PAST DEPARTMENT PRESIDENTS: 1921-1929
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1921-1922
Winifred Calihan
Garden City, Kansas

National Vice President 1923-1924

Winifred Hamilton Calihan was born at Topeka, Kansas, April 23, 1897.  The daughter of Thomas H. and Alpha Aiken Hamilton and the granddaughter of Icahabod Aiken of Virginia and William H. Hamilton of Kentucky both veterans of the Civil War.  Her early childhood was passed on a ranch in Morris County, but at twelve years of age she returned to Topeka to enter high school.  In December 1917, she married Roy Hile Calihan of Topeka who saw 11 months overseas service with the 353rd Field Signal Battalion.  Mr. Calihan returned to civil life late in the year 1919, at which time the family moved to Garden City, Kansas to establish residence.   In October 1920, a unit of The American Legion Auxiliary was chartered at Garden City with Mrs. Calihan serving as its first secretary.  In January of 1921 she was elected Department President at the first state convention.  During this year, with the invaluable assistance of an enthusiastic executive committee, Mrs. Calihan was able to extend the organization, establish definite fields of endeavor and lines of contact and to inaugurate in Kansas a system of welfare and relief work among the returning service members that was later adopted by the national organization.  Following her administration as Department President, Mrs. Calihan became the National Committeewoman for the American Legion Auxiliary representing Kansas and in 1923-1924 served as National Vice President.  At the completion of her term as National Vice President, she was named chairman of the National Child Welfare Committee and appointed to membership on the Legionville Billet Board.  She served on the Legionville Board until failing health forced her to abandon all public activity.

1922-1923
Rose Cravens
Russell, Kansas

Mrs. Rose Cravens was elected second department president at Salina in 1922.  During her administration, membership was stressed and resulted in the greatest enrollment in the state since its organization.  Hospital and welfare work was carried out in a very significant way and the value of enhanced publicity was given heightened attention.  Cookie jars were installed in hospital number 67 at Leavenworth and 125 units made monthly shipments of cookies to keep them stocked.  Poppy work was developed according to plans carried out by the Department of Minnesota.  The poppies were made by disabled soldiers and resulted in giving them financial support, as well as a means of passing time while in the hospital environment.  Mrs. Cravens was assisted by an efficient executive committee and reported a very successful year working on behalf of the hospitalized soldiers and their families. 

1923-1924
Mrs. George E. Norris
Arkansas City, Kansas

Mrs. George E. Norris, third president of the Department of Kansas was a native Kansan and was educated in the elementary schools of Colorado and the higher institutions of learning in Kansas.  Named by The American Legion to assist in organizing the Department of Kansas, she served as the first legislative chairman, and assisted in the work for compensation and other legislation.  During her year as Department President much cooperative and extension work was featured while the department affiliated with the "Kansas Council of Women."  Two new associations were formed: Societe des Huit Chapeaux et Quarante Femmes and the Past Presidents Parley.  Mrs. Norris, with the aid of other members on the national committee, inaugurated a system of unit activity programs that was later adopted by the national organization.  Special effort was made to assist the American War Mothers in locating the Kansas mother from whose home war took the greatest toll.  Aggressive welfare work was done on behalf of soldiers and nurses at Fort Bayard.  Mrs. Norris represented the Department at the dedication of the world's greatest memorial to the soldiers at the time - the Victory Highway.  During her administration the first money for the Independence Billet, $18.000 was raised.  She twice represented the Women's Patriotic Conference on National Defense at Washington, D.C.  Mrs. Norris additionally served Kansas as National Committeewoman, member of Kansas Council of Women, American War Mothers, Vice President of the Women's Kansas Day Club and chairman of the Kansas Women's Pioneer Memorial Association.

1924-1925
Dr. Grace Tinney
Norton, Kansas

Dr. Grace Tinney of Norton, Kansas was the fourth president of the Kansas American Legion Auxiliary and was eligible for membership through the service of her husband Dr. Ray Tinney.  Grace's years as President were very successful and she is especially remembered for her work with the membership and poppy programs.  It is believed that Norton is the birthplace of the Poppy Day in Kansas due in great part to Dr. Tinney's work at the Norton State Sanatorium.  The manufacture of poppies in Kansas began in the Norton sanatorium, where veterans cut crepe paper to construct the memorial flower.  Each veteran was paid $.04 each to construct a poppy. During Dr. Tinney's administration as Department President the plan was changed to conform to the national program and materials were purchased from the national office.  The department funds were not sufficient to cover the cost of the program.  With $1,000 borrowed from the Legion and a $3,000 loan made personally by Dr. Tinney the work continued.  Regardless of Dr. Tinney's assertions that a well-organized committee could do more than a one person committee, she decided to carry on alone because she wanted no one at fault if the project was not a success.  Dr. Tinney was so successful that she was able to create a revolving fund which finally made it possible to finance the poppy project entirely from department funds.  Dr. Tinney was chairman of the delegation to the Fourth National Convention held in St. Paul, Minnesota and remained active in the American Legion Auxiliary until the time of her death.  Dr. Grace Tinney passed away in December 1933.

1925-1926
Bertha Lawrence
Hiawatha, Kansas

Mrs. Bertha Lawrence was the fifth president of the Department of Kansas having been elected at the Convention held in Independence, Kansas in 1925.  Mrs. Lawrence derived her eligibility through her husband's service in World War I.  During her presidency, 15 new units were organized and the membership increased to more than 10,000 by the time of the national convention in Philadelphia, PA.  Additionally, the Legionville Billet was completed and dedicated, over one million poppies were made and sold through the efforts of the poppy committee, social and relief work was conducted among the disabled in the hospitals and Christmas boxes and cash presents were distributed. Special gifts were sent to the Kansas disabled ex-service men and the disabled nurses at Fort Bayard were bountifully showered with gifts and attention.  During Mrs. Lawrence's administration, the Department's monthly publication was initiated and the circulation extended to more than 1,000 members.  Membership was stressed which resulted in the second largest membership growth in the history of the Department.  Mrs. Lawrence served the Department as National Committeewoman and was assigned to the Legionville Billet Board.  In addition to this work, she was a past Le Chapeau Departemental and Le Demi Chapeau of the National 8 and 40. 

1926-1927
Estelle Palmer
Kingman, Kansas

As a native Kansan, Estelle Gates Palmer was an outstanding leader with a patriotic spirit.  Better known as "Essie," she was born February 11, 1870 on her grandparent's farm in Miami County, Kansas.  In 1885, the Gates family moved to Wichita, Kansas and then to Kingman, Kansas in 1886 where they worked for the Kingman Leader.  She married Edward A Palmer in 1892 and become the parents of two sons.  As a leading Kingman citizen, Essie was involved in many school, church and civic activities and through her endeavors organized American Legion Auxiliary Unit #24 in Kingman in 1920. In 1927, as Department President she represented the Kansas units at the National Convention in Paris, France.  Essie's son Paul served in WWI with the U.S. Army.  Due to her kind attention and effort to the mission of The American Legion, she was affectionately known as "Mother Essie" in the American Legion and Auxiliary circles.  She served as Historian for several terms and remained active until ill health forced her retirement from public life.  Knitting and sewing for the service men and the Red Cross were of special interest to her and she continued to involve herself in these projects until no longer able to contribute. She was the first Kansas member of the Eight and Forty and is remembered for being an instrumental leader in the organization.  Essie Palmer passed away on July 9, 1957.

1927-1928
Mrs. H.W. Brewer
Manhattan, Kansas

Mrs. H.W. Brewer of Manhattan was elected to serve as the President of the Department of Kansas at the 7th Annual Department Convention held on June 8-9, 1927 at Wichita, KS.  Mrs. Brewer was a charter member of Manhattan Unit #17 and served as Fourth District President, Department Vice President and Membership Chairman.  As Department President, she visited hospitals in neighboring states where many Kansas veterans were staying. the Defense Conference was called by the American Legion Auxiliary with the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The American Legion Auxiliary worked to support all organizations that helped veterans so this relationship offered a cooperation of working together for a common goal.  The 1928 Poppy program was most successful with 213 orders totaling 169,650 poppies, exceeding the former record by 20,000 poppies.  Ten percent of the money raised was used to furnish the Legionville Billet.

1928-1929
Mrs. Etta Wycoff
Garnett, Kansas

Etta Jane Wycoff was born in Fair Play, Missouri and lived her young life in and around the midwest.  At the age of 15, she moved to Gridley, Kansas and attended Emporia State Teachers College where she met and married Dick Wycoff, a teacher and coach from Garnett where they later settled.  Her greatest joy was doing work that could be of help to others.  After becoming a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary, she devoted much of her interest to every facet of the organization.  Etta Wycoff passed away on July 14, 1963 in Kearney, Nebraska.

 

 

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