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Ethel Peterson

Ethel invites you to read her words here.

Ethel Peterson is a native Kansan, the sixth of seven kids born to Henry and Myrtle Peterson. Myrtle began life on the banks of the Sawlog Creek in Ford County, Kansas. Her father, Henry, was born in Denmark. Ethel sees herself as part of a vanishing breed who actually attended a one-room country school for eight years.

Ethel finished high school and junior college in Dodge City, and received both her Bachelor's and Masters from Fort Hays State University. She also achieved post graduate hours at CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado, and "other places here and there."

Ethel started teaching school with a sixty-hour certificate and spent the first five years of her teaching career going to college on nights, weekends and summers to finish her degree. She taught in Kansas at Kismet and Dodge City for a total of 21 years. Then, she got her counseling certification and became a school counselor for the next 18 years in Dodge City.

When she retired from the public schools, Ethel signed on at Kansas Newman University, a Catholic College, at their Western Kansas Center. The office was in Dodge City, and it served Garden City, Liberal, Dodge and the Southwest corner of Kansas. She was the coordinator of teacher education, taught education courses and supervised student teachers. That was a great job for her and she stayed there two and a half years.

Ethel ran for and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. She was re-elected three times, serving seven years before retiring again. Ethel spent five of my seven years on the House Committee on Education, and all seven on the Tourism Committee (a natural when you represent Dodge City). In 2005, Ethel was elected to the Board of Education in Dodge and finished her term in 2009, without running again.

Apart from her long career in public service, Ethel is also an avid baseball fan, particularly of the St. Louis Cardinals. She watches their games in person whenever she can, otherwise on TV and radio. Ethel loves to discuss them with other Card fans, since as she says, "We are a "different breed of cat and recognize each other everywhere."

Ethel is a "joiner" and has spent lots of time volunteering, most of her life. She was very active in NEA from the early 60's to the early 90's. She served 12 years on the Kansas NEA Board and 6 on the National. She tells us that "In the day, I was known by my friends as a rabble-rouser, and probably by my foes as a hell-raiser or trouble-maker. Those were tumultuous days during the sixties and seventies, and I am proud of the changes we evoked in the teaching profession at that time."

Ethel's hero is Marian Wright Edelman, who founded the Children's Defense Council and wrote "What We Owe Children." She wrote that "service is the rent we pay for living." Ethel adds, "And I like to keep my rent paid and I try to live by that."

Ethel is very active Democrat with experience on the Kansas State Committee and Kansas First District Committee. She also served, for ten years or so, as the chair of the Ford County Democrats, and attended the 1992 National Convention when Democrats nominated Bill Clinton the first time.

She loves to tell jokes and she tells them well. Ethel believes laughter is good for the soul.

What a delightful citizen and dedicated public servant she has been in Kansas! We're thrilled that Ethel has joined our band of citizen journalists. She welcomes you to view her complete historical archives.

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