Friends University graduates in the family, and the dozens of Friends graduates who have benefited from the Star Lumber employee scholarship these past 35 years. We are honored to be able to continue this important holiday tradition with this gift of light.”

The Goebel Family Star Lumber Charitable Foundation operates with the philosophy of giving back to its community by using 8 percent of pre-tax operating profits from Star Lumber & Supply to serve its community.

“At Star Lumber & Supply, our customers, vendors, partners and employees will all benefit from this wonderful gift from the foundation,” said Star Lumber President Patrick Goebel. “The gift of light is a natural fit for our company this Christmas season. This is our way of giving back to the community.”

Friends University and the Goebel family’s foundation have enjoyed a strong partnership – one that has thrived and grown throughout the years.

“We are honored to be the recipients of this generous gift,” said Friends University Interim President Dr. Darcy Zabel. “The clock tower has been a part of the Wichita skyline for more than 115 years and to have the Goebel family as a partner in its illumination is symbolic of their commitment to not only the University, but also to the community.”

As part of this year’s Christmas festivities, Friends University invites the community to celebrate the foundation’s gift and this year’s lighting of the clock tower Dec 3. The following activities are free and open to the public.

  • A check presentation will take place starting at 3:10 p.m. on the second floor of the Davis Administration Building. Stephens will present a giant $17,000 check to the University at this time, and the foundation will be recognized for their contribution.
  • The lighting ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Davis Administration Building. Activities will include a holiday skit by the Acts of Faith theater group; the reading of the Christmas story; and music and caroling by members of the Brass Band, the Singing Quakers and Concert Choir. Attendees will move to Rose Window Plaza outside the building at approximately 5:45 p.m. for the official countdown to the lighting of the angels, a group of Christmas trees decorated by various student clubs and organizations, the wreath and the clock tower.
  • Following the lighting ceremony, everyone is invited to Casado Campus Center to participate in some community service and crafting activities from approximately 6 to 8 p.m. Activities will include making tie-together fleece blankets that will be donated to Operation Holiday, writing letters to soldiers, and making pet toys for the Kansas Humane Society, in addition to other activities such as cookie- and ornament-decorating stations and a hot cocoa bar.
  • STAR LUMBER & SUPPLY CO., family owned and operated, has been serving Kansas for more than 75 years. It specializes in building materials, home projects and flooring. The company operates in Kansas and Oklahoma with more than 300 employees. For more information, visit
  • Friends University offers high-quality undergraduate and graduate academic programs for traditional students and working adults. Rooted both in the liberal arts tradition and the Christian tradition, students learn inside and outside the classroom. Friends University is a regional university with national programs and an international presence.

Friends University Christmas Lighting Facts

  • The clock tower lighting tradition was established in 1998, during the University’s centennial celebration.
  • The tower features approximately 12,950 lights.
  • The 12-by-15-foot heralding angels span 42 feet across the entrance to the University at the corner of Hiram and University streets.
  • The lighted wreath above the Davis Administration Building’s entrance is about 12 feet in diameter.
  • A hailstorm in July 2009 damaged the clock tower and the Davis Administration Building’s roof, and the tower remained unlighted that year.
  • It takes approximately five to six days to replace the lights each year (weather permitting) and requires a crane high enough to reach the top of the 148-foot tower.
  • The length of time the clock tower remains lighted has varied in past years. Sometimes the University has kept the lights shining from December through April. During other years, the lights have been operational throughout December and January only.