The name “Annie Baxter” may not be a household name across the country but she played a big role in history.
She was the first woman to hold elective office in the state of Missouri and was the first female clerk in the entire U.S.
This year’s award was give to Marilyn Ruestman a trailblazer is a bit of an understatement.
She served four, two year terms, as a state representative in Southwest Missouri and then served two, four year terms, as presiding commissioner in newton county before retiring from elected office in January.
“Lots of people who came who are not known but worked really hard for years along the way with me,” says Ruestman.
And she says it’s an honor to just be considered for the award, let alone win it.
MSSU professor Ree Wells-Lewis says there’s no question Annie Baxter would have approved.
“And she still has so much energy and enthusiasm and influence that I feel that women of many generations are going to come to appreciate Marilyn as well,” says Wells-Lewis.
What some people may not realize is that she worked for politicians for several years before becoming on herself.
Prior to running for office, she worked under U.S. Congressman Mel Hancock and Missouri State Senator Marvin Singleton.
Adds Ruestman, “It still is a different atmosphere for women, even today, I’m sure since Annie Baxter, it’s changed a lot, but my advise would be honestly you have to believe that you can do it, you have to understand it’s very hard work and and be honest.”