Legion Auxiliary's national president visits the community

by: LORI KIMBEL/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Louise Carter (on the left), the Oregon Auxiliary president, and Sandi Dutton, the national president of the American Legion Auxiliary, visit during Dutton's recent trip to Prineville.

A week before Governor Kulongoski's visit to Prineville, Sandi Dutton, the National President of the American Legion Auxiliary graced the local auxiliary with her presence.
   Dutton was elected National President of the American Legion Auxiliary in September at the organization's 84th Annual National Convention in Nashville.
   The American Legion Auxiliary, with its nearly one million members, is the largest patriotic women's service organization in the world.
   Dutton, who has lived her entire life within a five mile radius, became involved with the auxiliary when she was just 11 years old.
   "It just became a way of life. I thought everybody did this. I thought everyone volunteered one way or another," said Dutton.
   Leadership came early for Dutton, who served as president of her local junior group. She was then elected honorary department junior vice president. Once she became a senior member, Dutton served as secretary and treasurer on the district level, then she served as district president in 1983-1984.
   In 1986, she was honored with an Honorary Life Membership for Greenbelt Unit 136.
   Throughout her career, Dutton has served on numerous chairmanships and committees.
   "It just evolved. It seemed like the next step, and the next step and the next step," said Dutton.
   She was the national vice president during 2003-2004.
   "The entire year you are vice president, you plan what you are going to do while you are president," said Dutton. "You have to be ready."
   Dutton's theme for the year is (Catch the Wave.) She is inviting all auxiliary members to catch the wave for a successful year in 2004-2005.
   "Being national president is a one-year opportunity. This is my only opportunity and I want to make the best of it."
   On her first trip to Oregon, Dutton found the mountains gorgeous as she flew into Redmond.
   "Everyone here is so laid back and nice," she said.
   While in Oregon, Dutton will also visit the VA hospital in The Dalles and will have lunch with auxiliary members in Wamick.
   "Meeting the members is my favorite part. I love to meet the members," she said.
   Beyond her life in the American Legion Auxiliary, Dutton is married to Dick Dutton, a past Post and Prince George's County Commander of the American Legion. In 2001 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but has not let it slow her down.
   Dutton has also been a marketing professional for 23 years with Summit Marketing. Once she became national president, Dutton had to turn her business, the one she had spent 23 years building, over to two colleagues.
   "That is a huge commitment for Sandi to give up her job for a year, not knowing what she's going back to," said Louise Carter, the American Legion Auxiliary of Oregon President.
   Dutton will spend the entire year traveling around the United States as well as a variety of countries meeting auxiliary members and encourages them to (catch the wave) at their local level of the auxiliary.
   "I enjoy meeting the ladies and getting to know them. Whatever they feel in the grass roots level should trickle up," said Dutton.
   "We're proud to have her here in Central Oregon," said Carter.
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