Every spring, Chi Omega asks Sisters all over the country to surprise our more “senior Sisters” who are celebrating 75 years of Chi Omega membership with a special recognition certificate and white carnation flowers.
Here, we will be sharing stories from across the country about these special visits. If you are interested in participating in one of these visits, make sure Chi Omega has your most up-to-date email address so you can be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities next spring!
Nona McInnis, Phi Gamma | LSU
This spring, I (Cynthia Perron Lipari, Phi Gamma | LSU) met with Nona Ready McInnis (also a Phi Gamma initiate) and her daughter, Cathy McInnis Healey. We met at Nona’s home in Baton Rouge.
Meeting Mrs. Nona and spending time with her was not only interesting, it was really fun! I loved that we are both Phi Gammas and I feel that gave us a special bond. She was so gracious. I was fortunate to live in the Chi O house for 3 semesters while I was a student at LSU, so I am particularly appreciative of her being on the committee that helped to get it built. (And a shout out to everyone else who served on that committee, as well!)
Nona pledged at LSU in 1943. In fact, Joanne Woodward was one of her Chi O Sisters.
She pledged as a sophomore with a group of friends and they remained friends for life. One of her dear friends and pledge sisters, Lillee Coleman Mayer actually grew up right next door to her, and then later when they were both raising families in Baton Rouge, they once again lived right next door.
Nona majored in Physical Education and while an active Chi O, she served as treasurer, secretary, and rush chairman. She was also a member of the LSU swim team, setting the record for the breaststroke at that time.
After graduation, Nona married her childhood sweetheart, Adrian Kell McInnis Jr. who was finishing up medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans. She joined him in the Crescent City and began working as the P.E. Supervisor at the Louise McGhee girl’s school. They later moved to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, then back to New Orleans, and finally settled back in their hometown of Baton Rouge where they raised four children.
Nona remained active in Chi Omega after graduation and stayed in contact with her Sisters. One very important thing I’d like to mention is that she served on the committee that helped to make the LSU Chi O house a reality
I asked if she had any photos from her Chi O days and she had her daughter pull out some old LSU yearbooks. We had fun looking at the pages dedicated to the LSU Chi O chapter and the many hand written notes from the girls scribbled along the edges of the page. Most were sweet comments about being “Chi O Sisters” and the special bond they shared. Interesting to note is that some years back, a house fire destroyed much of the downstairs of Nona’s home and she lost many things such as her LSU yearbooks. After one of her Chi O friends passed away, that family decided to give Nona their mom’s yearbooks — one of which we were looking at and she is holding in her lap in one of the photos.
One endearing thing I noticed during our visit was the presence of owls! I spotted an owl mug on the kitchen counter, then an owl clock on the wall, then finally a few owls on the windowsills and bookshelves.
Fun family fact: Nona has two granddaughters who are Chi Omega alumnae: Clinton Healey (Epsilon Beta | UNC – Chapel Hill) and Carden Healey Cole (Omicron Lambda | Birmingham-Southern).
Jane Scruggs, Epsilon Gamma | Tulsa
We – Diane Lee (Iota | Texas) and Soriya Estes (Tau Beta |Oklahoma State) – had the honor and privilege of presenting Jane Scruggs with her 75-year Chi Omega certificate. We were joined by her daughter, Jan Moynahan (Iota | Texas), her granddaughter, (Kate Hall, Zeta Lambda | Wake Forest) and Kate’s pledge sister, Erin Malone (Zeta Lambda | Wake Forest).
Jane pledged Chi Omega at the University of Tulsa in 1942 where she was the Band Queen. She transferred to the University of Texas when her family moved to Texas and then served at G.H. for the University of Texas Chapter – and notes she may be the only transfer to have ever been president of Iota Chapter. Jane noted that it was very common to wear your sorority pin every day. She met the Chi Omega’s during summer rush on “coke dates” and knew that Chi Omega was a good sorority and the girls were nice.
One memory of college life during World War II was that the semesters were condensed into two-month time periods (July – August and September – October) so that the young men would be ready to leave for service on November 1. Students were able to graduate early with this adjusted schedule.
Jane lived in the Chi Omega house that was on Wichita Street which housed twenty-five girls. They were a close group of friends. Parties with the various fraternities were a part of college life.
After obtaining her business degree, Jane married Jim Scruggs from Roscoe, Texas who had just completed medical school. Jim was in the Navy and was initially stationed at a VA hospital in Amarillo. After working in St. Louis and Houston, the Scruggs were ready to find a permanent home. Jim’s specialty was ophthalmology and after some research, Jane suggested they live in Waco where there were not many doctors practicing ophthalmology. She would have enjoyed living in Tulsa where she grew up, and Jim might have agreed to that if Tulsa had been in Texas!
Jane and Jim built a house in Waco, raised their four daughters there and lived in that same house for 57 years. Jane moved to Austin in 2017 upon Jim’s passing. Jane has five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Jane has a group of Chi Omega friends called the “ranch bunch.” These 15 women met every other year at a friend’s ranch outside of Houston. One year, about 12 of the ranch bunch traveled to Memphis to see the Chi Omega Executive Headquarters. Jane’s granddaughter, Kate, recalled that the ranch bunch generously wrote letters of support for Kate when she went through recruitment at Wake Forest.
Jane volunteered as the Waco liaison for the Baylor Chi Omega chapter and enjoyed working with the collegians.
Jane’s daughter, Jan, in an email said “Mom is a dynamic lady with a vibrant personality! Chi Omega has always been an important part of her life, and it was so meaningful for her years to be recognized.” At 93, Jane’s suggestion is to “embrace your age.”
Leah Burrows, Mu | UC – Berkeley
Julia Kronholz (Gamma | FSU) and Patrice Surdi (Alpha | Washington) visited Leah Burrows Felt to celebrate her 75-year recognition at her home in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Leah went to school at University of California, Berkeley and majored in English. Leah shared that college was a very special time for her and that moving from Salt Lake City, Utah to the Bay Area in California was a life-changing experience. She noted it was the first time in her life that she had met people from different states, countries, religious backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities and that she absolutely loved learning more about different kinds of people.
She chose to attend Cal because the love of her life was serving in the Navy in the Pacific, and she believed he might be sent to the Bay Area when his duties were done. As it turns out, she was correct. Her to-be husband was injured and was sent to California for medical attention. Leah stated that she was able to take the bus from campus to the hospital to visit him each day, studying her course materials on the way there and on the way back.
Leah enjoyed living in the Chi Omega house, and talked about life as a Chi Omega, which included formal dinners and chapter meetings once per week.
After graduation, Leah used her English degree to teach soldiers who had returned from war and pursued higher education as part of the G.I. Bill. Leah and her husband, Whit, raised five wonderful children in a beautiful home in Salt Lake City, Utah, overlooking Mt. Olympus. Leah stated that she and her husband were “the happiest couple.” Her children live close to her, and she feels very blessed.
Leah also mentioned that through the years, she and her fellow Chi Omega Sisters have gathered each month to spend time together and expressed gratitude for the lifelong friendships that Chi Omega has brought her.
Kathryn Cheek, Nu Beta | Alabama
Hannah Tiblier (Sigma Epsilon | Vanderbilt), Becky Lowe (Rho Epsilon | TCU), Phylis Harrell (Chi Theta | Western Kentucky), and I (Kit Landry | Rho | Newcomb College/Tulane) honored Mrs. Kathryn Cheek (Nu Beta | Alabama) of Nashville for her 75th Member Recognition.
Mrs. Cheek graciously received us in her beautiful home with a lovely tea table set up with iced tea, water, and a tiered epergne of cookies.
She showed us two of her yearbooks featuring Chi Omega photos from the University of Alabama. She also shared with us her ‘beauty book’. She was elected to the Homecoming Court two years in a row. And indeed Kathryn is still beautiful in every way.
She remains active. She paints and socializes and appears to enjoy life to the fullest. We enjoyed Kathryn sharing memories with us about her college days, her husband, her travels, and her love of snow skiing.
We showered her with two dozen red roses, red and yellow balloons, and two dozen red and white mini cupcakes. Becky, an accomplished singer with a seriously beautiful wide-ranging voice, serenaded Kathryn with a variety of songs. Becky brought smiles to our faces and hearts.
It was an absolute delight and pleasure to meet Kathryn. I am — and I assume all of us are — better for having met her.
Louis Isgrig, Psi | Arkansas & Maurine Hale, Nu Beta | Alabama
Earlier this spring, Louis Isgrig (Psi | Arkansas) and Maurine Hale (Nu Beta | Alabama) were presented with 75-year certificates and white carnations. Gathered together at Presbyterian Village, a retirement community in Arkansas, the two ladies were joined in celebration with Donna Hall (Gamma Zeta | Arkansas – Little Rock) and Louise Gutierrez (Epsilon Beta | UNC – Chapel Hill, and daughter of Maurine Hale).
The four ladies spent time reminiscing over Louis and Maurine’s memories of college and the world around them while in school. Both women recall the events of Pearl Harbor and the affects which led to World War II. Specifically, Louis remembers withdrawing from the University of Arkansas to be with her family when her brother left to fight overseas.
While is school, Maurine was an editor for the school newspaper. A memory she shared with her Chi Omega visitors was how difficult it was at times to get the men to do what she needed them to do. Louis also recalled a fond college memory of when her and her fellow pledges decided to go to a New Year’s Eve party. When the pledges returned, they attempted to sneak back in the house using the fire escape but were greeted by the executive members upon return. Their punishment was “house-campus” for a month.
The 75-year member visit was a joyous occasion for all who were present. After saying her goodbyes to Louis and Maurine, Donna Hall mentioned, “it is easy to forget how much joy you can bring to these elderly ladies with these small acts of thoughtfulness and kindness.”
Mary Stratico, Lambda Beta | Rhode Island
Mary Stratico (Lambda Beta | Rhode Island) was presented with her 75-year-certificate by Elyssa DeAlmeida (also a Lambda Beta | Rhode Island initiate) this spring. They met at Mary’s home in Cape Cod.
During their visit, Mary talked about her close friendship in Chi Omega with two other Sisters. The three of them were known throughout the URI campus as “The Three Marys.” They were roommates in the Chi Omega chapter house. At the time, the chapter had between 18-20 members and Mary was floored to learn that new member classes can now be over 50 girls at her alma mater. She talked about memories of “thumbing” to get a ride to the nearby Narragansett beach with her friends and the excitement of recruiting new members. She also mentioned a few exciting moments when Chi Omega was asked to formals at Brown, PC, or Harvard. Despite the special occasions, they were still expected back in the chapter house by the 10 pm curfew! At one point in the visit she said to me, “If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I always felt welcome and at home.”
Mary shared stories about attending college during WWII. First of all, she was encouraged to attend college prior to graduating high school because attendance in colleges were low due to the war effort. While she was there, her meat rations were mailed in from her mother in NY in order for the dining halls to be stocked for her meals. One of the buildings next to the Chi Omega house was filled with GIs and she said how sad it was that nearly the entire group passed away in the war. She cited an example of how she helped the war effort by picking potatoes in the URI agricultural field so that they could be send to soldiers. She was allowed to take one home one day and she mailed it to her mother in NY who claimed it was the best potato she had ever eaten! Mary and her friends also spent time teaching the soldiers to swim in a nearby lake.
After graduation (which by the way – her degree was earned in just a short 33 months), she moved in with her parents in Yonkers. She became a middle school home economics teacher, which ended up being her profession until she retired. She met her husband in Yonkers one day when he threw a snowball at her to get her attention. Later, when she was running errands for her parents, the clerk at the store said there was someone who wanted to meet her. Mary replied that it “better not be that man who threw the snowball.” But, alas, it was and the rest is history. Mary and her husband Jim ended up moving to Massachusetts which is where she still resides. She has four children and three grandchildren.
Elyssa described the visit with Mary as follows:
“This was an incredible visit for me. I am also an alumna of Lambda Beta at URI so it was extra exciting for me to hear her stories and to be able to envision what that time was like for her. I spent hours with her just listening to her stories and enjoying her company. She mentioned her fabulous professors and at one point grew serious and asked me to tell her honestly how I was treated as a woman while getting my degree. She seemed very pleased with my response and then grew more playful and outgoing again. When I left, she told me that I was a “true Chi Omega” and that there is no greater compliment she could bestow upon me. I feel truly honored to have met Mary.”
Lenore Johnson, Phi | Southern California
Lenore Johnson (Phi | University of Southern California), 93 years young, celebrated 75 years of membership in Chi Omega.
Lenore recalls, “If it weren’t for Chi Omega, I would have never graduated college!” Sister Jan Eber (Lambda/U of Kansas) presented Lenore with her certificate and vase of carnations. Lenore’s daughter and son-in-law were also present for the meet-up.
Lenore lived in the Chi Omega house on University of Southern California’s campus. Her Sisters were very supportive of her studies and she graduated from the School of Business! After graduation, she married a professor and moved to Seattle. A few years later, her husband was offered a position at the University of Hawai’i and recalls that their first night in Hawai’i they stayed with one of her Chi Omega Sisters who lived near Waikiki Beach.
While in Hawai’i, Lenore joined the University of Hawai’i’s Campus Club, a group of wives who helped welcome new faculty to University of Hawai’i. They held dinners, dances, fundraisers, started a child care facility, and offered scholarships. Lenore was also a founder of the Aina Haina Community Association and served as President for many years of the Friends of Aina Haina Public Library. She and her husband also raised three children.
It was a wonderful visit on the Big Island of Hawai’i! Jan and Lenore enjoyed reminiscing about her time in Chi Omega at USC – such an influential chapter of her life.