A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
EMMA K. BLAISE. No history of Iowa and its prominent citizens would be
considered at all complete did it not contain a review of the somewhat remarkable
career of Mrs. Emma K. Blaise, superintendent of accounts and finances of
the City Council of Des Moines. It is true that in these modern times it is
not an uncommon thing to note a woman holding high public office, but Mrs.
Blaise's career in municipal and state work stretches back over a period of more
than thirty years, during which time she has been connected in one or
another capacity with many governmental departments.
Mrs. Blaise was born near Sigourney, Iowa, on a farm, in 1868, and is a
daughter of Charles and Albertina Killmer, the latter a native of Germany. Her
father, a native of Missouri, came to Iowa at an early day and here spent the
remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits. He and his wife, who is also
deceased, were faithful members of the Lutheran Church, and the parents of
five children, of whom Emma K. was the second in order of birth.
Mrs. Blaise received her education in the public schools of her native
community, and since then has taken several correspondence school courses,
including shorthand and law, and in addition has prepared herself for her line of
reporting conventions. In this connection it may be stated that she has
reported banking, agricultural and other large and important conventions. In 1889
she was united in marriage with J. Phillip Blaise, who was born on a farm near
Sigourney. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, but did not
practice, preferring instead the calling of court reporter, which he followed for
many years. He was a man of excellent abilities and attended the University of
Iowa. Mr. Blaise passed away in December, 1922, leaving one son: Karl P.,
of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, now assistant secretary of the Inter-Ocean Reinsurance
Company of that city.
Following her marriage Mrs. Blaise joined her husband in a general court
reporting business for some years, during which she became acquainted with many of the prominent men of the city and state, and gradually drifted into politics. The State Board of Control was established in 1898 and Mrs. Blaise was actively connected with the board during its organization period. Since then she has been continuously engaged in convention reporting, political headquarters service or the incumbent of some state or city position, in all of which she has established a remarkable record for energy, efficiency and judgment.
In 1913 she entered the capitol as pardon clerk, and held that position until 1919, when she was made secretary to the governor, being the first woman to secure such an appointment under the statutes. She remained in the
governor's office during three different administrations, and in January, 1925, was appointed reporter to the Grand Jury. In November, 1927, she was appointed to the Des Moines City Council as finance commissioner or superintendent of accounts and finances, and was elected to this office in March, 1928, and re-elected in March, 1930. Mrs. Blaise is a staunch Republican in her political views, and since girlhood has been greatly interested in state, city and national affairs. She has read extensively and is probably one of the best informed persons in Des Moines on subjects of this nature.
Mrs. Blaise is a member of the Lutheran Church and active in its work. She
is also a member of the Women's Club, the Business and Professional Women's
Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Young Women's Christian Association, the
Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Women's Rotary Club.
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