Marget Hamilton Award

Marget Hamilton Award

The Award

The League of Women Voters of Wheaton established its SERVICE TO THE WHEATON LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS AWARD. The name of the award is the MARGET HAMILTON AWARD in honor of the founder of the Wheaton League Unit in 1955.

The award is not an annual award as such, but is given in a year of some particular reason to honor a long term/time member who has contributed in ways outside of direct leadership or honoring the work of a member who personifies the original purposes of the League of Women Voters organization. The award might be looked on as honoring icons of the league.

Marget Hamilton has had a very long and distinguished career in public service on many levels and served as the first woman Mayor of Wheaton. After moving to this area in the early `50s, she discovered there was no League here in Wheaton and soon after joining the Glen Ellyn League with her mother-in-law, Nell, she embarked on the procedural work to establish the Wheaton League of Women Voters. Margy embodies every part of what the League is all about and we are pleased to name this award in her honor.

Watch a talk on Marget Hamilton and a video of the tree dedication for Marget Hamilton.

The Winners

Betty Hamilton (2008)

Betty Hamilton was the first Marget Hamilton Award recipient in May 2008 (she was not related to Marget). Betty joined just as the Wheaton League was established (1955). As a member for many years, she served in many capacities throughout the years. She continued to be a LWV member when she and her husband moved to LaSalle-Peru where she established a Chapter there. 

Betty returned to Wheaton after her husband passed away and reconnected with the Wheaton League and continued to serve.

Helen White (2009)

Helen White received the Marget Hamilton Award in May 2009. She joined the Wheaton League in 1963 after seeing an article about the Chapter in the local paper; she was searching for intellectual stimulation to challenge her mind while raising her four children. Helen fell in love with the League! While working on League issues, she graduated from Rosary College with a Master’s Degree in Library Science and worked full-time for 27 years as a librarian for Glenbard High School District 87. She served on the Wheaton Housing Commission with distinction for 18 years.

Helen traveled to Springfield to lobby the State legislators. During one of her many trips, she went to lobby for ERA. When Helen sent a note into the Senate chamber asking to talk to a certain Senator, she saw him kick his desk and say, “Those damn women are here again!”

Ruth Riha (2011)

 In 2011 Ruth Riha was honored as one of the Wheaton LWV’s outstanding members with the third Marget Hamilton Award. Ruth was a founding member of Planned Parenthood in DuPage County. In addition to serving on many Daycare Boards and helping to develop centers in DuPage, she volunteered with many YWCA programs and helped to develop children’s summer programs in DuPage. 

Ruth also worked with Bernard Kleina, HOPE Fair Housing Center’s first Executive Director, on housing and equality issues in the 60s and 70s. 

Several members remember Ruth as an “amazing person,” “a very kind-hearted person, very observant, very caring…very humble,” and “had a humanitarian soul.” 

Betty Bradshaw (2014)

Betty Bradshaw joined the Wheaton League when she and her husband, Jerry, moved to Wheaton in 1971. Betty’s highest priority was to be well informed about world issues, so she could work to influence those issues. She held the Great Decisions study group, which is part of the Foreign Policy organization, in her home to discuss the world’s major concerns. Educating the community about our issues and promoting candidate forums were Betty’s passion. And her commitment to the League didn’t stop there; Betty served in so many ways: membership and nominating committees; voter services; and as an observer for schools, City Council, and the Park Board.

Throughout the years, Betty’s most extensive work included the annual Finance Drive to encourage local businesses to donate to support our League’s work. She organized a Finance Drive Business Advisory Committee so League members would have all the information needed to call on businesses for donations, while also allowing the businesses to offer suggestions they might have about the business climate in town that might be worked on through the positions our League has.

Betty graciously hosted monthly League meetings, committee meetings, and holiday luncheons in her home for many years. Betty Bradshaw is a lifetime member.

Barb Pape (2014)

Barb Pape became a member of the Wheaton League in 1992. In addition to organizing candidate forums and voter registration drives, she served as president from 1999 to 2001. Barb hosted the LWVIL Phonathon and worked on local fund drives, and she participated in the annual program planning events, local and state studies, and served on the nominating committee. Barb started the Wheaton League’s first website.

Barb engaged in the community as well; she was an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and of Metropolitan Family Services. The Woman’s Department Club of Wheaton, a philanthropic organization that supports many causes, which includes providing college scholarships every year to four senior girls (two from Wheaton Warrenville South and two from Wheaton North), elected Barb as president as it marked its 100th anniversary. She was also a sustaining member of Junior League. A University of Pittsburgh graduate and member of the Pitt Alumni Club, Barb and her husband, Art, created the Arthur and Barbara Pape Endowment, which provided funds for study at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, a biological field station that is part of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jan Kay (2016)

After moving to Wheaton in the early 60s, she became involved in several organizations including CUSD200 Engage Committee and St. Mark’s Food Pantry. She served on the Wheaton United Way Board for several years. Jan received the YWCA Leader Luncheon Award for Community Service in the early 90s. Being a champion for affordable housing, Jan continues to serve on the Wheaton Housing Commission and regularly attends Wheaton City Council meetings.

Jan is a long-time member of the Wheaton League of Women Voters and has been our President twice as well as serving on the State League Board. Jan remains active in our League and in our community and always has a kind and encouraging word for everyone! 

Pat Schwarze (2021)

On Thursday, May 20, at our League of Women Voters of Wheaton Annual Meeting, Pat Schwarze received our League’s highest honor, The Marget Hamilton Award. Pat Schwarze was welcomed as a new member in the December 1981 Voter, and now she’s been our excellent Voter editor for many years. She’s chaired committees and studies as well as serving as President from 2001 to 2003 and again from 2016 to 2017, not to mention being our Parliamentarian Extraordinaire. Her work experience as an editor for local newspapers and her legislative involvement throughout the years have helped her contribute tremendously to the Wheaton League.

In addition to volunteering in League roles, Pat has served her community in many ways. She was on several boards, including Greater Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Ambassadors, Illinois State PTA, and B.R. Ryall YMCA. Pat volunteered on the City of Wheaton Group Homes Commission and the City of Wheaton Planning & Zoning Commission. She can add her Marget Hamilton Award to a long list of awards she’s received, which include the Award for Educational Excellence – Those Who Excel Program from the Illinois State Board of Education, the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and Spirit Awards, Illinois Press Association awards for Editorial Page Excellence and for Outstanding Column, and the Influential Woman in Business Award.