Harvey’s Hero

Chi Omega is incredibly grateful to Sisters, neighbors, first-responders, and many more who have stepped up throughout Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to help with bravery and generosity.

One such Sister is Dr. Jennifer McQuade (Lambda Gamma | Virginia, pictured below on the left), an oncologist at Houston’s MD Anderson Center, who has been dubbed “Harvey’s Hero” by many in the community. The following was written about Sister McQuade on Facebook by fellow physician, Dr. Lourdes Eco-Jea on September 3, 2017:

“I wanted to share here first a story about a new friend I made about a very special Harvey Hero…Jennifer McQuade.

“She has been working nonstop literally since the early hours that this disaster hit. She was on the ground at George R Brown Convention (GRB) Center (walked from her home a mile away) when she heard that medical teams were needed to accept the first few evacuees….and initiated an overwhelming response during this tragedy. She just put out calls for help and assistance from GRB and brought complete strangers together working side by side.

“She has orchestrated such an amazing heroic response with the resources given her as hundreds and then thousands were bussed and unloaded out of metro buses and dump trucks. In a few hours, GRB was already double the capacity of 5,000 and still accepting more.

“I have nicknamed her so many names in these past few days…”corporate” because she was able with the help of another local Physician Mothers Group bring in much needed insulin and refrigeration (a rare commodity!) from reps of Sonofi, Lilly…almost like magic and the wave of her wand.

“[Another nickname] Wonder woman… From my ongoing texts with her and core group of heroes and brave boots-on-the-ground Physician Mothers Groupers she was literally flying from station to station at both the super shelters of GRB and NRG Park helping set up the initial medical response with donated medications from all over the city that we collected, sorted, and stocked (initially there was only Tylenol and ibuprofen and first aid kits).

“The evacuees were picked up in the early morning hours as the flood waters entered their homes and left them no time to take their own medications….they needed their injectable insulin, blood pressure meds, anti-seizure meds, antibiotics, and their psych meds…as well as trying to figure out what to do with other chronic medical issue needs of renal patients, chemo patients, special needs kids, nursing home residents, patients on long term tube feedings, etc…fellow colleagues posted their concerns and suggestions trying to seek solutions together in real time and virtual space. With her finesse, we were able to hold the fort until the Red Cross finally was able to mobilize their trucks and supplies through the flooded city…the following day it was the same response as we mobilized in a new super shelter at the NRG Center with a capacity of 10k.

“Today, I called her my Harvey Hero…she is running on fumes by now (day 5) along with her incredible and brave partners-in-crime Regina Troxell and Ashley Saucier … but because of her love for the city and the people that have welcomed her to her new home…she continued to run and make things happen. [She] brought in pallets of strollers and pack-n-plays so the kids could sleep without fear of falling off the cots or sleeping on a cold, damp floor….and even started to help mobilize the medical response team at the the Alexandria super shelter in Louisiana, sending shipments of the medications collected from Houston and also Oklahoma driven in by another Physician Mother’s Grouper Suzanne Cole across to another state!

“I know she will likely be one of the many unsung heroes during this unfathomable natural disaster…but I would like even for a minute highlight the wonderful and heroic role that this one individual has played. With so much division in our country these past few weeks…getting to know an individual with so much unselfish love and concern for others has truly restored my faith in our humanity and our capacity to give of ourselves for others. She is an angel.”

Learn & Give to Chi Omega

Check out the latest updates from the Chi Omega Foundation and how it supports Chi Omega Fraternity.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Help us reach 1,895 donors to reach our challenge! Give now!

Each gift of $15 or more will be matched by our Giving Tuesday Challenge Donors up to $27,000, amplifying the impact of your gift and helping to support leadership training and educational resources! All gifts support the Chi Omega Annual Fund.

Special thanks to our Giving Tuesday Challenge Donors

Jennifer Mueller Alderdice, Kappa Alpha/Kansas State

Jennifer credits Chi Omega for, “a lifetime of friendships and opportunities.”

After serving Kappa Alpha as secretary and president, and graduating with a degree in business management, Jennifer quickly became active volunteering for Chi Omega. She served on the Greater Kansas City Chi Omega Alumnae Association Board for a decade, including as its President. She then earned her master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Kansas and worked at the KU Alumni Association for nearly thirteen years doing student programs. Jennifer has been active with Lambda Chapter at Kansas for a number of years; she served on the Lambda House Corporation Board from 2010–2015 and has since served as Personnel Advisor. On a national level, Jennifer has served on the National Chi Omega Scholarship Selection Committee. She is also a Flagship graduate of The Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute.

It might be hard to understand someone who claims to be both a Wildcat and a Jayhawk. Jennifer shares, “I have had the privilege of working for both of my alma maters and putting together this Giving Tuesday Challenge has been a fun Sunflower Showdown (Kansas versus K-State.) I give back because Chi Omega has given me so much, and I enjoy seeing the impact Chi Omega has on students today!”

“Chi Omega transcends all our different institutions of higher education by uniting us through our Symphony. Whether we met in college or as alumnae, we all sing the same words to ‘Shades’ the same! Only Chi Omega friendships share that unique bond of Sisterhood, which is why I love celebrating being a donor, volunteer, and member of this organization. I hope you will also celebrate our unique bond by giving back on Giving Tuesday!”


Kelly Bingel, Phi Gamma/Louisiana State University

Kelly was Chi Omega Model Initiate in 1986. Since then, Kelly has continued to serve Chi Omega in a number of roles.  Kelly currently serves as a Chi Omega Foundation Trustee; represents Chi Omega on the Fraternity and Sorority PAC Board; 2013 Firesides leader; previous Congressional Awareness Committee leader; served on National Recruitment Team; former Chapter Visitor (i.e. National Leadership Consultant) 1989-1990; former Chapter President and Panhellenic delegate at LSU.

Kelly started her career as a newspaper reporter in Houston and Tulsa. She then transitioned to Washington, D.C., where she spent a decade working for Blanche Lincoln in the House and Senate. Kelly’s last position as a Congressional staff member was serving as Blanche’s chief of staff in the Senate. Kelly has also lobbied for AT&T and was the only woman partner in a bipartisan lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas. Kelly’s husband, Thad is a founding partner of Command Consulting Group. Kelly and Thad have two children, a son Johnny and daughter, Hogan. Kelly and Thad also opened Dynamic Gymnastics in 2013.

“I give to Chi Omega because I want Chi Omega to be around for future generations. College has gotten so expensive that we can’t expect collegians to fully fund the Fraternity through their dues. My husband loves to read The Eleusis as much as I do so we’re happy to give back to ensure alumnae and collegians can continue to benefit from Chi Omega membership. “

“Without fail, if I’m connecting with a volunteer at my children’s’ schools or at a community event where a strong woman speaks, I learn that woman is a Chi Omega. Some of my closest friends in Virginia are Chi Omegas from New Mexico, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Little did I know when I pledged in Louisiana, that I’d continue to make close friends through Chi Omega as I moved around.   And of course my sisters from LSU continue to be my first call when I’m struggling with a decision or want to share good news. I give to Chi Omega because our national strength has a positive impact on communities across America.”


Sabrina Lahiri, Mu/University of California, Berkeley

Sabrina Lahiri Field is a committed Chi Omega; an initiate of Mu Chapter at the University of California, Berkeley, Sabrina lived in the Chi Omega House for most of her undergraduate experience.  It is during this time Sabrina absorbed many of the life skills and leadership values that have catapulted her to a successful career as a physician and businesswoman.

Instilling thoughtful and productive concepts of character, leadership and good judgment in the hearts and minds of Chi Omega collegians has been a hallmark of Chi Omega membership.  Sabrina shares that commitment and understands this begins with the ability to make informed decisions in an increasingly complex world.

Sabrina is active in the Houston and The Woodlands Alumnae Chapter recently hosting the Eleusinian Celebration. Sabrina is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon; double boarded by The American Board of Surgery and The American Board of Plastic Surgery. Sabrina earned her BS in Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Her next studies were completing a General Surgery Residency at the University of Texas, San Antonio Health Sciences Center. She completed her Plastic Surgery Fellowship at the University of Miami in Florida. She created and built a medical facility, Lahiri Plastic Surgery, which includes her practice, licensed and certified surgical center, medical spa and overnight recovery retreat. Sabrina is married to Jimmy Field, a native Houstonian, who received his BS from Texas A&M and his medical degree from the University of Texas, San Antonio. He completed his General Surgery Residency at the University of Texas, San Antonio Health Science Center and is a General/Trauma Surgeon.


Kelli Nations, Alpha Alpha/University of North Texas

Kelli Nations is the HCA Gulf Coast Division Chief Nursing Executive. She is an initiate of Alpha Alpha Chapter at University of North Texas. Kelli has earned additional degrees from Texas Woman’s University and is obtaining her Doctorate of Business Administration with a focus in Leadership Development from Northcentral University.

Her career is a study of leadership in her profession, as well as in the various communities in which she has worked and served. She is heavily dedicated to supporting and mentoring women to become leaders.  Kelli supports leadership development at all points in a Chi Omega’s lifetime and knows that the leadership education and experiences provided through Chi Omega are invaluable in creating an excellent foundation for further development.

Kelli states “I am truly committed to identifying and developing leadership skills for women early in their college career.  I believe membership in Chi Omega provides a unique opportunity for women to develop strong relationships and begin cultivating leadership skills that will serve them well in every aspect of their life.  These relationships and skills allow us to be better leaders in our homes, communities, and work.”

Giving back to an organization that has provided fabulous experiences, lifelong friends, and leadership development is a priority for Kelli and her family. They truly believe Chi Omega is a worthwhile organization for their financial commitment.

Kelli and her husband, John, have been married 25 years and live in The Woodlands with their seventeen-year old daughter Abigail, and are active members of The Ridge Community Church. Kelli also has two sisters who are Chi Omega Alpha Alpha/U of North Texas and Psi Zeta/U of Houston initiates.

“I do believe Chi Omegas possess certain characteristics that I am drawn to even today.  I love visiting with my local alumnae chapter, and I frequently identify a Chi Omega within my healthcare industry or social interactions, and there is always an immediate connection.    There just really is no other organization that allows you to have an immediate set of friends when you join a new community.  I feel so fortunate to be part of such a dynamic organization for women.”

Your Investment in Chi Omega Strengthens Every Chapter!

Your gifts to the Chi Omega Annual Fund support:

  • Leadership – Provide access to premier leadership opportunities for Sisters of all ages, including The Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega.
  • Decision Making and Risk Management – Help members navigate the challenges facing all young women today with knowledge and confidence to make informed and safe decisions.
  • Member Development and Education – Support training for key chapter leaders through national meetings and volunteer-led teams.
  • Sustaining the Fraternity through Emerging Needs – Fund the immediate needs of the Fraternity. These dollars allow for a swift response to maintain a high degree of excellence for our membership.

Your gifts to the Annual Fund allow the Fraternity to provide engaging, thought-provoking content, ultimately helping our members make wise choices during college and beyond.

Chi Omega has almost 125 years of Sisterhood to celebrate, and the hallmark of our beloved Fraternity has been and is our commitment to helping each other cultivate a lifetime of purpose.

Thank you, Sisters, for helping keep Chi Omega strong.

Did you know that in 2017 the Chi Omega Foundation received 11,683 gifts of $100 and below which provided $374,867!

Every gift of any size makes a difference!

Convention Owl Tree Challenge

Special thanks to our Owl Tree Challenge Donors.

Kimberly Yamanouchi, Iota Alpha/SMU
Kimberly, an initiate of Iota Alpha/SMU continues to serve Chi Omega in a variety of volunteer positions. Kimberly is a current member of the Foundation Donor Relations Committee; past Board Member for the Dallas Alumnae Chapter; past Co-Chairman of Chi Omega Christmas Market (1996); past House Corporation Board Member for Iota Alpha/SMU; and member of the Margaret Hyde Heritage Society.

“Jim and I believe that small gifts can make transformative changes in lives. Growing up my parents always told me that “God gives you two hands; the first hand to help yourself and the second hand is to help others. I’ve tried to live my life as my parents have lived all their lives. Even though both came from poor families, they have a philanthropic heart.”

After a professional career of 25 years at UT Southwestern Medical Center as an anesthesiologist in obstetrical anesthesiology, Associate Director of Obstetrical Anesthesiology and a past faculty senator, Kimberly retired as faculty and is now caring for her aging parents and taking classes toward an MBA. Kimberly is married to Jim Sackett who is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with the Carrell Clinic (private practice). They have one son, Barton H. Sackett II.

Susan Ruhne, Iota Delta/San Jose State
San Francisco alumna Susan Ruhne has served Chi Omega in many capacities. From Chapter Advisor at Mu/Cal Berkeley to President of the San Francisco Alumnae Chapter or a National Volunteer, Susan is truly a Sister on purpose.

“Chi Omega has been a part of my life since I joined in 1985 at San Jose State,” Susan says. “For me, many times in my varied career I’ve had bosses look at me and ask, ‘How do you know how to do that?’ and my answer is always Chi Omega! I still have close friends from college, but also have made amazing friendships with women I’ve met through alumnae groups and national participation. These Sisters and friends are there no matter what life throws at me.”

As an employee of Salesforce in San Francisco, Susan was one of just 100 top employees who fulfill a rigorous volunteer schedule to be awarded a $10,000 grant from Salesforce to share with the non-profit of her choice – we are so grateful that Susan chose the Chi Omega Foundation for this honor. When asked why she chooses to give back to Chi Omega, Susan has a simple response – “because Chi Omega keeps giving back to me.”

Rosalyn Ray Donaldson, Psi Gamma/Mercer
Rosalyn is an enthusiastic alumna who has become more involved with Chi Omega over the last few years. She gives to the Chi Omega Foundation because she considers this as a way to support the present and future of our Fraternity.

“In years past, when I received phone calls from Sisters thanking me for small gifts, I was amazed that these meager amounts warranted calls of appreciation. At Convention 2016 in Orlando, I immediately felt the impact, the truthfulness of Sisterhood, and understood the meaning Sisterhood Never Stops. When I left, I had re-connected with Chi Omega, and have since grown in my appreciation for our Symphony, the ideals of our Fraternity, and the joys and love of Sisterhood.”

“I feel it incumbent upon me to help younger women embrace Chi Omega as a lifetime of strength, support, and love, and to remain in the loving arms of our Fraternity. I want all Sisters to understand that Chi Omega is a way of life that can enhance the journey of living. As we contribute to the viable Chi Omega, we are inspiring the younger generations to carry the torch of a Sisterhood that never ends.”

Founders’ Day Challenge 2018

The results are in! Thank you again for your tremendous efforts in making this Founders’ Day Challenge a success – we owe it to you, Sisters!


Leadership Training: Spotlight on The Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of  Chi Omega

Here is one story of how our beloved Fraternity’s leadership program impacted collegiate member Lydia Hite, President of the Xi Theta/South Dakota State University chapter (pictured far left).

What leadership skills did you gain through your chapter’s workshop from The Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega?

This workshop opened the door to what a true leader in Chi Omega should be, and how to emulate the Chi Omega Symphony. I never would’ve dreamed I’d serve as my chapter’s President, let alone gain the skills I have developed.

What changes have you seen in your chapter following the workshop?

Each member was eager to make changes so we could see our chapter thrive. The skills we each took to heart gave us the confidence to represent Chi Omega strongly and proudly. Whether leadership means serving on the Executive Board or simply reaching out to help at an event, each Sister gained the understanding that it is vital to have all kinds of leaders to ensure that our chapter continues to gain knowledge and to grow.

Your gift today can shape future Chi Omega leaders. I am so proud of how we come together to deliver invaluable educational resources to our younger Sisters.

Join me in supporting Sisters like Lydia as they become strong leaders who step confidently into new roles throughout their lives.





Letitia Fulkerson
Foundation President

Online Alcohol Education

Below, read from current collegians about the effectiveness of the online alcohol education each and every Chi Omega collegian receives on an annual basis.

Learn more about Chi Omega’s Risk Management programs here.

Sisters Helping Sisters: Harvey’s Hero

Chi Omega is sending love, thoughts, and prayers to our tens of thousands of Sisters who have felt the direct impact of recent Presidentially-declared natural disasters. We know many of our Sisters have been displaced, and we have already received several requests for financial assistance from Sisters impacted by Hurricane Harvey alone. Many of our Sisters impacted by Hurricane Irma and Maria are just now getting back electricity and we anticipate many more requests for assistance in the coming weeks.

We are incredibly grateful to Sisters, neighbors, first responders, and many more who have stepped up to help with bravery and generosity.

One such Sister is Dr. Jennifer McQuade (Lambda Gamma | Virginia, pictured below on the left), an oncologist at Houston’s MD Anderson Center, who has been dubbed “Harvey’s Hero” by many in the community.

“The first day of the storm, as Harvey swamped Houston, she [Jennifer] made her way to the city’s emergency shelter to donate blankets and socks. When she arrived, she found a chaotic scene. Evacuees were being delivered in the back of dump trucks, soaking wet and sometimes wounded, but, as McQuade discovered, there was no medical team in place.

So McQuade was spurred into action. She got on Facebook and made an urgent plea for help to the Physician Moms Group, some 70,000 women strong, all across the country (‘women doctors, getting it done,’ she says with a grin.)”

To read more about this extraordinary Sister visit click here or read NPR’s recent article about Jennifer’s efforts.

In that same spirit, Sisters around the country have asked how they can help their fellow Chi Omegas in need.

The Helping Hands Fund for Disaster Relief was created to assist Chi Omega alumnae and collegians who are suddenly in financial need due to Presidentially-declared disasters, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Consider giving to The Helping Hands Fund for Disaster Relief and your gift will directly benefit these Sisters and help them start anew.

Congratulations to our 2017 Award-Winning Chapters!

Congratulations to our 2017 Chapters of Excellence and Certificate of Advancement Winners! We could not be more proud of our chapters receiving these Chi Omega honors! Share with your chapter and Sisters to celebrate!

Chapters of Excellence:


Certificate of Advancement:


75-Year Member Recognition

Read stories of Chi Omegas recognizing our members celebrating 75 years of Chi Omega membership in 2016, below! Stay tuned for touching stories and photos from our 2017 75-year member visits.

Sister Katherine Singer

On April 29, 2017, eight Chi Omega alumnae from the Mobile, Alabama Alumnae Chapter had the honor of visiting Katherine Phillips Singer- Alpha Beta 1942, to celebrate her 75th year as a Chi Omega sister. Katherine is a native of Mobile, Alabama and attended Auburn University during World War II. A master story teller, she shared what it was like to attend college during the war years with very few male students around! Most dates were found from nearby Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. For one Chi Omega formal, seven paratroopers from Fort Benning brought their dates silk stockings, cigarettes, and Kleenex—treasures during the war, and the envy of all the other sisters at the dance! She served as Rush Chairman her senior year. She was the only Chi Omega majoring in Home Economics, so “every time any food had to be served, I got the job!”, she said.

After graduating from Auburn, Katherine returned to Mobile to “provide daycare for Rosie the Riveter’s children” at the shipyards in her hometown. After the war ended, she taught home economics and then worked as an airline stewardess for Waterman Steamship Corporation until she married her husband, Harvey Singer. They returned to Mobile and Katherine opened an antique store which she owned for many years.

Katherine’s daughter,  Susan Singer Pearson, and her granddaughter, Jenny Pearson Harmon     were also Chi Omegas at Auburn—three generations of Alpha Betas. A photo of them was featured  in the Eleusis and Katherine has a framed copy of it proudly displayed in her home.

In her later years, Katherine played a prominent role in the Ken Burns documentary, “The War” on PBS. Her charming personality and beautiful Southern accent were a bright spot in this show about the Greatest Generation.

We presented Katherine with her 75-year certificate and then we all gathered in a circle to sing “Shades” which brought tears to all of our eyes. It was a memorable afternoon- one we will all cherish!

Written by Kim McKinney

Sister Claudie Kolowich

Dressed in a lovely shade of red , Sister Claudie Kolowich was recently honored at a celebration that recognized her 75 years of service in Chi Omega.

With several of her adoring sisters by her side, Kolowich and several dear friends took a stroll down memory lane.

Kolowich was initiated into the sorority January 30, 1941 in Sigma Gamma Chapter at Ohlethorpe College, Atlanta, Ga., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce. She served as the chapter’s president in 1942. In this role, she inspired countless members to reach for the stars.

During the celebration, Kolowich was presented with a beautiful bouquet of white carnations, a cake, and a certificate of recognition and appreciation from the Chi Omega National Headquarters.

On display at the event were some of Kolowich’s most treasured possessions, including her college yearbooks, her sorority pin, and several photographs from her trips to the Chi Omega National Convention.

What a beautiful event for a beautiful lady!

Sister Frances Blount

On May, 23, 2016 in Birmingham, Alabama,  Chi Omega alumni Laura Bryan (Zeta Zeta), Bug Greer (Beta Theta), Cheryl Landreth (Zeta Zeta), Helen Pittman (Nu Beta) and Cathy Randall (Nu Beta) visited Mrs. Frances Dean Blount, Nu Beta, University of Alabama to celebrate her 75 years as a Chi Omega.

We were so surprised when she answered the door!   Frances Blount is beautiful, vivacious and youthful!   We should not have been surprised since we knew before our visit she had recently returned from a cruise and was leaving the next day for a trip to North Carolina.  She leads a very full and active life!

Frances recalled meeting her future husband, the late Houston Blount,  at a Chi Omega/Sigma Nu pledge swap.  They were married 67 years and had five children, 16 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren.

Frances had an older sister who was also a Chi Omega at the University of Alabama.  She said during her sophomore and junior years the college campus changed dramatically as many young men left college for World War II.    One of her fondest memories of Chi Omega was her housemother, Carrie Mae Wright.  She said Carrie Mae was a wonderful, sweet, lovely lady that made all of the Sisters want to be nothing less.

What a joy it was to spend time celebrating with this wonderful Chi Omega Sister!

Sister Helen Till

It was a treat to hear about Mrs. Till’s graduation from the University of Wisconsin followed by a move to Chicago where she lived in an apartment with five friends. It was there that she met her husband, a medical student from Alabama, who completed his medical studies at Northwestern. She spoke fondly of moving to Montgomery and seeing an invitation in the paper to a Chi Omega Alumnae Meeting. The Chi O sisters she met in Alabama at that meeting became some of her very first friends.

Sister Ila Mae Purcell

We had a wonderful time visiting with Ila Mae Purcell yesterday in Tempe, Arizona  celebrating her 75thanniversary with Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity.

She told us fun stories about growing up on a small farm in Colorado and getting a scholarship to the University of Colorado, Boulder. She even served as G.H. and attended Chi Omega Convention in her day. She still loves playing the piano and she played us a few songs.  She also enjoys drinking wine with her friends and going to the opera. She’s going to be a great-grandmother soon and she said that’s what keeps her going.

It was a lovely afternoon – such a great idea! Ila Mae said she was the talk of the town/retirement community and carries around her certificate and bragging to her neighbors. She told Lindsay that our visit gave her a renewed sense of hope and urge to keep going in general.

Sister Susan Blumgren


We had a wonderful time visiting with Susan Blumgren in Scottsdale, Arizona  celebrating her 75th anniversary with Chi Omega women’s fraternity and coincidently her 94th birthday.

We spent a few hours with her touring the facility where she lives and talking about the wonderful life she has lived.

She talked about  graduating from The University of Iowa with a degree in chemistry. She had intended to major in music or home economics but really liked Chemistry and became a Pharmacist. She retired at the age of 89!   She met her husband a doctor while she was working as a Pharmacist. They lived in Cottonwood and Scottsdale Arizona.

They had 2 children together a son and daughter. She also has 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

Susan has 2 cats that keep her company Mars and Tig. She also enjoys puzzles and reading. She still receives the Eleusis and looks forward to reading it.

Pictured in the group photo from left to right: Sydney Gray, Arizona State University, Psi Epsilon Chapter; Anna Sickler, Stanford University, Nu Alpha Chapter; Susan Blumgren, University of Iowa, Psi Beta Chapter; Lucy Gordon, SMU, Iota Alpha Chapter; Caroline Lucas Meyer, APSU, Sigma Kappa Chapter

Congratulations, Susan Blumgren!!!

Chi Omega love,

Caroline Lucas Meyer

Sister Deb Louise Paula

“Once a Chi Omega, always a Chi Omega” were words of Mrs. Louise Brooks (Epsilon Alpha Chapter/University of Oklahoma) that resonated in every moment as Deb Leslie (Tau Chapter/University of Mississippi) and Paula Brooks Lee (Psi Chapter/University of Arkansas), Louise’s daughter, gathered on May 7, 2016, to celebrate her 75th year membership.

Mrs. Brooks spoke of her younger years growing up on a peach farm in Oklahoma, moving to the “big city” for community college, and starting at the University of Oklahoma to finish her nutrition degree.  We all flipped through her pledge scrapbook that included pledge class and chapter photos, fraternity dance cards, initiation notes from actives, her 50-year membership card, and much more precious memorabilia.  Common trends throughout the chapter were lush pin-curl wave hairstyles and saddle oxfords with tall socks.  It was common for many not to have a car while attending the university, and Mrs. Brooks thought this made everyone a close-knit group.  Mrs. Paula Lee explained that she heard her mom only started dating her father in college because he had a car.  Mrs. Brooks was also an active alum who served as an adviser for the Psi Chapter.  She now enjoys playing bridge and spending time with family.  We all loved sharing our sisterhood camaraderie and celebrating Mrs. Brooks’s amazing milestone!

Sister Virginia Rand Smith

In Fayetteville, Arkansas, a group of Chi Omegas gathered to recognize Mrs. Virginia Rand Smith, Psi, ’41, as a 75-year member of Our Sisterhood.  We met at the historic Inn at Carnall Hall on the University of Arkansas campus.   Refreshments with a Chi O theme were served, including petit fours with Mrs. Smith’s pin number.   We presented her with her certificate from National and a bud vase with carnations.

Mrs. Smith recalled that the Chapter House did not have many bedrooms at that time, so she lived nearby in the Scott House.   She was in the Chapter House often for study hall and other events.  Her favorite memory of the House is spending time with Sisters in the Old Attic.  Dancing was a most important dating activity.  Dances were held on campus because few people had cars.  She told us of one dancing evening that she and her Lambda Chi date practiced quite a long time in order to enter the dance contest.  Unknown to her, her date had a bottle of liquor in his pocket that fell out during their dance.  Apparently, they did not win, but had a very memorable evening.

A highlight of the day was a golf cart campus tour for Mrs. Smith.  As a part of the tour, she was able to see the newly renovated Chi Omega Greek Theatre.  She asked us if we knew that there was a rifle range under the Greek Theatre, and most of us did not know that.  As we drove away, I believe she said that some other things went on under the Greek Theatre too!!

Mrs. Smith was absolutely delightful and shared many memories with us.   It was truly an honor for each one of us to meet and visit with our amazing Sister.

Mrs. Virginia Rand Smith, Psi ‘41

Standing beside Mrs. Smith: Mary Pearce Stockland, Psi ‘68; Judy Singleton, Psi Delta  ‘67

2nd Row: Paula Finkbeiner McRae, Psi ‘68; Martha Alfin Wann, Psi ‘70; Anna Beth Hilburn, Psi ’14  – Active; Betsy Burroughs Penix, Psi ‘69

3rd Row: Paula Irwin, Psi ‘75; Ann Hartenstein Morrison, Psi ‘69; Gwyn Brinkley Wood, Psi ‘68

4th Row: Sonya Jones, Psi ‘71; Spencer Epes Higginbothom, Psi ‘69; Rhonda Carney Lee, Psi ‘71

Last Row (top): Betsy Lavender, Psi ‘89; Janet Brown, Psi Chapter House Mother

Sister Betty Thurber

First, let me tell you something about my experience with Chi Omega.  I entered the University of California, Berkeley, as a freshman in the fall of 1989 and also joined Chi Omega.  There were six (6) other freshman pledges at the time.  I then graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy.  I finally attended law school at the University of California, Davis, and have been practicing law for almost sixteen (16) years.

I signed up to meet with Betty Thurber in Bakersfield, California.  I finally met up with her in the late morning of June 7, 2016.  I stopped by her home.  Mrs. Thurber was very gracious, insisting that she did not want to take up too much of my time.  I explained to her that the visit was not burdensome and, in fact, was one to which I was looking forward.  I asked her to pick anywhere that she may want to go for a coffee or an ice cream.  Mrs. Thurber chose to get a chocolate frosty from Wendy’s.  I obliged her and got a vanilla frosty for myself.

Mrs. Thurber and I sat down and spoke for over an hour.  Mrs. Thurber explained that she had been born and raised in Georgia.  When she was eighteen (18) years old, she and her family (consisting of her mother and father and three (3) siblings) up and moved to Arizona.  They did so because Mrs. Thurber’s sister suffered from poor sinuses and it was believed that the desert air would repair the physical ailment.  Thereby, Mrs. Thurber then applied to and attended college at the University of Arizona.  She also joined Chi Omega.  She has fond memories of her time at Chi Omega and of her friends at Chi Omega.  In fact, she still remains in touch with a Chi Omega sister who lives in Arizona.  Mrs. Thurber then met her future husband, Mr. Thurber, at the University of Arizona.  Mr. Thurber was in the College of Agriculture.  After graduation, Mr. and Mrs. Thurber moved to California.  Mr. Thurber was the head cattle rancher for a cattle ranch located in El Tejon, California.  Mr. and Mrs. Thurber had two (2) sons and one (1) daughter.  After living in El Tejon for about twenty-five years, Mr. and Mrs. Thurber moved to Grass Valley, California, to be near some of their grandchildren.  Therefore, the Thurbers were able to attend soccer games and piano recitals of those grandchildren.  Ultimately, Mr. and Mrs. Thurber moved to Bakersfield, California, and settled there.  Mrs. Thurber feels blessed to have met such a good man as Mr. Thurber and to have had such a good marriage.  Unfortunately, her husband, Mr. Thurber, passed away about twenty (20) years ago.

I would like to complete this email by expressing that Mrs. Thurber is a kind person who has grace and class.  She is sharp as a whip and interesting, to boot.  I am privileged to have met and to have spent time with her.

I have attached a photograph of us that was taken during our visit.

Kind regards,

Jessica Hartnett

Sister Gladys Runkel

April 26, 2016

Gladys Severson Runkel was initiated in 1941 by Nu Chapter, University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI and currently lives in Huntington Harbor, California.  We had the privilege of spending the entire afternoon with Gladys and sharing a lovely tea which Hayley Dawn Thomas, Chi Zeta, Colorado State and Susan Carroll, Phi, Univ. of Sou. Calif. provided. Also in attendance as Glady’s guests were good friends of hers, Yvonne Vanwey and her husband Don Vanwey on vacation here from Arizona and another good friend, Alma Francis.

Gladys entertained in grand fashion and was quick to share some stories of her time in the house in Madison.  One Sunday, after her family had left to return home, she went upstairs to her room and turned on the radio to listen to “Rosie” as she called President Roosevelt and ended up hearing his very famous “Day in Infamy” speech.

After graduation, Gladys and four of her sorority sisters, moved to Chicago.  Gladys had received a degree in Social Work and ended up working for her sister Mildred administering to families and children receiving assistance during the war.  She was living in a Residence Hotel on Lakeshore Dr., where in addition to single girls, many of the service personnel attached to the Armory there, lived in other Residence Hotels along the street.  She said there was never a time when there weren’t  plenty of handsome boys to see.

Her sister, Mildred was married to Ben Runkel and she and Ben re-introduced his brother John to  Gladys while she was still living in Chicago.  She had been in school from Kindergarten through the 12th grade with John and thought he was the cutest boy in Chicago.  When they met again, he was so taken with her, they married within the year. John was an engineer and they travelled all over the world and the US together.  They never had any children.   They were married for 65 years and Gladys lost him in 2013 at the age of 91.

Gladys is 94 years young and still drives a car.  She attends Church every Sunday.  She was trying to figure out what to do for her 94th Birthday and wanted to go Skydiving, however, was afraid she might end up like George H.W. Bush, in the old wheelchair so she changed her mind and went for a Motorcycle ride instead.  She said she really wanted to go zip lining for her 95th Birthday which comes shortly on July 16, 2016.  But suspects her nephew may take her to Hawaii instead, because its much safer.

After tea, she asked Hayley and I to show her the secret handshake.  She was like a mischievous little girl.  The three of us disappeared into the kitchen and Hayley and I showed her the handshake.

Gladys was so charming and welcoming and we had such a wonderful afternoon.  She was beyond thrilled with her certificate and thanks National for thinking of her and hopes that all her friends from Madison, who are still alive enjoy their presentation as much as she did hers.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan M. Carroll, Phi ’65
University of Southern California