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Zula Bennington Greene

Year Inducted: 
1990
Zula Bennington Greene “Peggy of the Flint Hills”
Highlights: 
  • Well known columnist for the Topeka Capital Journal called “Peggy of the Flint Hills”
  • Writer of “The Coleman Family,” a weekly serial for WIBW Radio in Topeka, Kansas
  • Board member and past President of Topeka Civic Theater
  • The Arts Council of Topeka presented her with an award for her writing and support of Topeka theaters
  • Stauffer Communications endowed a scholarship for students in Mass Media in her honor
Biography: 

Zula Bennington Greene was born March 2, 1895, on a farm in Hickory County, Missouri, to Jacob and Margaret (Holley) Bennington. She grew up in Missouri and moved with her family to Center, Colorado, in her teens. She attended Colorado University for two years and taught school for three years before she began writing for two Kansas newspapers, the Chase County Leader-News and the El Dorado Times, in 1928. During the Great Depression she moved to Topeka and began writing for the Topeka Daily Capital, later known as the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Greene is best remembered for her column, "Peggy of the Flint Hills," that appeared six days a week in the Topeka Capital-Journal from 1933 to 1988. In the 1930's she wrote "The Coleman Family," a weekly serial for WIBW Radio in Topeka. In later years she also wrote twice a year for the Minneapolis Review of Baseball. In 1983 a collection of her favorite columns was published under the title Skimming the Cream, and she wrote the introduction for Kansas In Color. Portions of her autobiography have appeared in the regional magazine titled Little Balkans Review.

Greene was an active member of the Topeka, Kansas, community for over fifty years. She was a board member and past president of the Topeka Civic Theatre and she appeared in several theatre and television productions. In 1940 her first role was as a doctor's wife in "Our Town." She also appeared in the 1977 made-for-television movie, "Mary White," playing the role of "Mrs. Apple." The Arts Council of Topeka presented her with an award for her writing and support of Topeka, Kansas, theatres that same year. She is credited with the founding of a Performing Arts Center for children and instituting weekly acting classes at the Veterans Administration hospital in Topeka, Kansas. In 1987 she received the American Association of Community Theatres, Robert Gard, Superior Volunteer Award for her work with the Topeka Civic Theatre. She also received an award for her contributions to community theatre from the Federation of American Community Theatres Midwestern conference. She was named Outstanding Newswoman of the Year by the University of Kansas and Kansas State University. She was nominated for the Mary Margaret McBride Award in 1952. The Junior League of Topeka, the Kansas Authors Club, and the Kiwanis Club honored Greene for her contributions. She was the first recipient of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce "Topper" Award in 1977. She celebrated the 50th anniversary of her column in 1984. That same year, the Native Sons and Daughters named her their Distinguished Kansan and the Kansas Authors Club honored her for distinguished service. Greene received an honorary doctorate of human letters degree from Washburn University on May 15, 1988.

Greene was a member of Theta Sigma Phi, now the Topeka Professional Chapter of Women in Communications, Inc., the Topeka Civic Theatre, Phi Kappa Phi honorary scholastic society, the Topeka Downtown Rotary Club, Women in Communications, YMCA, Minerva Club, Nautilus Club, and the Central Congregational Church. Zula Bennington Greene married Milton Willard Greene on June 26, 1918, in Center, Colorado. They had four children: Margaret Greene, Edward Greene, Dorothy (Greene) Hanger, and Willard B. Greene. She died of a stroke on June 13, 1988, in Topeka, Kansas.

Books: 
Skimming the Cream by Zula Bennington Greene
A collection of Zula Bennington Greene’s columns and musings compiled to celebrate six days a week for 50 years of “Peggy of the Flint Hills”

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