PAST DEPARTMENT PRESIDENTS: 1970-1979
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1969-1970
Mrs. Wyota Adams
Overland Park, Kansas

A member of Dwight Cowles Unit #370, Wyota Adams of Overland Park was elected to serve as Department President for the 1969-1970 administrative year.  She commented that it was a great privilege to serve during the Fiftieth Anniversary of The American Legion and was therefore a proud "Golden Girl" as named by National President Marcella Davidson.  A special Presidents and Secretaries Conference was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota since that was the birthplace of The American Legion.  It was during this administration that the new Department of Kansas Headquarters building was built and dedicated.  It was a proud accomplishment of President Adams to share that the Auxiliary was able to raise their share (one-third) of the cost.  It was a long-standing dream come true.  Since the conclusion of her term and prior to her death, Mrs. Adams remained a dedicated, loyal and committed member to her local unit, district and department.  She passed away on August 24, 1995.

1970-1971
Mrs. Opal Jean Gaines
Wichita, Kansas

The 1970-1971 administrative year began with the installation of officers by Past Department President, Sophia Fordham, also a member of Thomas Hopkins, Unit #4 of Wichita.  Upon her election, President Gaines announced her theme, "Polishing the Stars of Service" urging each chairman to "polish her program star" to improve action and deed in each program initiative.  President Gaines traveled extensively as President and attended the National President's reception in Chicago, Presidents and Secretaries Conference in Indianapolis and the Area D Conference in Milwaukee.  Throughout the year, District Presidents joined in the fun as they polished stars to improve membership and make a difference at the district level.  The Auxiliary proudly won the membership challenge, with President Gaines the recipient of a lovely necklace from Department Commander Harry Wiles.  Following National Convention in Houston, Opal Jean Gaines served as the National Director of Volunteers for a two-year term and later served as National Central Division Vice President in 1982-1983. Opal Jean Gaines passed away on January 25, 2008.

1971-1972
Mrs. Virginia Lane
Hoisington, Kansas

A member of Unit #286 of Hoisington, Virginia Lane announced her theme for the year, "Be Aware and Care" as she accepted the responsibility to serve as President of the American Legion Auxiliary for the 1971-1972 year.  Each month the Legionette featured "Views from Virginia" as she traveled the state in support of veterans and their families.  Val Jean Depew, served as Vice President and Membership Chairman and together they "Beat the Drum" for membership with "Boom! Boom! Boom!" heard around the state.  President Lane attended National President Bertha Parker's Homecoming in Oklahoma, as well as one session of Girls Nation.  She later served as the Central Division Chairman for Junior Activities.  President Lane commented that during her year as Department President, she found it difficult to cash checks do to the fact that she did not drive and did not have a license.  In response to this issue, Mrs. Lane was instrumental in urging the State Vehicle Department to issue identification for non drivers.  Virginia Lane passed away on July 22, 2001.

1972-1973
Mrs. Val Jean Depew
Greenleaf, Kansas

A member of Unit #235 of Greenleaf, Val Jean Depew was elected President of the American Legion Auxiliary at the annual Department Convention.  She recalled a very enjoyable year with many positive experiences.  President Depew highlighted meetings to units and attending American Legion Birthday parties as some of the most memorable experiences.  She attended "Coffee Tours" and was honored to serve as Chairman of the delegation to national convention held in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Val Jean Depew passed away on September 28, 2003.

1973-1974
Mrs. Eileen Ozias
Kansas City, Kansas

A member of Argentine Unit #111 of Kansas City, Eileen Ozias became the 53rd President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas. She was an active member since 1954 and served as president of both her unit and district.  During her year as Department President, Mrs. Ozias chose as her theme "Rainbow of Service" - reflection of her wonderful personality who brought joy to all she knew.  One of the many highlights during her term as President was the official visit of National President Mrs. Mary Sue Jarrett.  On April 27th and 28th, a delegation that included Past National President Mary Koger, and many Past Department Presidents met President Jarrett in Wichita where they toured Kansas and made many stops to connect with grassroots members.  Eileen was an active person in the Argentine community and always willing to help and serve.  A kindly person always shouldering the cares of others less fortunate, she spent many hours as a volunteer at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center.  She was remembered as having a heart of gold and on special holidays always had room for a couple of veterans at her home.  Eileen was an advocate for adoption and was very proud of her adopted children Nancy and Larry.  Eileen loved poetry and was a friend to all who knew her.  She passed away on March 7, 1978.

1974-1975
Mrs. Vera Boyce
Howard, Kansas

"Walk Hand in Hand with Me for God and Country" was the theme chosen by new Department President Vera Boyce of Carter Rader Unit #149 upon her election to serve the Department of Kansas.  Accepting the honor with humility and pride, she led the Department with great vigor and accomplished much in service to veterans and their families.  From her election in Salina on June 22, 1974 until her Department Convention, Mrs. Boyce was active and on the go.  Attending National Convention in Miami, traveling and attending receptions and visiting gift shops, jetting off to Washington, DC for the Women's Forum on National Security and attending district conventions, President Boyce made sure to connect with members and encourage activism at every stop.  With help and assistance from members, the Department of Kansas achieved its national membership goal on April 19, 1975.  Vera Boyce passed away in 2000 at the age of 92.

1975-1976
Mrs. Geraldine Hobble
Wichita, Kansas

It was the Bicentennial year for our country and an exciting time for the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas.  In support of national pride for the special year, President Hobble chose "The Spirit of America" as her theme as she believed that the spirit that started America was still alive and vital among its citizens.  During her year of service, Kansas was privileged to present a Liberty bell to the State of Kansas which was placed in the rotunda of the State Capital Building.  The dedication services were highlighted by the presence of National President Lotys Schanel of Rhode Island who paid her official visit to Kansas during the presentation week.  Mrs. Hobble recalled the Trophy Room and Museum was started at the Department Headquarters as part of the Bicentennial program.  Once again all seven districts reached their membership goal making the year a membership success for Kansas and President Hobble.  In addition to her work with the American Legion Auxiliary, Mrs. Hobble was also active in the 8 and 40.  Geraldine Hobble passed away on October 5, 2008 and was buried the following Saturday as many of the American Legion family attended its annual Eisenhower Pilgrimage.  During the day of remembrance and reflection, Geraldine, a dear friend to many, was in the hearts and prayers of those whose lives she touched in a positive way.

1976-1977
Mrs. Mary Shahan
Bird City, Kansas

A member of Bird City Unit #352, Mrs. Mary Shahan became the second member from the Bird City unit to assume the position of Department President of the American Legion Auxiliary. She documented that "love shone across the state" as members gathered in support of the auxiliary and its mission.  Poppy hearts of Love were everywhere as members got creative to highlight President Shahan's theme.  The membership wager with the State Commander was a fulfillment of the year with the presentation of a pair of Love Birds as a gift for winning the wager.  Many amusing things happened as President Shahan traveled Kansas including getting lost just 80 miles from home due to a dense fog that covered the area.  She recalled while traveling the secretary was depending on the CB radio to keep track of the "Bears" (Highway Patrol) only to discover the CB radio was turned off and in the suitcase instead!  How embarrassing to be standing a the podium and just go "blank," but with a laugh and a smile, President Shahan recovered to ask for the vote of "Aye" or "Nye" in the nick of time!  Recalling her year as very successful and wonderful, Mary mentioned she would have to write a book to document all of the unforgettable events that occurred during her year of love.  Mary Shahan passed away on December 23, 1996.

1977-1978
Mrs. Elsie Hemphill
Lawrence, Kansas

Using "New Heights Through Friendship" as her theme for the year and "Golden Chain" as her symbol, Mrs. Elsie Hemphill was elected the 57th Department President for the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Kansas on June 26, 1977 in Overland Park.  President Hemphill traveled extensively and attended many activities including orientations at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center, homecoming events and national convention held in Denver, Colorado.  Active in promoting membership, Kansas won the membership challenges between Missouri and Michigan and got the membership year off to a positive start.  President Hemphill joined Past National President Dora Seymour and her husband along with Past Department President Virginia Lane and husband Grant at the National President Vi Moltzen's Homecoming in  Bismarck, North Dakota where they enjoyed great hospitality from the Legion Family in North Dakota.  In addition to attending "Coffee Tours" and the annual holiday gift shops, President Hemphill remained active in Sunflower Girls State and returned to Kansas in time to honor 1977 Girls State Governor Barbara Bichelmeyer and Boys State Governor Douglas Dodd at the Shawnee post.  She recalled excitement when Miss Department Poppy Kimberly Phillips presented a veteran made poppy to Governor Bennett as he proclaimed May as Poppy Month.  April was a busy month as President Hemphill attended all district conventions and laid a memorial wreath a the fifth annual Harry S. Truman Pilgrimage in Independence, MO.  It was a successful year of service as the year concluded at the annual Department Convention held in Topeka, KS.  A proud member of the 8 and 40 and Past National Chapeau, Elsie Hemphill passed away on August 23, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  She is remembered as a dedicated member and loyal friend to her unit Dorsey Liberty Unit #14 of Lawrence, Kansas.

1978-1979
Mrs. Rebekah Wasson
Topeka, Kansas

Having only been a member of the Department of Kansas for five years, Mrs. Rebecca Wasson, a native of North Carolina, was installed as the 58th Department President of the Department of Kansas. Having previously served as District President in the Department of South Carolina and later many offices and chairmanships in both the Departments of South Carolina and North Carolina, Mrs. Wasson was well-qualified for the role.  It was a special moment when President Wasson's children and grandchildren were flown in to attend her Homecoming hosted by Capitol Post #1 of Topeka.  During her year of service, many units were visited and new friends were made as she became acquainted with many members across Kansas and at the grassroots level. She recalled these times as the "most memorable period of her life" and "friendships that will last forever." An active advocate for Sunflower Girls State and Past Director of the program,  Rebekah (Becky) Wasson passed away on February 19, 2011 and is buried in her native state of North Carolina.  She was a lifetime member of Topeka Capitol Unit #1 and remained active in the American Legion Auxiliary until her death.

 

 

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