Ivy Baker Priest
Ivy Maude Baker Priest was treasurer of the United States during the Eisenhower administration. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Priest was born on September 7, 1905, in Kimberly, Utah. Her family moved to Coalville, Utah, and eventually to Bingham Canyon. She had an early involvement in politics when her mother, Clara Baker, sent her, at age ten, to babysit and perform errands for Republican voters at election time. Her mother ran a boarding house to help provide a living for her family. Priest took extension courses from the University of Utah after she graduated from high school in Bingham, Utah, a small mining town. When her father became ill, she took a job as a telephone operator and taught evening classes in American history and citizenship. She was elected a delegate to the 1932 GOP state convention. She ran for a seat in the Utah State House of Representatives in 1934. She was unsuccessful, however, but she was elected to be the co-chairman of the Young Republican Organization for eleven western states for a two-year term. She married Roy F. Priest in 1935 and they moved to Bountiful, Utah. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s she served in an assortment of positions with the Republican party. She was a leader in the movement to pass a minimum-wage law for women in Utah. She was elected as Utah Representative to the Republican National Committee. She served in this capacity from 1944 to 1953. In 1950 she ran against incumbent congresswoman Reva Beck Bosone in a race that attracted national attention as the only one that featured two women vying for the same seat in Congress. Priest was defeated, but took almost 47 percent of the vote.
She was also a leader in the 1952 GOP convention’s women’s division and was assistant chair of Eisenhower’s national campaign committee. In 1952, Eisenhower announced that he would appoint her as treasurer even before he was sworn in. She served from 1953 to 1961. Her husband died in 1959 and in 1961 she married Sidney Stevens, a Beverly Hills real estate agent.
After her appointment as U. S. Treasurer, Priest received honorary doctorate degrees from Elmira College in New York, Rider College in New Jersey, and Bryant College in Rhode Island.
In 1967, she became national chairman of the Easter Seals.
Priest won the election for treasurer in California in 1965. She was the first woman elected to a California high constitutional office. She worked on then-Governor Reagan’s administration for two terms (1966 to 1974), declining to run for a third term due to her health. She died from cancer on June 23, 1975.
She had two daughters and one son. Her daughter Pat Priest was a television actress, best known for her role on “The Munsters” television show.