Lillie Mae (Axtell) Washabaugh Wineberry Hamilton – 2001 Inductee

Lillie Mae (Axtell) Washabaugh Wineberry Hamilton was born January 12, 1925, in Beloit, Mitchell County, Kansas.  The daughter of Marion and Mary (Todd) Axtell, Lillie went to high school in Beloit.  She married John Washabaugh in 1942.  In 1944 Lillie received a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the State of Kansas College at Pittsburg, Kansas in 1945.  Lillie gradu­ated from Washburn Law School in Topeka, Kansas, in corporate law in 1948.   She had one year of mechanical engineering in 1950 from Kansas State College, Manhattan, Kansas, and studied public administration in 1956 at theUniversity ofKansas.

From 1942 to 1958, Lillie owned and operated the Natoma Publishing Company, publishing five weekly papers and doing commercial print­ing. From 1943 to 1964 she was co-owner and manager of the Washabaugh Drilling Service, drilling oil wells in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and South America.

On July 1, 1957, Lillie was appointed Kansas State Printer by then-Governor Robert Docking.  With her appointment Lillie achieved the following: the first female Democrat Party member inKansasstate history to ever hold public office; the first woman ever to hold the State Printer office; the only Democrat to ever hold the State Printer office; and at the time the only woman state printer in theUnited States.


 “For five days a week – Monday through Friday – she works in Topeka as state printer.

On Friday evening she flies or drives the 200 miles to her home at Natoma to hold justice of peace court Saturday morning and spend the remainder of the weekend working on her weekly newspaper.

Then it’s back to Topeka again . . . In November 1956 she was defeated in the polls for state printer, but was elected justice of the peace, of Natoma Township, Osborne County.  She previously had served two two-year terms as Natoma police judge but would not accept reappointment ‘be­cause I don’t believe in more than two terms in office.’

As justice of peace she limits herself to traffic cases.  No marriages.

There’s never been a Sat­urday morning when she didn’t have at least one case in court. One Satur­day she had 13 defendants before her. . .

She is tall and handsome—queenly without the aloofness of pride and position.  She is unselfconscious and completely altruistic, with a personality so vital that when she walks in to a room she takes possession of it. Her dark hair is combed back into a bun and forgotten about until time to comb it again.

Lillie was an accountant for the Union Pacific Railroad before her marriage.  She raises 300 baby chicks a season.

Lillie bought the newspaper in 1949 when it had 661 subscribers.  Over the years she has built that into 1800 subscribers.   She takes her own pictures.” – Taken from The Topeka Capital, July 16, 1957.


By George Mack

 “Mrs. Lillie Washabaugh, Kan­sas’ first woman state printer, is cleaning house at the state printing plant by selling surplus presses and machinery, and paper stocks.

She asked the state purchasing division Friday to sell the equipment and paper, which had an original inventory price of $58,254.50.

Mrs. Washabaugh, printer since July 1st, said that neither the machinery nor paper is any longer needed by the state plant.  The machinery includes two flat bed presses of the type many weekly newspapers use.  The paper, some of it bought as long ago as 1939, runs in various lots, ranging from a few sheets to sev­eral reams.

Also included are 112 rolls of paper delivered to the plant last month and ordered for a rotary press for which Mrs. Washabaugh has canceled the purchase order.  She canceled the order for the press after the time passed for the date of de­livery specified in the contract.

State Purchasing Director Henry H. Knouft said the ma­chinery and paper will be advertised for sale to the highest bid­der, in the usual manner followed by the state in making sales of items.

Mrs. Washabaugh said that in making her decision to sell the paper, which bad an original cost of $22,509.06, she went through job printing orders of the past year from various state agencies. She said she found that none of the paper stock she classified as surplus could be used for these jobs, so she decided that it would not be called into use the coming’ year.”

* * *

“The two big presses that she is offering for sale were bought in 1916 and 1924.  They were used for printing state textbooks when the textbooks printed on offset presses and, she said, the flatbeds have been standing idle for some time.

Also included in the machinery for sale are book-binding sewing machines, ruling machines, drills, motors, casting boxes, paper lifts and other items.  She said that two British-made sewing machines bought in 1950 and 19511 “never have been used—they’re both like new.”

The paper stock is in both white and colors in varying sizes and weights.

Mrs. Washabaugh said that state printery normally keeps a stock of $220,000 worth of paper on hand.  That which is left after the surplus items are sold, she said, will be readily usable on printing jobs ordered by various state agencies.”

* * *

“Sale of the equipment, she said, will make more room avail­able in the plant and the “money can be used to repair other equipment.”

She emphasized that by reduc­ing the inventory of paper and equipment she believes she cut the hourly cost of printing charged the state agencies.

When Mrs. Washabaugh, a Democrat, became printer July 1st she said she refigured the hourly coats for various printing pro­cedures used in the plant and followed in figuring jobs by Ferd Voiland, the Republican she suc­ceeded by appointment.  In some cases the hourly costs as she figured them were higher, in other lower, but she said that they averaged out to be lower.

In the past week, she said, she had discovered that she could re­duce most of the hourly cost figures by 25 per cent and still “come out all right on the jobs.”  She expressed belief that a further reduction in hourly costs could be made when the surplus items no longer have to be figured in the plant’s inventory.”


“At their national convention the American Business Women’s Association named Lillie Washabaugh the National Woman of the Year, chosen over 146 other nominees nation-wide.

“She also cooks, sews, swims, water-skis, belongs to a few other professional clubs, does some work for the Sacred Heart Church of Plainville, manages polio or Red Cross funds campaigns, and raises 300 chickens a season . . . Lillie has light brown hair, blue green eyes, weighs 165 pounds, and is five feet eleven inches in height.  She used to pilot her own plane, but a bout with polio in 1951 stopped that.  They have no children, but helped four Natoma children along the way.  One girl lived with them six years.  Now she is married and they feel that her daughter is their ‘grandchild.’  The other three are now students at K-State and Kansas universities.” – Taken from The Topeka Capital-Journal,October 19, 1958.

After she left the State Printer office in 1961 Lillie worked in California for William L. Cassell, Mechanical Engineer of Kansas City, Missouri.  Her husband John Washabaugh died in 1964, and the next year Lillie became Office manager and Comptroller of Sunrise Food Products, Inc. of El Segundo, California.  Sometime in the next few years she married a Mr. Wineberry.  When the Sunrise business was sold in 1978 she joined Dobbins, DeGuire & Tucker for a year, working with public accounting and tax returns.  In 1980-1981 she worked as office manager and corporate secretary for Morba-Log Homes, Inc. until that business too was sold.  Lillie then went to work for Bitter Root Accounting, working with the general ledgers, financial statements and fixed assets, as well as tax preparation in 1981-1982. In 1982 she started her own tax and bookkeeping service, which she operated until her death.

On June 26, 1978, Lillie married Eugene C. Hamilton in Clark Fork, Idaho.  The couple moved to Corvallis, Montana later that year.  Lillie died at Corvallis on November 8, 1986, and was buried in the Corvallis Cemetery.

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