With a poppy and an American flag displayed proudly on her lapel, Washington resident Enid Struckhoff smiles when she talks about the American Legion Auxiliary, an organization she devoted much of her life to.
“I have lived the American Legion Auxiliary for many years,” Struckhoff said.
Struckhoff, 92, joined the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 262 in Augusta in 1948.
At that time, she gained her eligibility through her brother, Layton Holt.
In 1957 she married Everett Struckhoff and also was eligible for the Auxiliary through her husband’s service. Both her brother and husband served in World War II.
Struckhoff served as the unit president in Augusta for four years.
After moving to Washington in 1967, Struckhoff transferred her membership to the Washington Auxiliary Unit 218. She also served as the Washington unit president for two terms.
In 1964, Struckhoff served as president of the Ninth District American Legion Auxiliary. Struckhoff said she spent much of her time installing unit officers and attending Legion and Auxiliary functions.
“It was a busy time,” she said.
In 1969-70, she served as the department historian of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Because it was the 50th anniversary of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Missouri, Struckhoff completed a special project — a book containing a picture of each department president.
Each entry included remarks about each of the presidents. The book also featured a few comments about her year as president.
It was presented to the department president at the yearly convention.
Struckhoff served as department second and first vice president. She then was elected department president for 1972-73.
Again, Struckhoff spent most of her time traveling to attend conferences and conventions. Struckhoff said she enjoyed meeting and installing officers of various districts and units.
Every department president since 1960 has had a “membership gimmick pin.”
Struckhoff’s pin was a Liberty Bell. Her slogan was “Ring the bells for Enid.”
A number of years ago, Struckhoff collected 40 pins from various presidents and had them mounted and framed. She presented the finished piece to the Missouri Department.
The piece was displayed in the department headquarters in Jefferson City.
Legionette, Historical Record
In 1974, Struckhoff was appointed to serve as editor of the Missouri Legionette, a monthly publication of the department.
She served as editor for 19 years.
For six years, she also compiled the department publication historical record yearly.
Both the Legionette and historical record were (and still are) printed by the Missourian Media Group.
“I made trip after trip after trip down to The Missourian,” Struckhoff said.
Once the materials for the publications were given to her, she would rewrite or retype it to send off for publication.
“There was none of this email,” she said.
Once it was typeset at The Missourian, Struckhoff would pick it up and proofread it. Then, she would bring it back with changes.
“I’m surprised I didn’t lose my happy home because my husband had to hear Missouri Legionette or historical record morning, noon and night,” she said.
“I should have kept a record of how many trips I had back and forth to The Missourian,” she added, laughing.
In addition to her unit and district duties, Struckhoff served as the city/county counselor of Missouri Girls State for several years.
American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is a nonpartisan program that teaches young women responsible citizenship, as well as love for God and country. The program is run by Auxiliary volunteers.
The entire staff is selected from Auxiliary members, Struckhoff said.
Struckhoff served as national executive committeewoman and as Central Division poppy chairman.
“I enjoyed going out on the streets during Poppy Days,” she said, noting that poppies were not sold. They were given out for donations. “All of that money we collected from poppies was used for our veterans.”
Struckhoff is the only member of the Missouri Department to have earned the Legion’s Four Chaplains Award three times, in 1979, 1989 and 2003.
She was presented with the Washingtonian award in 2004, which was established by The Missourian to honor a person or organization who has distinguished themselves through longtime volunteer service often without fanfare or notoriety.
At that time, Struckhoff was recognized for 50 years of volunteer service to the Washington American Legion Auxiliary and to U.S. veterans.
Bill Miller Jr., general manager of The Missourian, presented the award.
“She has been described as fiercely independent and a very tough lady who wears her heart on her sleeve and an American flag on her lapel,” Miller said during the presentation.
“She is an inspiration to everyone associated with the American Legion Auxiliary and anyone who works on behalf of our veterans.
“For her unmatched commitment and devotion on behalf of our military veterans for more than 50 years, Enid Struckhoff has demonstrated all of the qualities that are embodied in the Washingtonian award, a volunteer who has given a lifetime of service in helping others.”
In 2008, Struckhoff received the Mentor of the Year award from the Legion.
The award was signed by the national chairman and national president.
One current Auxiliary member said Struckhoff embodies what the mentor award represents.
“She has been a mentor to anybody who joined the Auxiliary and to anyone who was interested in going up in office or leadership,” said Vera Gerner-Taylor, current Auxiliary secretary.
Gerner-Taylor said that she “took her under her wing” as she moved through the unit and division offices. Struckhoff, she said, always encouraged her and answered questions she might have. She always encouraged new ideas, she said.
“She was my mentor on the department level too,” she said. “She is a fantastic friend and she knows everything there is to know about the American Legion Auxiliary.”
Struckhoff was described as a “trailblazer” in the unit.
Current Auxiliary President, Carlene Brinker, expressed gratitude for Struckhoff’s leadership and mentorship throughout the years.
“She’s been a leader and a mentor to members of the Auxiliary for a number of years,” Brinker said.
Outside of the Auxiliary, Struckhoff said she loves music and gardening.
In the past, she sang in the church funeral choir and went to area nursing homes for sing-alongs. During the nursing home visits, Struckhoff also took time visiting veterans.
She crocheted about 50 lap blankets for veterans and with the Auxiliary, she worked to assist homeless veterans.
She is most proud of work she did for veterans.
With 66 years of service to the Auxiliary, Brinker said she doesn’t know of a longer serving member.
Struckhoff, who has been living at Grandview Healthcare Center since July, continues to compile a newsletter and send information about the Auxiliary and letters to the editor as she is able.
Her goal is to attend a future Auxiliary meeting when she is able.