Volunteer of Distinction: Penny Kohlmeyer

Gazette Article by: Laurie Starrett
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1999

If you strive for excellence – with talent, intelligence and a lot of hard work, you may achieve your goal. For the past six years Penny Kohlmeyer has exemplified excellence as editor of the Winnetka Historical Society Gazette. It is with regret that we announce her retirement.

Since the inception of the Gazette in 1994, Kohlmeyer has edited and managed its production, seeing each issue through planning, publication and distribution. Tom Hermes, former managing editor of the paper, said “Without her it never would have gotten off the ground. It was just an idea, and she came along and made it take flight.” Under her expert guidance, the Gazette has won three prestigious awards: Superior Achievement awards from both the Illinois Association of Museums and the Illinois State Historical Society in 1995 and a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History in 1998.

Kohlmeyer’s dedication and commitment helped the Gazette grow from a four-page insert in The Winnetka Paper to an eight-page newspaper mailed to Society members locally and in 17 states. It also is available free to Winnetkans at 94 locations throughout the village.

Kohlmeyer explained why the Society chose to produce a newspaper rather than a newsletter. “We wanted a publication that would interest the entire community – not just the members of the Society – and decided to present history as news.” She continued, “Our mission and biggest challenge was to show that local history is not only interesting but relevant to the present.”
Kohlmeyer is quick to credit others for the paper’s success, particularly the writers and her husband, Glenn, who has been the Gazette’s layout designer for the past three years. She is proud of the fact that during her stewardship the paper was a totally volunteer effort.

In addition to editing the newspaper, Kohlmeyer enthusiastically volunteers for many other positions on the Board of Directors of the Society. She has served as secretary and chaired the Administration Committee and currently heads the Membership and Hospitality Subcommittees. She is also a member of the Programs, Museum and Fund Raising Committees.

The Winnetka Historical Society has benefited greatly from Penny Kohlmeyer’s contributions; she has shown the way for those who follow to strive for excellence.

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