PAST DEPARTMENT PRESIDENTS: 2000-2009
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1999-2000
Mrs. Judy Nielsen
Herrington, Kansas

The new millennium got started off with a bang in the Department of Kansas as Judy Nielsen of Herrington, Kansas took the oath of office from Past National Chaplain and Past Department President Betty Jones on May 16, 1999 in Topeka.  The National 1999-2000 membership theme was "The New Threshold 2000" (TNT 2000) and in honor of the National President's theme "Celebrate America," President Nielsen chose "Celebrate America, the Old Fashioned Way" as her rally call to the members of Kansas.  The President's special project for the year was the sale of custom lapel pins to help support the Central Division National Vice President's hospitality requirements for her anticipated year of service in 2000-2001 (Lois Icenogle).  It was an exciting year as President Nielsen jumped in to serve as Official Hostess to Sunflower Girls State followed by attendance at a special ceremony on June 14 (Flag Day) as Sons of The American Legion National Commander Byron Robicaux dedicated the 33" Bronze emblem of The Sons of The American Legion at the Department Headquarters Building.  A special honor was playing in the Legion-Auxiliary Mixed Golf Tournament in Junction City with President Nielsen a member of the first place team.  National Convention in Anaheim, California followed with the Kansas Delegation staying at the Disneyland Hotel.  Manhattan was the host for Fall Conference with Central Division Vice President Diane Duscheck from Wisconsin the special honored distinguished guest. Auxiliary sponsored gift shops were a complete success as was the annual Mid Winter Forum held in Arkansas City.  A highlight of the year was representing Kansas at the annual Lincoln Pilgrimage in Springfield, IL and attending the state Oratorical Contest held on March 4th in Topeka.  Lots of American Legion Birthday parties were attended and President Nielsen joined the teams in the second, third, fifth and sixth districts for their conventions.  Regretfully the sad news for the year was defeat of the amendment to protect the Flag by a vote of 63 to 37.  Sadly Judy Nielsen was killed while serving as NEC on November 1, 2000 in an automobile accident returning from an Auxiliary event. 

2000-2001
Mrs. Bonnie Boyer
Overland Park, Kansas

It was "Back to Basics" for the Department of Kansas as Bonnie Boyer of Overland Park stepped forward to lead the more than 20,000 members in the Department to new success on behalf of God and Country.  President Boyer, a long time participant and supporter of Sunflower Girls State, enjoyed attending the event as President in June 2000.  Urging members to learn and grow through participation in this flagship program, she shared that the "long hours and miles of walking" are well-worth the effort to help instill the ideals of citizenship in young americans. President Boyer encouraged activism in the legislative program and demonstrated by doing with a an August meeting with Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh for the purpose of encouraging voters to go to the poles in support of the "Honor A Vet-Vote."  Gardner and Winfield units received special citations for their outstanding efforts.  It was a special and fun time at the annual fall conference where Central Division National Vice President Lois Icenogle served as MC at the skit held on Saturday night.  The special performance, "Seven Old Ladies Locked in the Lavatory" was a huge success.  In support of the fun and fellowship, donations were collected in support of the National President's Project - the Veterans Creative Arts Festival.   November was all about "Veterans Day" and President Boyer enjoyed several activities in addition to riding in the annual Veterans Day Parade in Leavenworth.  It was fun for all as President Boyer and VAVS Representative and Past Department President Ann Lutjen journeyed to Winfield to visit the new Winfield Solders Home.  A highlight of the trip was the accommodations  at the "Hobble Hotel" residence of Past Department President Geraldine Hobble.  Auxiliary Gift Shops were especially successful as the new Winfield facility was added to the existing four facilities.  President Boyer toured with VA&R Chairman Lupe Lamas, and again the Hobble Hotel was reserved for the team!  Sad news for the year was the passing of Past National President Dora Seymour.  Mid Winter Forum in Overland Park led to the Lincoln Pilgrimage in Illinois and then birthday parties and District Conventions.  Another Junior Convention in Newton revealed talented and committed young people in the Department's Junior Activities program.  The 2000-2001 year concluded with Department Convention in Topeka and much accomplished on behalf of those served.  Later reflecting on her year, Bonnie shared if she could use only one word to describe her year it would be "People." Bonnie Boyer continues to participate in activities at the unit and department level and remains an active volunteer at Sunflower Girls State.

2001-2002
Ms. Beulah Taylor
Topeka, Kansas

Fun, committed and determined describes the 81st President of the Department of Kansas as she repeated the oath of office given by good friend and Central Division National Vice President Lois Icenogle.  Upon conclusion of convention, Beulah fondly remembers, "loading up her belongs, heading home with papers and books of auxiliary matters, a bouquet of red roses and a suitcase of laundry."  In addition to traditional matters of serving at girls state and an outstanding homecoming event in Topeka, President Taylor got the year started off with a "Rap Session" held in July to help chairmen and members get a head start on their duties for the year.  Once again it was excitement whenever President Taylor was around as the first order of duty at national convention in San Antonio was a fall - flat and hard.  Fortunately nothing broken and all was well in the great state of Texas and concluded in a positive way.  Salina was the site for the annual Fall Conference with much work (and fun) accomplished.  In support of the national theme, "Believe in Magic," skits were presented and a real magician entertained for all to enjoy.  The membership theme developed by Vice President Laura Christensen, "Make Members Appear As If By Magic" encouraged each member to reach out and find new members everywhere.  President Beulah attended the National President's homecoming in Iowa, enjoyed fun and fellowship at all the holiday gift shops and made an important decision to cancel Mid Winter Forum due to weather.  As she shared, "I did not want one Auxiliary member - Senior or Junior - to be killed or hurt trying to attend a meeting. Every member is precious to me."  It was a busy winter and spring as President Taylor attended the National Awareness Assembly, and Region VI conference in Sioux City, Iowa.  As the administrative year concluded, the President of the Sunflower State reminded the membership, "World events such as 9/11 have indicated to us we cannot fall behind.  What I am trying to say is you do not wear the same shoes for 25 years, or still drive a Model T, so by the same token our Auxiliary needs to move forward (I did not say fast forward) and adopt new ideas."  Beulah Taylor remains active in the American Legion Auxiliary with her no-nonsense approach to tasks at hand.  As she often reminds members...it is important to, "Stand Up, Speak Up, Shut Up, Sit Down." Always the life of the party and a friend to all, Beulah Taylor lives quietly in Topeka, Kansas and remains committed to the ideas of the American Legion Auxiliary and our country's veterans.

2002-2003
Mrs. Laura Christensen
Concordia, Kansas

Mrs. Laura Christensen of Concordia Unit #76 became the 82nd President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas on May 19, 2002 at the annual Department Convention held in Great Bend.  She chose "Unity, Compromise & Tolerance" as her theme and followed this with "The Serenity Prayer" to help guide Kansas in thought and deed for the year.  As she promoted "Unity" within the American Legion family, she encouraged Post and Unit members to work together, form teams, hold contests, offer prizes and strive for one new Auxiliary member for each Legionnaire.  She suggested fun projects, advocated games and drawings and helped raise Kansas to new heights with effective speakers and mission-focused projects.  President Christensen advocated members to keep positive in their attitude and action for the purpose of letting follow citizens and communities know the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary and why its membership is vital in support of military service members and their families. Focus was given to scholarships, Girls State, Oratorical programs and fire safety and members donated flags, supported the troops through care packages, helped neighbors at Christmas and adopted families whose members were serving overseas.  Many yellow ribbons were seen across Kansas, Blue Star and Gold Star banners were donated and letters were written to legislators in support of veterans' issues.  As President, Mrs. Christensen represented Kansas out of state by attending National Convention in North Carolina, President and Secretaries Conference in Indianapolis, the Lincoln Pilgrimage in Illinois, Awareness Assembly in Washington, President Elsie Bailey's homecoming in New Jersey and the Truman Pilgrimage in Missouri.  Along with the VA&R Chairman, all three VA Hospitals and two Soldier's Homes were visited during Christmas Gift Shop. A special memory was attending the Wichita VA for the renaming ceremony and at Pratt for a B-29 veterans memorial dedication.  President Christensen remembered the highlight of her year was the National President's visit to Kansas, January 12-16, 2003.  Along with the Kansas team, National President Bailey visited nine towns along with Department Headquarters, met over 500 Legion Family members and traveled over 1,000 miles of Kansas roads.  Laura Christensen remains active in the American Legion Auxiliary at the unit, district and department levels.  She and her husband Damon, an active Legionnaire live in Concordia, Kansas.

2003-2004
Mrs. Ruth Dirreen
Hutchinson, Kansas

It was an exciting time in Topeka when on May 18, 2003 Ruth Dirreen of Hutchinson was installed by Past Department President Ann Lutjen as the 83rd President of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Kansas.  Getting the new year off on the right foot, President Dirreen held an informative informative Executive Board Meeting for the purpose of addressing unresolved issues and opening dialogue for the purpose of mutual understanding.  Attending the opening of the Robert J. Dole Center on the University of Kansas was a special moment and highlight of the year along with attending the homecoming of Honorary National Junior American Legion Auxiliary President Ashley Miller in Newton.  Continuing to be innovative in approach and action, the annual Fall Conference held in Salina offered a different format to allow members more input and increased involvement by both chairmen and attendees.  Special honored guest was Jeannie Carson, Central Division National Vice President from Iowa.  Although the ALVA Tour (American Legion Veterans Administration) formerly known as the "Coffee Tour" was later in the year, President Dirreen attended and enjoyed conversing with many grassroots members on the extended stops.  President Dirreen attended the Presidents and Secretaries Conference in Indianapolis and together will husband Bill journeyed to Texas for the National Joint Homecoming for Commander John Breiden and President Katherine Morris.  Kansas sadly said good bye to one of its own as Past Department President Valjean Depew as laid to rest on September 28, 2003.   The year concluded as President Dirreen attended the Oratorical Contest held in Topeka, the Awareness Assembly held in Washington, DC and many American Legion birthday events and activities, along with district conventions in the second, fourth, seventh and eighth districts.  Ruth Dirreen passed away on December 14, 2004 as she was serving as NEC.

2004-2005
Mrs. Beulah Shafer
Winfield, Kansas

"Catch the Freedom Wave" was the national theme as Mrs. Beulah Shafer became the 84th President of the American Legion Auxiliary on May 16, 2004. Getting down to work at Sunflower Girls State was first on the agenda as President Shafer worked in the newsroom in addition to serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Inauguration of the Governor and other leaders.  She followed this activity with attendance at La Marche in McPherson and a Flag Disposal ceremony held at the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield. Homecomings for Commander Hill in Dodge City and her home unit in Winfield along with National Convention in Nashville completed summer 2004 activities.  Fall activities included attendance at the Presidents and Secretaries conference in Indianapolis and Eisenhower Pilgrimage in Abilene along with the dedication of the Kansas Veterans Cemetery in Winfield.  President Shafer completed her year of service with attendance at holiday gift shops, a visit to Washington DC for the Awareness Assembly and district conventions.  Throughout her year, she remained active as a Deputy VAVS Representative at the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield.  Beulah Shafer lives in Winfield, Kansas and remains active in American Legion Auxiliary activities.

National Theme: "Catch the Wave"

Department of Kansas Theme: "Catch the Freedom Wave"

National Membership Theme: "Bases Loaded"

Department of Kansas Membership Theme: "Kansas ALA All-Stars Invite You to Join our Team"

2005-2006
Mrs. Norma Swanson
Gardner, Kansas

National Vice President 2009-2010

It was a proud moment for Gardner Unit #19 as their candidate for Department President was nominated, elected and installed as the 85th President for the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Kansas.  A highlight of the year was the joint American Legion Family homecoming held in Olathe for Department Commander Ernie Cooper and President Swanson.  The special project for the year was the Children's Miracle Network.  Donations were encouraged for drawings that were held throughout the year in support of an active fundraising effort and nearly $2,000 was raised.  Attending National Convention in Hawaii was next on the agenda and the delegation enjoyed a fun and informative convention in the island paradise.  Fall Conference and Eisenhower Pilgrimage were well attended with members renewing their commitment to the American Legion Auxiliary, its mission and ideals by supporting President Swanson at these core department activities.  A highlight of the year was attendance at the five auxiliary gift shops in support of veterans and their families.  President Swanson remarked, "So many ladies worked to help the veterans shop for their families...so many people wrapped and shipped the gifts.  Each gift shop was handled a little differently, but they all had the same purpose - to help veterans and their families."  Kansas hosted National President Carol Van Kirk on a 40-hour whirlwind tour of Kansas that included stops and visitations at Leavenworth, Department Headquarters, Wichita and three VA hospitals.  As she concluded her year, President Swanson attended conventions in third, first, sixth and fourth districts and enjoyed an excellent Department Convention held in Great Bend.  Norma Swanson passed away on January 7, 2014.

National Theme: "Celebrate Freedom"

Department of Kansas Theme: "Thanks to our Veterans, Freedom Rings in Kansas"

National Membership Theme: "Strike Up the Band"

Department of Kansas Membership Theme: "Kansas Marching Band"

2006-2007
Mrs. Gwen Trost
Concordia, Kansas

Concordia Unit #76 placed the name of Gwen Trost in nomination for Department President at the 2006 Department of Kansas Convention held in Great Bend.  Traditional summer activities included attendance at Sunflower Girls State and a joint American Legion Family homecoming for Department Commander Pat Culver, SAL Commander Jamie Burton and President Trost.  National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah was exciting and memorable as President Trost officially took the oath of office and became installed as the 86th Department President of Kansas.  A mission for the year was to encourage more meetings in the Department to allow members to come together in support of programs and activities.  Under President Trost a renewed interest in the Auxiliary meeting during The American Legion's Mid Winter Forum was revisited and a meeting was held during this conference for the first time in several years.  This participation has continued and remains a core meeting for the Auxiliary in Kansas.  Additionally meetings were held in McPherson (Fall Conference) enabling the opportunity for Auxiliary members to meet in the fall, winter and spring in support of better communication and to enhance dialogue and conversation among leaders and grassroots members.  An honor for President Trost was serving on the judging panel for legislator Jerry Moran's military scholarships.  Remaining in touch with the Department Office, President Trost visited diligently at least once per month to support the office staff in their duties and remain active with the daily operations of the department.  She attended the Legislative Party in Topeka, traveled to the Awareness Assembly and welcomed National President JoAnn Cronin for her official visit to Kansas where she was escorted by Legion Riders to the post home at Overland Park.  Gwen Trost concluded a very successful year for God and Country at the 87th Department of Kansas Convention held in Topeka.  She lives in Concordia, Kansas and is an active and dedicated member to her unit, district and department.

National Theme: "We Can Do It"

Department of Kansas Theme: "Working Together We Can All Be a Star"

National Membership Theme: "Shoot for the Stars, the Sky's the Limit"

Department of Kansas Membership Theme: "Aim High-Kansas Sunflowers Reach for the Stars!"

2007-2008
Ms. LaVeta Miller
Larned, Kansas

"Soaring with American Legion Family Spirit=Freedom for Veterans, Children and Community" was the theme chosen by LaVeta Miller of Larned as she accepted the nomination to serve as Department President for the 2007-2008 administrative year.  Membership was stressed as a primary focus and under strong guidance, two new units were chartered, Lansing Unit #411 and Marion Unit #22.  Following Memorial Day ceremonies, President Miller spent the week at Sunflower Girls State working in the Press Room before addressing the VFW Auxiliary Convention held in Topeka to encourage teamwork and a positive working alliance between the two organizations.  Under President Miller, the Department of Kansas website at www.kslegionaux.org was launched representing an opportunity to use technology to enhance communication.  Much travel occurred and many meetings were attended in support of the American Legion Auxiliary and its mission.  In addition to district conventions and American Legion birthday parties, President Miller attended Presidents and Secretaries Conference, the national Children and Youth Conference, a strategic planning workshop at the Awareness Assembly in Washington and National Convention in Phoenix.  Central Division National Vice President Shirley Jones was the special honored guest at September's Fall Conference in Salina and National President Jan Pulvermacher-Ryan made her official visit during the Mid Winter Forum in Leavenworth. 

National Theme: "Forward Thinking - A Ripple Today, A Wave Tomorrow"

Department of Kansas Theme: "Soaring with American Legion Family Spirit=Freedom for Veterans, Children and Community"

National Membership Theme: "ALA Team Spirit"

Department of Kansas Membership Theme: "Teamwork Today - Winners Tomorrow - Kansas Sunflowers Turn Up the Heat on Membership

2008-2009
Mrs. Myrna Rogers
Augusta, Kansas

Leonard Whitehill Unit #189 of Augusta presented their candidate Mrs. Myrna Rogers at the 88th session of the annual Department Convention convened at Great Bend on Sunday, May 18, 2008 for the position of Department President.  The first woman from the Augusta unit to serve in this capacity, Mrs. Rogers set the tone for the year with her theme "Unity and Service for God and Country."  In support of the conscientious efforts for membership, Kansas welcomed one new unit Maize #419 to the American Legion Auxiliary family during the administrative year.  Great attention was placed on core American Legion Auxiliary programs with nearly $55,000 in contributions given and more than 6,797 children served in the Children and Youth program and more than $72,000 donated and 132,427 hours contributed in Community Service.  Kansas Auxiliary members continued their spirit of giving by documenting more than 1,900 volunteers engaged in more than 17,490 hours of service and $188,000 donated in support of the VA&R program throughout the state. Whether it was an active Public Relations presence where a workshop was given on the importance of positive PR in all activities or encouraging a committed focus on the legislative efforts of The American Legion, President Rogers was diligent and dedicated in her responsibility to the members in Kansas. American Legion Auxiliary National President Desiree Stoy of Oho was the special honored guest at the annual Mid Winter Forum which was held during a beautiful and warm weekend in Hays, Kansas during the month of February.  President Rogers traveled extensively both inside and outside Kansas' borders in support of the American Legion Auxiliary initiatives and on behalf of God and Country.  A special project included coordinating and attending deployment events, welcome home parties and supporting the efforts of the Patriot Guard to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans in Kansas.  Myrna Rogers lives in Augusta and remains active in the American Legion Auxiliary at the unit, district and department levels.

National Theme: "HOPE-Honoring Our Promise Every Day"

Department of Kansas Theme: "Unity and Service for God and Country"

National Membership Theme: "Get on the Membership Train"

Department of Kansas Membership Theme: "All Aboard the U&S Unlimited"

 

 

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