Club News

Laura Ann Smyrl

Miriam Benedict Chapter of the NSDAR

The Miriam Benedict Chapter of the NSDAR met on June 6 at the La Porte County Public Library. Regent Luanne Hayter Long called our meeting to order with 10 members and one guest present. The Opening Ritual was conducted; along with the Pledge to the Flag, Preamble, Creed and Sheila Pressel led us in the singing of the National Anthem.

Regent Long highlighted the President General Ann Turner Dillion's message. This will be the conclusion of Dillion’s three year service as President General of the NSDAR. Dillion thanked members for their participation to make “Moving Forward in Service to America,” a reality. As members we should want to be willing to participate in our local communities and be dedicated service volunteers making a difference for history. The 128th Continental Congress, at the end of June, will be electing a new President General and she will have her projects and agenda to support.

A "memorial" service was conducted for member Laura Ann Smyrl, by our Chaplin Jane Adams. Smyrl was born in La Porte in 1934 and became a DAR member at the age of 19 in 1953. She graduated from Purdue University Reese School of Business in 1954 and was a stenographer most of her working years. She worked at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant, La Porte License Bureau and Whirlpool Corporation.

Smyrl was able to trace her lineage back to seven different patriots who fought during the Revolutionary War. She served the Miriam Benedict Chapter as our Regent three separate times. She also was First and Second Vice Regent, Recording and Corresponding Secretary and chairman for junior membership. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, serving as worthy matron three times. Smyrl was a lifelong member of St Paul’s Episcopal Church and Sunday school teacher.

She passed at the age of 85 years on Feb. 6, 2019. Laura Ann Smyrl aptly demonstrated the DAR motto, which is to “love and honor, God, home and country.”

We then resumed our reports by our chairman of committees. Shirley Mounce, chairperson for “Women’s Issues” featured Margaret Sanger, an early feminist and women’s rights activist. Sanger coined the term "birth control" and worked towards its legalization. Born in 1879, she became an ardent promoter of a woman’s right to birth control in 1910 and continued to promote contraceptive advocacy until her death in 1966. Mrs. Mounce also covered "skin care and cancer prevention" 'facts on insomnia" and "will exercise really make you happier?"

Marianne Davison, Community Classroom chairperson, reported awarding the top three eighth graders in U.S. History class at Boston and Kesling. A separate picture and article will be run later this summer in The La Porte Herald-Argus. Mrs. Davison also conducted fourth grade tours in the schoolhouse at Pioneer Land for Indiana history and will chair the school during La Porte County Fair with other volunteers.

Other committee reports given by Mrs. Davison were under the “Commemorative Dates” for June, ‘"Flag Moment" and "Conservation Moment" on native vs. non-native plants. The evasiveness of non-native plants is very harmful to our natural environment.

Regent Long presented the “National Defense” report to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day; as well as the burial of General George Patton and the life of Sargent Alvin York.

Sheila Pressel covered the "American Indians"and shared that yet another World War II Code Talker had recently passed. Mrs. Pressel as Librarian/Education chairperson, reminded us that the NSDAR still supports the Tamassee school in South Carolina for rural and disadvantaged children. This year marks the 100th anniversary year of its establishment. She also covered our national DAR magazine SPIRIT has again won additional awards for excellence. Our national DAR Library in Washington, D.C. has recently purchased several high resolution scanners. This will improve upon the quality of old photographs and documents for research. Locally, the “Project Read” and U.S. citizenship test may be shared with us by local librarian Mary Hedge in the future.

Our next meeting will not be held until Sept. 5 at the La Porte County Public Library at 10 a.m. Please note the change of time. For those who have a patriot in their lineage or wish further information about joining the DAR or future presentations, contact Miriam Benedict Chapter at and follow the prompts.

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