Last weekend I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Founders Day celebration for Sigma Delta chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Huntingdon College, my alma mater.
The chapter turns forty years old on January 31. Although I was a charter member, through some scientific miracle, I’ve only aged twenty years during this period of time. I can’t explain it. I only went in the science building once while I was at Huntingdon, and that was to give someone a note. I guess it’s a time warp thing or something.
At the celebration, the college president spoke first, then the vice president and I wrapped it up. About twenty-five alumnae returned so, with the 50 some odd chapter members, there were about seventy-five beautiful women sitting in front of me as I spoke. Smiling faces. Sisters, no matter the age. I loved chatting with them.
I told them how we not only started AOII at Huntingdon, but also the Greek system and how it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright difficult. Nineteen girls were in the original colony and by the end of the term we had only seven of the original nineteen. We’d picked up three more strong members through rush giving us a total of ten. One graduated so we returned in the fall to recruit new members with only nine members.
We pledged seventeen new members and on January 31, 1976, twenty-six sisters were initiated and one was pledged to the chapter. AOIIs from Auburn, Alabama, South Alabama, Birmingham Southern and Lambuth College came for the installation of our chapter and our initiations. After a year, it was a big deal!
Of our original twenty-seven we had four Miss Huntingdon’s, two Homecoming Chairs, I’m not sure how many homecoming queens and court members–multiple ones I know, and four were president of the chapter before graduating.
I was the first president. The second president, Marsha Brown Taylor, drove up from south Alabama to attend. Two others of the original seven had planned to be there, but one was puking sick and the other had an emergency arise where she couldn’t come. Both would’ve had to drive hours to get there. Had they made it, more than half of our original seven would have been present forty years later. Both were heartbroken they couldn’t attend and were asking for pictures before I even got home.
The other three of the original seven: I don’t know where one is, one is in California and the other is in New Zealand. They get a pass. Of the original ten who finished the term I’ve lost a second one, another was moving to Texas that weekend, and the third had a work obligation in Florida.
The chapter now stands at campus total of fifty. They held a lovely reception afterwards then I went to their house and did a workshop with them. It was great being in a relaxed atmosphere and talking to some of them one-on-one. They are truly outstanding young women.
I’ve always valued them, but AOII has had some recent tragedies that makes me realize I must tell them more often. We had a chapter member from Columbia University die in an automobile accident while on a mission trip in Honduras a couple of weeks ago. The next week one of our members from Ole Miss died in a hit and run accident in her home town in West Virginia. I found out yesterday the brave principal who was killed when she pushed students out of the way of an oncoming bus in Indianapolis was an AOII and another sister was killed in a skiing accident. I know these kinds of things happen all of the time, but when it’s someone you know (or feel you know because she’s an AOII) it strikes close to home.
But the young ladies at Huntingdon were vibrant and very much alive. They’ve accomplished much in the forty years since we were a fledgling colony. I couldn’t be prouder of them!
FROM AN EARLIER VISIT:
Me with Anna and Farrah, two of the chapter’s former officers. Farrah was past chapter president. I’m not sure which office Anna held but it was a major one
NEW AOII HOUSE
Some of the charter members at Homecoming (not this visit)
Members during a former visit (ribbon cutting for the house)
THIS VISIT–FOUNDERS’ DAY 1976 — 40 YEAR CELEBRATION:
Marsha Brown Taylor (2nd Pres. of chapter) Anthony Leigh Sr. VP of College, & me (1st president of chapter) before Founders’ Day began.
The stage set up for Founders’ Day
Hubby went to the balcony for a group shot.
Outgoing Chapter President Farrah Megan with a Composite of the Colony made from old yearbook pictures. It will hang in the chapter house across from the current composite. This took a lot of work and was a true labor of love.
Me with college Sr. VP Anthony Leigh and College President Dr. Cameron West
Until next time…