Past State Presidents
Lamplighters of the Kansas State Council 2000-2010
Connie Hoch 2000-2001
It is quite common to meet up with extraordinary people in ESA. Connie Hoch was truly one of these exceptional people. Her work in ESA was filled with joy and heartfelt giving to her sisters and those in need. Connie was always ready to make people happy and as such decided that she needed to add becoming a “professional” clown to her resume. This clown was named, “Pickles.” We are sure that Connie went to the head of the class and graduated with honors. Connie was taken from us suddenly and it broke our hearts to have to say goodbye. She gave true meaning to our pledge and the trail of joy she left behind will be a light for us to follow for a long time to come. Connie passed away suddenly in 2008 and was unable to add the "Cherished Memories" of her year, however these are Connie's comments on what ESA meant to her. Connie's gift to us will always be a "gift that keeps on giving."
What leadership in ESA has meant to me?
"Leadership is showing one's courage and ESA has given me the courage to take risks while surrounded by friends. My hope is that I have inspired and motivated others to follow their dreams and reach their goals. As we share the responsibilities, we have an organization that will be stronger and grow in the future." Connie Hoch
"ESA ...The Gift that keeps
Susan Winters 2001-2002
Susan winters went on to become the IC President in 2012-2013 with the theme of "ESA, It's Magic"
My theme for 2001-2002 was “ESA Magic in Motion.” Some of the things I remember most about the year begin with the candidates’ skit at the Mixer. I had solicited the help from Mike Wells (husband to Maureen Wells, State President 2003-2004) to teach all of my candidates a magic trick back in February prior to convention. Over all it went tremendously—almost everyone had a successful demonstration of their magic trick – only a minor glitch here and there and I think they all had a lot of fun with it and it was something very different from the usual skits.
All I can say about my installation ceremony was that it was “totally awesome”. I know that everyone thinks this is true about their own installations, and rightfully so, but I’ll bet not too many can past state presidents can boast that a real-life wizard made an appearance at their installation. My wizard was actually Kay Foster dressed up in a beautiful wizard costume that Joan Bourn had found. We used the wizard costume again at my state convention in Manhattan the following spring but alas, I am told that the costume was later destroyed in a fire. At least I have lots of pictures to remember it by. Joan Bourn and Donna Dawson created this beautiful ceremony for me.
I represented Kansas at the IC Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the greatest things about belonging to ESA is the places that it can take you. What other organizations host conventions in such beautiful locations as Australia, Memphis, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, San Antonio—“Oh, the places you will go!” I love seeing the sites of each and every convention city.
My President’s Challenge that year was to re-activate the ABC’s of ESA and spend some time volunteering in your local schools. One chapter in Wichita got involved in reading and providing books to their local school—it was a fun year for them and for the kids. Also, that year was the introduction of the 1st Annual Prom for the kids at Heartspring. Maureen Wells was 2nd Vice President and this was her beautiful idea—I just get the luxury of piggy-backing off the glory since it was instituted during my year as president. It was such a hit that it has become an annual event held during Parent’s Weekend at Heartspring. Most of these children would never have the opportunity to experience an event that most high school teenagers take for granted.
Three months of my presidency was spent in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the trauma center and rehab facility there while my daughter recovered from a serious auto accident in December. She was still in the hospital during the February state board meeting held in Olathe so I recruited some help from my family to stay with her while my husband and I traveled to Olathe for the first weekend away from the hospital in almost two months. I never left her side the entire time she was there so it was a much needed reprieve but difficult as well to leave her. Travel to KC from Lincoln actually took me through four states to reach my destination—Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas.
It was a great year that could have been overshadowed by tragedy but instead was one of great pride as my daughter served as my escort for installation of officers at convention in Manhattan in April. She had been out of the hospital for only two weeks and walked in with me—a feat we weren’t sure for awhile would be possible. Tears of joy still come to my eyes remembering that day! The thing I will cherish the most about this time in my life was the support I received from my ESA sisters across the nation. ESA is truly “Magic in Motion.”
Phyllis Wheaton 2002-2003
(Written by Clara Ginn- 2002-2003 Corresponding Secretary) Phyllis Wheaton is a real lady in every sense of the word. She served as the Kansas State President in 2002-2003 and her theme was “ESA….My Cup of Tea.” She implemented tea parties on Saturday nights of every state board meeting and everyone was invited to wear their pajamas and just come, share a cup of tea and have fun.
Phyllis was a fun loving person. To the delight of her audience, she could take a funny story and turn it into a hilarious adventure. She poked fun at herself and laughed right along with those who heard her stories, and she was loved by all. She drove her ‘Croanie Mobile’ and transported a full load to ESA sisters to events, and made the trip memorable and enjoyable with her shenanigans. There was always a lot of laughter and fun times shared.
She worked her way up to the president by chairing a lot of committees and offices. She was a philanthropic minded person who put her all into everything she did and was sometimes one of the biggest contributors for her special projects. Her membership theme was “ It only takes one to get one”, and she was always looking for new ESA members.
Shortly prior to her presidency Phyllis suffered a light stroke and required some help in carrying out her responsibilities, but she presided at all the meetings during her year as president and was able to let her joy in living be evident in all she did. One of her best memories of her presidency was when two of her five sons “roasted” her during her acceptance speech at convention and shared some of their special fun memories of their Mom. Her husband Bernard who was sight impaired attended her installation, and enjoyed every moment of her year, and really enjoyed all the hugs her sisters gave him. He was so proud of Phyllis and wished he had earlier understood just what ESA had meant to her and how much it had added to her life. He was adopted as a sister Croanie.
Shortly after her year of president, another stroke and the declining eyesight of Bernard forced them to move to a nursing home facility where they still reside. Both Phyllis and Bernard have fond memories of their ESA sisters and relish the visits and enjoy the stories that will never be forgotten.
Phyllis was a person who lived by the womanly virtues we talk about when the opening ritual is recited. Even though she is no longer able to actively take part in ESA events, she still holds the organization and its members close in her heart.
"ESA ...My Cup of Tea"
Maureen Wells 2003-2004
How has ESA built the leader in me!
"ESA has been a vital part of my life for the last 20 years. Thanks to the learning process of serving on various committees, then moving up to serve as chairman/president on the chapter, district and state level, my self-confidence grew, along with my abilities. The support and encouragement of my ESA sisters has helped me immensely, every step of the way!"
"Speaking in public will never be easy for me, but I’ve come a long way! It’s definitely a simpler task when you are passionate about your subject – for example, the kids of St. Jude, or any of our other philanthropic projects. When you speak from the heart, people can tell, and they are more likely to follow where you lead. When we encourage each other to take that next step, to continue to learn and to grow, knowing that you have your ESA sisters to lean on, everyone wins. We improve ourselves and the world we live in."
"If I had not been introduced to ESA and had the opportunity to attend leadership workshops at the IC level, I never would have had the courage, the confidence or the determination to tackle a project like ESA’s Holiday Hike for St. Jude. Again, it would not have been possible without the support of my ESA sisters."
"ESA has helped me create a patchwork of memories, full of love and laughter, and it has brought precious friends into my life that would never have been there, otherwise. I will always cherish both!"
"ESA ...The Colors of the Wind"
Charlotte Combs 2006-2007
"ESA - A Beacon of Hope"
The theme for 2006-2007 was “ESA … A Beacon of Hope”. My convention, “Anchors Away with ESA”, was held at the Marriott in Wichita April 27-29, 2007. My cherished memories from my year as president were taken from my closing remarks as president.
I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am to have served as the President of the Kansas State Council. ESA is a Beacon of Hope for those less fortunate and I was proud to call you my sisters.
This will be a year I will never forget. We started in August with our contributions to Goodwill Easter Seals and by honoring the men and woman serving our country with our Hope for Hero’s donations.
In November we had a great time at Heartspring rekindling our affection for the children and in January we acted silly for the ESA Foundation.
At the convention, we were moved once again by a family that knows first hand the heart-break of having a child diagnosed with cancer and the healing that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides not only to the children but emotional healing for the entire family.
Through all of the work we accomplished we also grew closer as a family. For what truly keeps us together is the life long friendships that we have with each other.
My President’s challenge was to support local schools and the Kansas membership embraced that in a big way. Our children are our future and we can make a difference in a child’s life.
One of my goals was to implement a State-wide Membership Plan. I encouraged the council to use this as we prepare for next year’s rush activities.
Epsilon Sigma Alpha is a precious organization that we must nurture to ensure its survival. I can’t imagine my life without ESA and I’m sure you can’t either. We must continue to spread the word and pledge new members.
In closing I would like to share this poem by Marion Guptill that I read in my acceptance speech for this is truly how I feel about you.
A poem submitted by Charlotte Combs
What is the worth of a friend?
If this were asked of me,
Warm thoughts of you would flood my heart,
And this my answer be –
A friend to me is many things;
No words express the worth
Of this rich gift that God bestows
To bless our walk on earth.
When disappointment’s shadow falls
On special times I’ve planned,
A friend will make the sun shine through
With just “I understand”
Not like a flickering candlelight,
But a steady, glowing flame,
Knowing my failings and my faults
Yet loving me just the same.
A friend is one who weeps with me;
And pleads my grief in prayer
And sings with me in happiness
When good fortune is my share.
And so each time that we two meet,
Although often but minutes we spend,
I thank God for giving me
The blessing of such friends.
Joy Thornburgh 2008-2009
Pat Josey 2009-2010
POWER OF THE DREAM
“Our ESA lives in America”
History of ESA and ESA in Kansas