February 15, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Sixty-seven years ago this month, the “Junction City Daily Union” headlines read: “Katherine Ritter Wins First Place in the State With Article”.
Mary Katherine Ritter, a 16 year old sophomore in the Junction City High School, had been declared the first place winner in the state-wide essay contest sponsored by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas. Mary Katherine’s prize, which was awarded by Beechcraft of Wichita, was a engraved pen and pencil set.
Kansas firms presented prizes to the high school writers of the best essays covering nine different topics dealing with Kansas industries, resources and ideas. Mary’s essay, “Wings Over Kansas” was the state winner on that topic. Other papers were written about salt, poultry, oil, livestock, manufacturing, Americanism and safety. A sweepstakes winner was declared from the nine state winners at the annual Kansas Day Celebration in Topeka.
Mary Katherine was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Ritter of Route 3 in Junction City. Her interest in “Wings Over Kansas” stemmed from the fact that she had flown light aircraft from the Ritter Field, which was located on her grandfather’s farm. His name was Fred Ritter. According to the article, this was Mary Katherine’s second experience as a contest winner. She had also won first prize in a contest sponsored by the Junction City Chamber of Commerce on the topic of fire prevention.