Sarah Lucille Turner (1898-1972)

Sarah Lucille Turner was born on March 28, 1898 in Centralia, Illinois. Her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri when she was ten. She graduated from Northeast High School with honors in 1915 and Kansas City Law School in 1922. She took a job with the Hagerman & Jost Law offices and like fellow legislator Mellcene Smith, was elected to the legislature just a few months after law school graduation.

   

Turner differed in being unmarried.  She was the youngest legislator and also set a state precedent by being the first woman to preside over the Missouri House, on March 16, 1923.  She was assigned to significant committees, including Civil and Criminal Procedure, Constitution Amendments and Criminal Jurisprudence, and chaired the Children's Code Committee.

   

Turner lost her 1924 re-election bid. She moved to New York and then to Washington, D.C. In 1932, she married Walter C. Jepson, a real estate agent and Air Force veteran. She worked as the secretary for the publisher of Newsweek and rose to personnel manager, a position she held until she retired at 65.  She and her husband moved to North Carolina, where Turner died on April 12, 1972 – a half-century and far away from her experience as a Missouri legislator. 

Image credit: Missouri Women's Council.