I had intended to include the secretary to the chief of police as a part of the 1925 police administration, but after checking out her background, decided that she deserved an entry of her own.
The official history tells us that the first WSPD female police officer was Gloria Robbins, sworn in in 1947. But two years before she joined the force, Miss Kate Wurreschke retired with the rank of lieutenant.
Miss Kate may have been a bit demure in 1925, but her later career speaks for itself. As always, click for full size image.
Miss Kate’s father Ludwig, a Moravian missionary in Jamaica, came to Salem in the 1870s, where he served for a time as a teacher of math and natural science and headmaster of the boys school. He and his wife Josephine (French language) both also taught at the Salem Female Academy.
Miss Kate’s sister Margaret graduated from Salem College and worked as a secretary and office manager at the Ogburn Hill Tobacco Company until they were absorbed by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, when she became private secretary to the president of the company, William Neal Reynolds. When Mr. Will retired, so did she.
Miss Kate graduated from Salem College in 1898. According to her obituary, her lifetime watchword was “Woman is possessed by the urge that she must have a finger in every pie, her name in every pot and a part in every project; otherwise, pies will prove unpalatable, pots refuse to boil, projects fall short of their ultimate goal.”
She pretty much lived up to that by repeatedly stepping into situations where women previously had feared to tread. She became the first female stenographer in the Forsyth County courts. Then she became the first woman to work in a local bank, employed by the legendary Colonel William A. Blair at the People’s National Bank.
During World War I, she went to work as the first female clerk for the Southern Railway. “No girl had ever been employed in a railway office in this city,” she once said. “This was quite a daring step. Before I left I had done just about every kind of railway station work except trucking freight.”
She was also the first woman to work for another local legend, Colonel J.L. Ludlow, the father of the consolidation of Winston and Salem into the city of Winston-Salem. And she did a stint as an architectural assistant with the brilliant Katharine Smith Reynolds. But all that was just warmup.
Her life truly took off when she became the first female employee of the Winston-Salem Police department in 1924. Her official title was secretary to the chief of police. But that only lasted about five minutes. Since she was the only female on the force, she immediately was put in charge of any women arrested and taken to jail. Soon she was in charge of all juvenile cases.
Record keeping had not been a top priority before, so she began keeping accurate records of what went on in the department. Eventually she was relieved of her secretarial duties so that she could devote most of her time to creating the police records department. Before her retirement in 1945, she was given the rank of police lieutenant.
At her funeral, W.R. Burke, who was a detective captain when when she retired, told a local reporter “Miss Kate was really a fireball…she was a whizz-banger…very efficient. She didn’t always agree with us (men) and we didn’t always agree with her, but we got along fine.”
Miss Kate died on January 13, 1965. She is buried in the Salem God’s Acre.