Edna & Kelsey Petro*

Edna & Kelsey Petro*

donor plaque
Edna & Kelsey   Petro*

The late Edna B. Petro, ba '19, was born July 27, 1897. She came to Topeka in 1915 from her hometown of Macksville, Kan. to study at Washburn. She graduated in 1919 with a B.A. in bacteriology and sociology. Petro also studied music while at Washburn and she was active in the YWCA, Washburn Girls Literary Society, Student Council, Panhellenic Council, Biology Club, Glee Club and Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and was president in 1918-1919 at the time of the national conclave in Topeka. Edna married Kelsey Harry Petro in Macksville on June 27, 1919. They lived in Topeka where Kelsey was a partner in the pharmaceutical business with his father, Amasa Petro, one of the first registered pharmacists in Kansas. After his father's death in 1928, Kelsey operated the business and expanded it to three drug stores and a new department producing fitted surgical supports and appliances. At this point, Edna joined him in the venture. She attended the Horn Brothers School of Fitting in Philadelphia to become a surgical appliance technician and became her husband's chief fitter in the surgical appliance business. Edna retired 16 years later from that line of work when Kelsey and their two sons, Robert and Richard, purchased the Smith Truss Manufacturing Company. Hospitals, clinics and physicians from throughout the United States, Iran and Denmark ordered products wholesale. While raising their two sons, Edna became active in civic and club work in the Topeka community. She joined the Topeka Women's Club in 1919 and she also joined the Minerva Club, an organization emphasizing the appreciation of music and literature. During World War II, Edna served as a Gray Lady with the Red Cross in the Winter VA Hospital. She was state president of the Druggists Auxiliary and helped initiate a scholarship loan fund. Her work with the First Presbyterian Church at Topeka was most important to Edna. As a soprano, she was a choir member for 30 years. She taught Sunday school, supervised youth music, and represented First Presbyterian on the Council of Churches in Topeka. Her music background prompted her to establish an endowed music scholarship fund at Washburn, which helps many women voice students obtain an education at Washburn. Since her graduation from Washburn, Edna and Kelsey gave to Washburn University. It began with Edna giving a load of wheat to the university which they sold for scholarship money. When the IRS put a stop to that she began writing them checks. In 1983, Kelsey and Edna pledged money to the Allied Health Center being built on campus, now known as Petro Allied Health Center. Part of the gift was used to buy athletic and physical therapy training equipment. Kelsey passed away in October of 1985. Edna passed away May 6, 1992.