Zula Bennington Greene
Columnist. Born: March 2, 1895, Hickory County, Missouri. Died: June 13, 1988, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.
Zula Bennington Greene was born on March 2, 1895, in Hickory County, Missouri, to parents Jacob and Margaret (Holley) Bennington. She spent many years of her childhood in Missouri before her family moved to Center, Colorado. It was there that she met her future husband, Willard Greene. At the time of their meeting he was her high school teacher. After high school she taught for a year, went to the University of Colorado for two years, and then taught two more years before she married Willard on June 26, 1918. She and her husband moved to Kansas where they lived on a farm in Chase County, Kansas.
In 1929 she started writing for the Chase County Leader (later Leader News). She developed a column called “Flint Hills Fantasies.” In 1933 the family moved to Topeka and she began writing for the Topeka Daily Capital. Known as “Peggy of the Flint Hills” by her readers, she wrote her column for 55 years until her death in 1988. She also wrote a Sunday feature called “Profiles,” that featured Topeka personalities. She wrote a weekly serial radio show for WIBW Radio called “The Coleman Family” that aired for a time in the 1930s.
Greene enjoyed acting and was involved in the Topeka Civic Theatre. Her first performance was in 1940 as the doctor’s wife in Our Town. She performed in the 1976 production of Harvey. She was a charter member of the Topeka Civic Theatre board of directors and served as president. She received many awards for her performances and volunteerism including best actress and the Waldo B. Heywood award for cultural contributions. She was also a lifetime trustee of Civic Theatre. The Greene Room, the women’s dressing room, was named in her memory.
She was a member of Theta Sigma Phi (Now Topeka Professionals Chapter of Women in Communications, Inc.), Central Congregational Church, Topeka Downtown Rotary, Minerva Club, Nautilus Club, and Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Scholastic Society at Washburn University. She founded the Performing Arts for Children, and held weekly acting classes at the Veteran’s Hospital in Topeka.
She was a popular speaker at meetings and events in the community. She was honored with many awards such as Outstanding Newswoman of the Year by both the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, the American Association of Community Theater’s Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer in 1981 for her work with the Topeka Civic Theatre, a writing award from the Arts Council of Topeka in 1977, one of the original inductees into the Kansas Theater Hall of Fame in 1980, the Federation of American Community Theater Midwestern Conference award for outstanding community theater contributions in 1987, Kansans for Equal Rights honor in 1978, and featured by the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour in 1984. Washburn University presented her with an honorary degree in human letters in 1988. She was named Distinguished Kansan by Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas in 1983.
Some of her favorite columns over the decades were published in a book called Skimming the Cream in 1983.
She died June 13, 1988, in Topeka Kansas
Entry: Greene, Zula Bennington
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: July 2016
Date Modified: July 2016
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