Sisters Who Serve the World: Mary Evelyn White & Mary Anne Culpepper


Front Row: [L-R] Mary Evelyn Merritt White, Iota ’61 – Personnel Advisor; Mary Anne Massengale Culpepper, Iota ’59 – Rush Advisor, House Corp. Member*; Patsy Wren Potts, Iota ’57 -Forms & Records Advisor,  House Corp. Member*
Back Row: Kay Couger Hamilton, Kappa Zeta ’62 – Asst. Rush Advisor; Pat Rembert Hamilton**, Special Initiate Xi Kappa ’75 – Social Advisor; Susan Couger Tremont Jackson, Iota ’70, Financial Advisor, House Corp. Member*; Cathy Conway Jackson, Sigma Theta ’70 – Pledge Advisor; Beverley Cardwell Straub, Epsilon Zeta ’68 – Scholarship Advisor
*House Corporation Members:  House Corporation was formed in 1976, so at the time of the picture, it had not yet been formed.

Mary Evelyn White and Mary Anne Culpepper (both Iota | Texas). Both Sisters began advising at Xi Kappa | Texas A&M in its infancy, more than 40 years ago, and have helped lead the chapter to become one of the highest performing chapters at one of the largest schools in the state.

Mary Evelyn White and Mary Anne Culpepper began their Chi Omega days together at the University of Texas back in the early 60’s and that was just the beginning for this dynamic duo. Mary Evelyn and Mary Anne were in the chapter together. Mary Anne was Rush Chair when Mary Evelyn pledged. Mary Evelyn went on to serve as Personnel Chairman and G.H.  They were also involved in service organizations during their college days and they have continued to serve their communities and Chi Omega ever since.

As young brides, both Mary Evelyn and Mary Anne ended up living in College Station, TX, the home of Texas A&M University. They each connected with area Chi Omegas and became involved with the local Panhellenic group. In the late 60’s, there were no sororities on the A&M campus as women were only admitted beginning in 1963. Members of the Panhellenic group began to discuss the need for more social activities for the relatively small group of women on campus. They approached the TAMU Dean on Women to determine the interest of sororities. After their initial questionnaires, only 3 out of 700 women expressed an interest!

Three years later, four NPC groups were recruiting members and starting colonies on the Texas A&M campus.  Mary Evelyn along with other local Chi Omega alumnae worked with Winnie Bowker, S.H., to gain the support of Chi Omega to move forward with colonization. Mary Anne was eager to help recruit an advisory board to assist with the new chapter. In 1975, The Xi Kappa Chapter of Chi Omega was installed with our very own Shelley Eubanks Potter serving as a Charter Member.

In 1979, six sororities had purchased land and Chi Omega was able to build a chapter house. All of the local Chi Omega leaders worked hard to show the university examples of good citizenship and Chi Omega’s national and local high standards and restrictions for housing as well as the commitment to provide leadership and supervision for these young women and their living quarters.

From the beginning, Mary Evelyn and Mary Anne along with other dedicated Chi Omega alumnae, worked seamlessly to recruit potential members by hosting parties, planning interviews and meetings all while showing them the excellence and joyfulness that waited them as Chi Omega Sisters. After pledging these young women, the founding advisors became big sisters and mentors to the new members and were fondly thought of as aunts, older sisters and even second mothers.

As founding advisors for Xi Kappa Chapter, Mary Evelyn served as Personnel Advisor from 1975 to 1990, and  Mary Anne served as the Recruitment Advisor from 1975 to 1998. These Sisters continue to serve Chi Omega and their communities in meaning and purposeful ways!

Looking back over the last forty-two years, Mary Evelyn and Mary Ann are so proud of the chapter they helped begin in 1975 and are so grateful for all the wonderful women that helped along the way. The goal for the chapter was to build a strong, loving and caring sisterhood with character, integrity and leadership that was unique. Their example of service has influenced thousands of Chi Omega and their legacy of service will live on for generations of Chi Omegas to come!

Mary Evelyn White is a former Supreme Governing Council member serving as S.T.B., former chair of the Executive Headquarters Building Committee and current Executive Headquarters chair. She is the interior designer for the Executive Headquarter, both for the original construction and furnishings as well as for the most recent renovations and furnishings. Mary Evelyn currently serves as the Xi Kappa House Corporation President. Mary Evelyn was also awarded the Outstanding Personnel Advisor Award in 1990 and was the 1996 recipient of the Chi Omega President’s Award.

Mary Anne served as Recruitment Advisor for both Iota Chapter and Xi Kappa Chapter. She also served as a former Area Recruitment Information Chair and served as the Xi Kappa House Corporation Treasurer. Mary Anne currently serves as the Xi Kappa Panhellenic Advisor and as the Xi Kappa House Corporation Vice President. Mary Anne was also awarded the Outstanding Recruitment Advisor Award in 1994.

Sisters Who Serve the World: Nicole Smith

Nicole Smith (Alpha Lambda | Valparaiso). Nicole began a day of service and acts of kindness in honor or her daughter, Olive, who lived a short but meaningful life. Nicole also brings attention to infant bereavement and parenting and pregnancy loss through speaking engagements and writing contributions.

In July 2014 after a textbook pregnancy, I delivered our firstborn child. Olive was born unresponsive and unexpectedly passed away 36 hours later. My world was rocked, to say the least. I had prayed for and dreamed of this baby for so long and then she was just gone. I recognized I had two choices: I could stifle my grief or I could share it; I chose to share it. I began my blog Olive and Her Branches as a way to process my grief and to help educate others on infant loss, pregnancy loss (we’ve had three miscarriages) and parenting after loss (the joys and challenges of having a child after loss).

As the first anniversary of Olive’s birth and death approached in 2015, we asked people to do an act of kindness in her memory. I set up a Facebook event to help us see the beautiful ways people were spreading joy and love by using the hashtag #olivesbranches. We were blown away at the response. That first year, thousands of people all over the world spread kindness as a way to remember her and other babies/children that had been lost. It was beautiful; we witnessed everything from paying for someone’s Starbucks to delivering bottled water to local homeless shelters. We even had someone anonymously pay tuition for children to attend a private day school in our community!

What amazed me so much was the support I received from my Chi Omega Sisters. Both my initiating chapter and the chapter I advise showed support for our #olivesbranches day on their social media pages, and sisters that I hadn’t seen or talked to since college were posting the amazing ways their families were celebrating Olive’s life. Women I advised with showed up at the run/walk to benefit our local children’s hospital; ready to walk with our team in memory of Olive. I still, three years later, have Chi Omegas that will reach out to me and encourage me and let me know they are praying for our family; sisterhood truly never stops!

Each year #olivesbranches has gotten bigger and more meaningful to us. It’s been a great way to help us through a difficult day, but more importantly it’s a way for others to share love and kindness with a world that so desperately needs it.

The most rewarding part of all of this has been giving the community and, more specifically, other loss parents an opportunity to have an open and honest discussion about grief and loss – and what that looks like to each of us. I have been able to share my story from behind a computer but I feel most connected when I’m able to stand in front of a group of people and give a face to loss. Not one of us is exempt from death or loss and there is a stigma that we should deal with our feelings in private, but I disagree. While social media can be an outlet for oversharing, it can also open us up to discussions with people we wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to reach. Discussing one’s vulnerability with the public isn’t for everyone but it has been a great tool for me; helping others to know they are not alone – that they don’t have to grieve in silence or in shame – has been very powerful.

My faith has played a huge role in my journey. I believe the words of Jesus when he told us to love God and to love others (Mark 12:30-31). In Matthew chapter 14, beginning at verse 13, we see Jesus feeding the five thousand. “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.”

It’s easy to overlook this really important piece of the story. The “what had happened” in verse 13 that Matthew is referring to is the killing of John the Baptist. Jesus was mourning the loss of his cousin; his friend, the man who baptized him and prepared the way for him. Jesus tried to retreat, but the people continued to follow him and he does a remarkable thing: he serves them.

You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to find the importance in serving. We live in a world that so desperately needs to see our truth as human beings: we hurt, we help, we persevere. Sometimes we need the lifting and other times we do the lifting; it’s the most profound way to live in unity with each other.

Nicole Genthe Smith is an initiate of the Alpha Lambda Chapter of Chi Omega at Valparaiso University in Indiana. As an alumna she serves the Beta Lambda chapter as Personnel Advisor. Nicole also serves Chi Omega as a member of the Advisor Recruitment Team and the Fair Play for Chapters team. Prior to joining those teams, she served on the National Advisory Training Team for six years.

Nicole is married and resides with her family in a suburb of Milwaukee, WI. Since her daughter’s passing, she and her husband have welcomed a son, Abner, in 2015. In their free time they enjoy spending time at their lake home in northern WI. Nicole also enjoys cooking, reading, writing and public speaking.

You can follow Nicole on Instagram @oliveandherbranches, where she is most active, or read her blog,