News & Background


News & Background

Mary Lynn (Beech) Oliver Bio

Mary Lynn Oliver


Bio | Photo

The younger daughter of aviation legends Walter and Olive Ann Beech, Mary Lynn Oliver helped immortalize her famous parents’ story in The Barnstormer and The Lady. Mary Lynn shared personal stories and opened up family archives to award-winning author Dennis Farney, a former writer for the Wall Street Journal. The result is not just the first biography of either Walter or Olive Ann; it is also the definitive one.

This lifelong Wichitan balances her father’s passion for adventure and nature with her mother’s commitment to community building and the arts. Mary Lynn continues her parents’ legacy through her support of more organizations than we can list here. A sampling includes the Jane Goodall Institute, Larksfield Place, Wesley Medical Center, Wichita Community Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Sedgwick County Zoological Society, Humane Society, Kansas Health Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Via Christi Foundation, Hesston College, Wichita State University, WSU Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology, Delta Gamma sorority and Junior League of Wichita. The many accolades bestowed on her over the years could perhaps be best summarized by one: the Wichita Chamber of Commerce’s Uncommon Citizen Award.

Her business interests have included ownership of ML Bancshares and service as chair of the boards of Russell (Kansas) State Bank and Security State Bank, Great Bend. She has served as director of Bank IV, Wichita and United Missouri Bank Financial Corp., Kansas City.

Mary Lynn and her husband William L. Oliver are the parents of four children.

Speaker Request

Mary Lynn Oliver, the younger daughter of Walter and Olive Ann Beech, attends booksignings of The Barnstormer and The Lady and speaks to groups when her schedule allows.

Please direct inquiries to 316.689.4241. If you leave a message, please be sure to include organization, event, location and any other relevant information.

Dennis Farney Bio

Dennis Farney


Bio | Photo

Dennis Farney was named the Wall Street Journal’s “best writer” by the Washington Journalism Review (later renamed the American Journalism Review). He was a finalist (runner-up) for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for a series of articles entitled “The American Civilization,” which examined American society from multiple vantage points. He was nominated for the Pulitzer by the Journal on several additional occasions.

Early in his career he was a Journal features editor in New York and Washington. Then, absolutely convinced that reporters have more fun than editors, he resumed reporting as the Journal’s White House correspondent, covering the Ford and Carter administrations. His Carter coverage was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Later he covered the Senate and the House of Representatives, and national politics generally. His congressional coverage received a National Press Club award and Time magazine cited him among Washington correspondents “pre-eminent in their fields.”

Assignments during his thirty-five-year Journal career took him to every state, as well as to Europe, China, Vietnam, and the Middle East. He has interviewed such diverse figures as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson; author John Updike, psychiatrist Karl Menninger, and architect Louis Kahn. His work has appeared in National Geographic, The Atlantic, and Smithsonian and is included in the anthology The Best of Smithsonian.

He and his wife, Peggy, the parents of two grown children, live in Kansas City, Mo.

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