PAST DEPARTMENT PRESIDENTS: 1930-1939
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1929-1930
Mrs. Nellie M. Cook
Independence, Kansas

Mrs. Nellie M. Cook was a charter member of the Independence Unit #139 and served as the second president of her unit in 1921.  In 1926, she was elected as Third District President and in 1928, she was elected and served as Vice President and membership chairman for the Department of Kansas.  At the Department Convention in Topeka in June 1929, Nellie was elected President for the Department of Kansas.  One unique fact as found in the Kansas Legionette was that 350 American Legion Auxiliary members attended the banquet held at the roof Garden of the Jayhawk Hotel.  The officers were installed in October and assumed their office in November.  The cost of the Legionette at that time was $.25 per year.  Department President Nellie Cook used the motto, "Our Work in the American Legion Auxiliary shall be Work of Service and Love."  The membership reports showed the Independence unit led the Department in membership with a roster of 359 and the Department of Kansas had a total of 10,970 members.  Department President Nellie had a special project, the "Memorial Poppy Gardens" to be planted in cemeteries, city parks, and public places.  The October 1930 issue of the Legionette showed a picture of the first garden with Department president Nellie and other Auxiliary members.  Special emphasis was placed on Veteran's Hospitals, the Poppy Program, and the special needs of the orphans at Legionville.  Christmas items were sent to the orphans and the veterans in these facilities. Department Convention was held at Chanute, KS on August 19-20, 1930.  The rooms for the delegates were $1.25 and $1.50.  A resolution was passed at this convention, endorsing the plan for the "Memorial Poppy Garden," and it was recommended that the Department of Kansas take the initiative in sponsoring a movement to have all Departments in the national organization join together to urge their units to plant "Memorial Poppy Gardens" in local public places.  Nellie was very active in her community, as well as the American Legion Auxiliary.  The local unit honored her by planting a tree on the Memorial Hall grounds on June 17, 1941 and the Past President's Parley started a "Memorial Poppy Garden" in the city park in her honor.  Nellie M. Cook passed away and was buried October 29, 1953 in Cherryvale, Kansas.

1930-1931
Mrs. Ruth Nickell
Topeka, Kansas

Mrs. Ruth Nickell was elected to serve as the Department President at the 10th annual Department Convention.  Ruth was active in organizing the American Legion Auxiliary  for the Department of Kansas, as well as her own unit, Topeka Unit #1.  The year was a most successful one for the units in Kansas and was highlighted by an energetic Christmas program for the veterans and children in hospitals.  Emphasis was placed on membership, veterans' issues, poppies, poppy memorial gardens, community service and projects in support of children.  The Department of Kansas exceeded the national quota by 1,000 giving the state a membership of 13,066.  Department President Nickell presided over the 11th annual convention held in Manhattan, Kansas on June 4-5, 1931. 

1931-1932
Mrs. Kathryn C. Miller
Anthony, Kansas

A citizen of Anthony, Kansas located in the seventh district, Kathryn Miller served as Department President in 1931-1932.  Kathryn was a very gracious lady and she and her husband Myron were both very active in The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.  They had no children, but she was very close to her niece, Mrs. Cerney Bird of Anthony.  The Millers attended all conventions and anything that pertained to activities that involved the Legion Family.  Together they toured Germany for a year hosting and attending workshops.  She was a very entertaining woman who traveled the state sharing information via lectures and movies.  In their senior years, the Millers lived in Phoenix, Arizona where Kathryn continued to entertain and travel.

1932-1933
Mrs.  Dora Gaitskill
Girard, Kansas

Mrs. Dora Gaitskill was elected President of the American Legion Auxiliary at the Department Convention held in Hutchinson in 1932.  Her husband Joe served as Department Commander of Kansas for The American Legion in 1926.  Mrs. Gaitskill was a charter member of the George C. Brown, Unit #26 in Girard, Kansas.  She was a member of the Department of Kansas Executive Committee from 1922-1924 and was Vice President, Membership in 1931.  Dora remained very active in the American Legion Auxiliary and other clubs in Girard until her death at the age of 86 on September 1, 1981.

1933-1934
Mrs.  Vera G. Soelter
Wamego, Kansas

Mrs. Vera Soelter was a life member of the Harold Johnson, Unit #172 in Wamego, Kansas.  In 1933, at the age of 37, she was elected 13th President of the Department of Kansas.  In 1939, Vera organized, directed and served as president of Girls State, which was one of the first Girls State programs in the United States.  The first session was held at Washburn College in Topeka.    Through her efforts and development of this program, Girls State expanded to other states across the country.  Vera and her husband retired to Bella Vista, Arizona where she passed away on January 3, 1993.  She delighted in her daughter, son, six grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren and remained active in the Methodist Church, Bella Vista Republican Club, Andanic Music Club and the Symphony Guild until her death.

1934-1935
Mrs.  Gladine Harris
Ft. Scott, Kansas

Mrs. Gladine Harris, a native of Ft. Scott, Kansas was one of the organizers and a charter member of American Legion Auxiliary, Clair C. Harkey, Unit #25.  Prior to her marriage to Ernest Harris in 1923, she lost her first husband, Julian O. Cochran on September 29, 1918 in World War I at the Argonne battle.  She had a son, Julian C. Cochran from her first marriage and then two daughters Marilyn and Donna from her second marriage.  In her capacity as President, Gladine visited every county in the state of Kansas was devoted to the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary.  She attended every department convention until the time of her death on January 18, 1944 from a heart attack.  In addition to her work with the Auxiliary, she was state president of the Kansas Women's Republican Club and was prominent in local, district and state Republican circles.

1935-1936
Mrs.  Fern Tucker Leveque
Liberal, Kansas

At the Department Convention of the Kansas American Legion Auxiliary held August 5-7, 1935 in Arkansas City, Kansas, the delegates of Kansas elected Mrs. Fern Tucker Leveque of Liberal, Kansas Department President.  While President, Mrs. Tucker traveled extensively and spent much time at the department office in Topeka.  Mrs. Leveque worked tirelessly along with her husband as members of the Panhandle-Plains Association of The American Legion and Auxiliary to encourage the construction of a VA Hospital in the area to assist veterans in the Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas regions.  The 16th Annual Convention was held June 15-17, 1936 in Topeka where there were a total of 450 registered delegates from 105 counties in Kansas.  The hall was lined with baskets of beautiful ferns in keeping with the name, "The Fern Session."  After her year as President, Fern was appointed Area D. National Child Welfare Chairman for 1936-1937 and later served as National Music Chairman in 1937-1938.  Fern was always a friend to children and continued to sponsor Girls State delegates throughout her lifetime.  Mrs. Leveque encouraged many to aspire to new heights through education.  Fern Tucker Leveque passed away in December, 1972.

1936-1937
Mrs.  Alice Damron
Leavenworth, Kansas

Mrs. Alice Damron was elected to serve as President for the Department of Kansas at the 16th annual Department Convention, June 15-17, 1936 in Topeka, KS.  President Damron attended the National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio and witnessed the election of Kansas' own Harry W. Colmery as National Commander.  Legionville was quarantined due to a siege of scarlet fever.  An emergency call went out to the American Legion Auxiliary units in Kansas who met the challenge to replace books and other items that had to be burned.  Special emphasis was placed on veterans, children, veteran's hospitals, Legionville, poppies, Memorial Poppy Gardens and Junior Activities.  Kansas exceeded their national membership goal by 100 reaching a new high of 12,471.  Department President Alice Damron presided over the 17th annual Department Convention which was held June 7-9, 1937 in Hutchinson, Kansas.  Alice Damron passed away November 20, 1987.

1937-1938
Mrs.  Kathryn Crawford
Council Grove, Kansas

Mrs. Kathryn Crawford was born Kathryn Titus in 1891 and later married Dr. Benjamin Crawford.  Mrs. Crawford was known to her friends as Kitty.  She was a charter member of the Council Grove unit, serving first as secretary and then unit president.  Kathryn and Dr. Crawford attended many national conventions and in 1927 attended the convention in Paris, France where she was a delegate.  Following her year as Department President she served the national organization on several different committees.  Kathryn was a member and leader in many community organizations.  She was a Past Matron of The Order of Eastern Star and a member of 8 and 40 in Topeka.  Kathryn Crawford passed away August 11, 1950.

1938-1939
Mrs.  Mary Peterson
Kansas City, Kansas

Mary E. Peterson was elected to serve as the Department President at the 18th annual Department Convention in Wichita, Kansas on June 6-8, 1938.  Mrs. Peterson was a member of Wyandotte Unit #83 in Kansas City, Kansas and was very active in her unit and in the Kansas City area.  Many outstanding things occurred in Kansas during the 1938-1939 year.  Vera Soelter was the Americanism chairman for the department and worked to organize Girls State which became a reality in June 1939.  125 girls attended the first session at a cost of $12.50 per citizen.  Great attention was given to veterans, children, poppies and Americanism.  The Dollar Bill Day was successful with 2,100 veterans in Kansas receiving a dollar.  The Department of Kansas received $4,401.50 in donations from the distribution of poppies.  Legionville was closed May 15, 1939 as they could not get enough financial support to keep it open and operational.  In 1924, Mr. Dabney donated 400 acres and $25,000 to The American Legion to maintain a home for war orphans.  Department President Mary Peterson presided over the 19th annual convention held in Chanute, June 19-21, 1939.  Registration was $.25 and rooms were $2.25.

 

 

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