Corresponding Secretary General Introduction

Written by: Kathryn West, Corresponding Secretary General
August 6, 2019

It’s an exciting time to be a member of the DAR, and, as you might suspect, I am thrilled to be your Corresponding Secretary General in the Rise and Shine for America administration under the leadership of President General Denise Doring VanBuren. 

Kansas Daughters know my history – especially my history of how I came to be in the DAR.  I had driven to see my parents and my Mom, Doris, greeted me with a pen in her hand and said: “sign here.”  That was the extent of the work I had to do in order become a Daughter, and I am thankful every day that she and I joined together.  Now, we also have my niece, Jenae’, in DAR, so we are officially a three-generation DAR family.  Sadly, my mother now suffers from dementia and even though we don’t have the same conversations about life and DAR, I believe that she knows that I am happy and productive.  

I grew up in an Army family and had the good fortune of spending many years in Leavenworth, Kansas, while my father, Jack, served at Fort Leavenworth.  I graduated from Kansas State University and received my Regular Army commission as a Second Lieutenant from the ROTC program.  I returned stateside from my tour in Germany and eventually was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, where I met and married Lt. Colonel Ollie West. I separated from the U.S. Army and went to work in the private sector.  Ollie and I were living in Atlanta, Georgia, and I felt a calling to come home to Leavenworth.  Once here, we bought an old building in our downtown, rehabilitated it, and then without any retail experience, opened a kitchenware retail store that we tripled in size in 2017.

I didn’t know anything about DAR until the day I signed those papers.  That was over 31 years ago, and I’ve learned a lot since then.  In those early years I didn’t have “girlfriends,” as I worked long hours establishing my career.  Paging as a Junior became my first avenue for girlfriends, and I am blessed to have strong bonds today with those same ladies.  The supportive members of my Captain Jesse Leavenworth Chapter have encouraged me, forgiven my failures and picked me up to get me going again when necessary.

In the process of preparing for this new responsibility, I thought about the strengths of the National Society.  Our strengths are numerous with the primary one being our members.  As a multi-generational volunteer organization, we can sustain ourselves.  We are an organization with clear guiding principles of purpose that are showcased at the highest levels of our Society and by chapters and individual members.  We are welcoming of all who aspire to work toward historic preservation, education and patriotism. 

These strengths are important as we complete the President General’s Project – DAR Constitution Hall: the Next Act, and as we anticipate growth in membership to 200,000 as we near the 250th birthday of our beloved Nation. We have what it takes to support these milestones: organizational structure - one developed and matured through the years; fiscal soundness, as demonstrated by our positive history of giving to support our mission; and the boots on the ground in our communities thanks to active and committed chapters.

My primary responsibility is centered around The DAR Store, and I encourage you to use it to obtain your chapter supplies and gifts for family and friends knowing that your purchases help to financially support our National Society.  I will continue to serve on the Insignia Task Force to establish the new DAR Insignia Store. I am honored to be the Executive Liaison to five national committees: DAR Project Patriot, Stephanie Wolfley, National Chair; DAR Service to Veterans, Kristine Wood, National Chair; Development, Pamela Alvich, National Chair; President General’s Project, Patrice Birner, National Chair; and The Flag of the United States of America, Marquerite Fritsch, National Chair.

It is a privilege to serve you these next three years.  It comes with immense responsibility that I do not take lightly.  I pray that I can be a positive resource for The DAR Store, my committees and all members. When I think about all the courtesies and help I received over the years, it makes me think of my Mom, knowing that if she could, would ask, “to whom will you hand the pen and say, sign here?”

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Historic Preservation,
Education, Patriotism

Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.