The Ohio Federation of Republican Women


It’s important to know our history--lest we forget! Two significant milestones were reached in 2009 -- the OFRW celebrated its 80th Anniversary. Additionally, the NFRW held its 35th Biennial Convention in Orlando, Florida, celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The Ohio Federation of Republican Women was organized on November 29, 1929 by Mrs. Hugh Clark. 
Eighty years ago, on November 29, 1929, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clark (Mrs. Hugh), a Steubenville, Ohio school teacher, had a vision of seeing women serving our country as leaders. To this end, she began the Ohio Federation of Republican Women in an effort to educate and encourage women.
    She was a dynamic woman, a nationally recognized orator, and a dedicated Republican. She was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1929. Keep in mind that this was only nine years after the 19th Amendment prohibited the government from denying women their right to vote. She worked hard in the presidential campaign of Herbert Hoover, traveling around the country speaking on behalf of Republican beliefs. 
    She was a charter member, and twice elected state president, of the American Legion Auxiliary. She cared deeply about the soldiers serving the country and was determined to help do everything possible from home to give them some comfort. She was part of many more committees and organizations then there is space to mention. She was a leader in organizations where no woman had led before -- blazing a path for others.  While it is not known what she said in her speeches, she may well have encouraged women to run for office and helped good solid Republicans get elected. Maybe she told them to put aside petty differences, grudges, and other meaningless grievances, and work for the good of the party she loved.
    "As I researched her life and read about all her involvements and the comments made about her, I realized she was not only dedicated to Republican beliefs, but she knew the importance and power of women working together – united." stated Sharon Gingerich in the history presentation she delivered at the 2009 OFRW Fall Conference. "It’s interesting to note that Clark started the OFRW during the great depression – when our country needed something to believe in – very much like today. As another year approaches, think about what Lizzie would have been telling you to do. She would have wanted you to support our wonderful statewide Republican candidates. Get involved in a judicial race by supporting one of the candidates or on a local level. Campaigning is hard and it is lonely – even when surrounded by a roomful of people. Help your candidates – financially if you can – but get involved in their campaigns on any level. I don’t have to tell you about how much rides on the outcome of the 2010 elections. You are Lizzie’s legacy."
    After a statewide rally in Columbus on April 30, 1930, the organization became inactive until August 1940 when it was revived through the efforts mainly of Katharine Kennedy Brown. Brown called a meeting with the Ohio Republican State Central and Executive Committee to reactivate the organization. Katharine K. Brown was elected President of the OFRW and served in that capacity until 1972. To see a 1944 Life Magazine photo of Brown, click 
    The organization's goal was to educate women about the Republican Party and to encourage women to be active in the party. To be a member of the NFRW, a State was required to have clubs in 60 per cent of its counties. Ohio, with 88 Counties was accepted into the NFRW in 1940, with 200 clubs and 6,000 members.
    During January of 1941, the OFRW had a victory ball to celebrate the election of John W. Bricker as Governor of Ohio. At that time, they boasted a membership of 331 clubs and 15,000 dues-paying members.
    Katharine Kennedy Brown had a goal of 50,000 members in Ohio. The closest that goal came to being reached was 369 clubs and 40,000 members in 1970.

   The following women have served as President of the OFRW during these years:

1940 ─ 1971

1972 ─ 1977

1978 ─ 1981

1982 ─ 1985

1986 ─ 1989

1990 ─ 1993

1994 ─ 1997

1998 ─ 2001

2002 ─ 2005

2006 ─ 2007

January 1 ─ March 12, 2008

March 12, 2008 ─ December 31, 2009

2010 ─  2013

  2014 ─  2017  

2018 ─          

Katharine Kennedy Brown

Lois Leggat

Pat Smith

Betty Lou Nicole

Carolyn Wallace

Pauline Riel

Kay Ayres

Shirley Sadler

Dorothy Ginther

Mary Anne Christie

Jeanne Turnbull

Karen Skillings

Jean Turner

Lyn Bliss

Janet Kushlan


    The 1991 NFRW Biennial Convention was held in Cincinnati. This was a major event for the OFRW. The entire OFRW slate of officers, board members and many members from local clubs worked as a team to welcome over 3,000 guests. The team successfully raised $200,000 to pay for the convention. It was the first and only time that a state raised more money than was needed to pay for a convention. The additional $25,000 was used to purchase the Ohio room at the new NFRW headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
    "Let’s use these important milestones in celebration of past accomplishments and to lead us on to complete our present objectives and future goals. To make an organization work it takes a team. We, as Republican women, can do it if we all contribute. We need your ideas, your talent and whatever time you can spare. Put on your 'thinking caps' and let’s make a difference. Increase the membership. Recharge. Rebuild." encourages President Jean Turner.

    Sharon Gingerich gave a detailed, enlightening and entertaining presentation of the history of the Ohio Federation of Republican Women at the 2009 Fall Conference. The above is partially based upon that presentation and additional information she submitted to the December OFRW Voice, coupled with information from the OFRW Leadership Manual. Look for more history from Sharon!  Sharon may be contacted via email at


Over the years, the Ohio Federation of Republican Women has had several renewals to its "cardinal" seal.