PAST DEPARTMENT PRESIDENTS: 1950-1959
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1949-1950
Mrs. Lillie Goble
Riley, Kansas
 
1950-1951
Mrs. Clarice Miller
El Dorado, Kansas

Mrs. Clarice Miller was elected President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas in 1950.  Prior to her year as Department President, Clarice served as Unit President of the El Dorado Unit #81 in 1943 and then later in 1973, 1976 and 1979.  She served as the Fifth District President in 1951-1952 and served as NEC in 1951-1952.  During World War II, Clarice worked for Boeing Aircraft Company.  She was a long time member of the First Christian Church of El Dorado, Kansas.  She died in November 1986.

1951-1952

Mrs. Leta Foster
Hutchinson, Kansas

Elected President in 1951, Leta Foster was the first woman to serve as President from the Hutchinson  Unit #68.  She shared that during her year as President, she had the opportunity to present  a diamond American Legion Auxiliary pin to Mamie Eisenhower (picture below).  She recalled that she actually "slid" into Washington Union Station just behind the train whose brakes had failed and went through the waiting room and in to the street!  The presentation of the pin was during the first party given since a complete redecoration of the White House.  Mrs. Foster continued "I wore my brand new $500.00 squirrel cape.  Armed with my invitation I was allowed inside but I had to leave my cape downstairs.  I had wrestled those little squirrels all the way from Hutchinson and I didn't trust them with anyone!"  Mrs. Foster mentioned that Mamie Eisenhower was so much prettier in person than in her pictures.  She wore an "alice blue" dress - a basque waist with full flared skirt about midcalf and a single strand of pearls.  It was an honor for a girl from Kansas to have been given this opportunity.  In addition to meeting Mrs. Eisenhower, Pat Nixon received her upon arriving.  Leta described her as a tall and beautiful young woman with pretty brown eyes.  Leta Foster passed away in Hutchinson, Kansas in April 1982.

1952-1953
Mrs. Ruth Hemphill
Norton, Kansas

A member of Harmonson-Redd Unit #63 in Norton, Kansas, Mrs. Ruth Hemphill served as Department President for the 1952-1953 administrative year.  She shared that her year of service was a whirlwind of activities with many things accomplished.  She recognized the great support of many dedicated co-workers who greatly enlarged her understanding of the organization and its operations.  1952-1953 was the year the coffee tours were initiated, then called "Grassroots Tours."  These tours were planned and organized by Kenneth Young, Department Adjutant.  As President, Mrs. Hemphill attended 55 tours and nearly all the 24 schools of instruction held in various areas of the state.  At this time, Department Presidents did not have themes, but rather projects and President Hemphill recognized the St. Francis Boys' Homes as her special project.  Because of the generosity of the Department and individual units, the monetary contributions were significant and the team learned much about the good work carried on by these homes.  Another contribution made from the department funds was a Wurlitzer juke box for the hospital at Carville, Louisiana.  Membership was strongly encouraged with a call to arms of "Over the Hill with Hemphill" and Kansas made quota by year end. President Hemphill attended many conferences including the Area D Conference on Girls State, Rehabilitation and Child Welfare in Sioux Falls, SD and the first Women's Forum on National Security held in Washington DC.  She attended all seven district conventions and presided over a very successful Department Convention held in Salina.  Special guest at convention was National President Mrs. Eve Ashton of Utah.  She recalled fondly the great honor to present Mary Koger, candidate for National Vice President later that year in St. Louis.  Ruth Hemphill died on May 10, 1997 and is buried in Norton.

1953-1954

Mrs. Sophia Fordham

Wichita, Kansas

Sophia Fordham was elected President of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Kansas in 1953 after actively serving her unit, district and Department on many committees.  She recalled the great honor when asked by the incoming National President Bess Lainson in January 1955 to serve as her Personal Page and carry the colors at National Convention.  During her year of service, Mrs. Fordham attended many training courses and traveled to attend a five-day training course in Civil Defense at the Staff College in Olney, Maryland.  Mrs. Fordham remained an active volunteer and earned over 6,000 volunteer hours at the Veterans Hospital in Wichita.  Sophia Fordham passed away October 4, 1988.

1954-1955
Mrs. Alice Telford
Winfield, Kansas

Alice Telford served as Department President in 1954-1955 and was a great champion for Kansas' membership efforts.  When urged by National President Bess Lainson to return to local units and community and recruit dedicated Auxiliary members, she recruited over 100 members for her unit each year.  She served at Sunflower Girls State for 19 years and was Director in 1964-1965. Mrs. Telford remained very active in many organizations and remarked how touching people and their families who "paid the price" was very rewarding.  "Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy" was her guiding principle.  Alice Telford passed away December 26, 1986.

1955-1956
Mrs. Freda Cady
Osborne, Kansas

Freda Cady joined the American Legion Auxiliary at Cawker City as a charter member.  She gained her eligibility through the World War I service of her brother Wayne McClain.  Later transferring her membership to Unit #49 in Osborne, Freda was very active in the American Legion Auxiliary, serving in many offices at the unit, district and state level.  She was a devoted supporter of Sunflower Girls State and served as Director for 3 years.  Freda was installed as Department President at the 35th annual Department Convention held in Memorial Hall on May 22, 1955 and under her leadership, the year was one of great accomplishments and progress for the Department.  Three new units were formed during her term and she visited 66 units and all seven districts. A special memory was watching 120 blind veterans make poppies.  In support of the Poppy Program, every Auxiliary unit in the state ordered poppies.  An active and visible president, Freda Cady was appointed as one of a group of 12 women by then Governor Fred Hall to serve on a new coordinating committee on traffic safety.  On January 13, 1956, she appeared on WDAF-TV and presented a $5,000 check from the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Kansas to the Cerebral Palsy Fund.  President Cady's convention was held in Hutchinson on June 1-3, 1956 and a highlight of this convention was the recognition of all unit presidents who were honored in a "Parade of Presidents." Freda McClain Cady passed away on September 3, 1986.

1956-1957
Mrs. Mary Plank
Baldwin, Kansas

Mrs. Mary Plank served the Department of Kansas as President in 1956-1957 and had the special honor to be the first Department President whose eligibility was gained through service in WWII.  The year began as the team set sail on a "Sea of Friendship" combined with "Moments to Remember."  It was a busy year for the Department and much was accomplished in support of the organization's mission.  After serving as President, Mrs. Plank continued to volunteer for the Auxiliary and prior to her death had not missed a Department Convention since 1950. She served over 28 years at Sunflower Girls State and remained active in the 8 and 40.  Mary Plank passed away on October 17, 2007 in Baldwin, Kansas.

 

1957-1958
Mrs. Viola Pritchard
Topeka, Kansas

A member of Capitol Unit #1 in Topeka, Viola Pritchard served as the 47th President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas.  Active and dedicated, Mrs. Pritchard traveled extensively throughout the Sunflower State as she worked tirelessly on behalf of veterans and their families.  The Department President's project was chosen for two reasons: to purchase new equipment for the nursery at the VA Hospital in Topeka; and to add funds for the nursery as it established itself as a functioning element at the new facility.  Due to the generosity of members in Kansas, more than $1,164. was raised and donated to purchase equipment and necessary items.  A focus was also given to the "Cheer Fund" to assist veterans in the VA system with needed care items and more than $500.00 in donations was received from the Kansas units.  During her year of service, the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas was recognized by the Kansas Citizens Safety Council in Topeka for their work on the Safety Program initiated throughout the state.  Viola Pritchard passed away in 1968 and is buried in Topeka, Kansas.

1958-1959
Mrs. Elizabeth Whetstone
Hutchinson, Kansas

The effervescent and energetic Elizabeth Whetsone was Department of Kansas President for the 1958-1959 year.  A life member of Lysle Richel Unit #68 in Hutchinson, Kansas, she was installed at convention held in the Allis Hotel in Wichita, Kansas in June 1958.  Mrs. Whetstone accomplished much during her year as President and cited a wonderful working relationship with her American Legion Commander Bill Haney.  Attending five of the seven districts and soliciting donations for poppies along the way, Mrs. Whetstone additionally visited holiday gift shops at the VA facilities and spent time in the poppy workrooms with the veterans.   Elizabeth Whetstone is most remembered for the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Plane that flew her across Kansas.  National President Ce Gunn was Kansas' special distinguished guest at Department Convention along with Governor Docking and the department's Little Miss Poppy.  Elizabeth Whetstone passed away in December 1981 at the age of 90. 

 

 

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