Alumni Spotlight: Marjorie L. Webb '46
This profile was submitted by Marjorie Petty, former Kansas Senator, who worked with Marjorie Webb on various public projects for 25 years as a colleague and friend. Webb has been a mentor, advisor and an inspiration to many. She now lives in Dallas.
Alumna Marjorie L. Webb credits Drury University for shaping many of her lifelong contributions. Marjorie's desire to learn was inspired by her family in rural Miller, Missouri. Her continual curiosity was later nurtured at Drury. When she attended, the University was still named Drury College.
Drury is the source of many of Marjorie’s fond memories, friendships and educational experiences. Marjorie said, “Drury changed my life. It is said you cannot take the ‘country’ out of country people, but among other things, Drury taught me how to manage the big city.”
Like many women, Marjorie has been “ahead of her time” throughout her life. She graduated from Drury in 1946 with honors in history and English. She taught law school classes after receiving her law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1966. Marjorie said, “I enjoyed hearing my brother Welzie, also a Drury graduate, discuss legal concepts, so I enrolled in law school and, frequently, was the only woman in the class. Growing up in Miller with three brothers, all of whom attended Drury, and with a mother who taught debate, provided a great foundation for pursuing interest in law at the time I did.”
Marjorie began her commitment to public service during her time at Drury. At 22, she received a Presidential Appointment to be in charge of the U.S. Post Office in Miller. The postal carriers who had known her as a youngster were not sure whether to call her “Margie” or “Madam Postmaster.”
Marjorie taught both inside and outside the classroom. She was elected for 12 years to represent Kansas teachers on a statewide board, determining investment strategies and equity for retirees. Prior to that, she was appointed by the Kansas Governor to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) Study Commission, where she worked with key legislators, county administrators and national actuaries to enhance retirement benefits for teachers and state employees. The recommendations from the Commission were passed by the 1994 Kansas legislature. “My intellectual curiosity was a factor in my decision to be involved in the KPERS study and then to run statewide as a KPERS Board Member,” said Marjorie.
She recognized and promoted the value of education, funding the college education of three young people on the small salary of a public school teacher.
Marjorie was inducted into the Kansas Teacher Hall of Fame in 2017. Her contributions include authoring an amendment to the National Education Association Constitution and serving on the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus. Her multi-year commitment as an elected member of the NEA-Shawnee Mission, Kansas, governing body and her many years of teaching in the Shawnee Mission school system have established her place in the profession.
“Marjorie’s strengths as a teacher have always been her patience, empathy and warm personality, modestly tinctured with a keen sense of humor,” stated retired teacher Terry Hoyland. “She has always been fighting for the underdog, young and old, and for years has been active in working for students and teachers.”
Marjorie lives out her passion from the classroom as a lifelong National Education Association member and officer in the National Council of Urban Educators. She crafted a curriculum that assisted high school students in understanding how the law affects their everyday lives. She then promoted it for national use in the classroom. She has led by example serving as the teacher sponsor of the State Model Legislature for the Shawnee Mission Senior High Schools, as a board member of the Women's Political Caucus of Kansas City, and as a 30-year committee member for the Democratic Party.
“Marjorie’s kind, soft spoken presence commands attention,” said Carmen Alldritt, a colleague on the KPERS Commission. “When she is asking a question or making a point, everyone listens. She expects everyone to do their best and by her example, most people do respond accordingly. She works tirelessly in all activities relating to education, law, politics and community projects.”
Marjorie L. Webb is truly an inspiration for future generations, and Drury University provided the focus and the education she needed to enhance her gifts. Today, Marjorie continues to contribute.