62 - Authentic Connections, Lifelong Friends

Our collegiate years surround us with Sisters. Whether it’s sitting together in English class, breakfast with roommates every morning to start our day with laughter, or chapter meetings, our college years are structured for Sisterhood and time together. After graduation, some may think those memories and relationships would fade. But, our alumnae show us time and time again that’s far from the truth.

Reunions are featured in each issue of The Eleusis, as fostering lifelong friendship and Sisterhood is a purpose of Chi Omega that binds us all together. Some of our favorite reunions center around celebrating milestones, traveling, or honoring a Sister.

Tea Time in London

Tau Alpha Sisters were featured in 2007 for their reunion across the pond. Eight Tau Alphas from Ohio University enjoyed time together conquering the cities they visited with humor, goodwill, and determination. Sister Sandie Van Drew Johnson composed the itinerary and planned events that promised new adventures and learning opportunities for everyone the group.

Tea at the London Ritz. From the left, Ann Sweeney Kopelson, Judy Slack Harkness, Judie Davies Day, Sue Jones Pease, Sandie Van Drew Johnson, Signe Stevenson Sheldon, Judi Niehaus Fenson, and Gail Davies Kiewit. All Tau Alphas from Ohio U, during tea time they toasted Mrs. Terrill, their housemother, who taught them to be ladies.

London, Cambridge, and Norwich were chosen as the group’s three “host” cities, with excursions scheduled in and around each.

A St. Louis Sisterhood Spanning Over 50 Years

In 2006 our St. Louis Sisters were featured for their more than 50 years, enjoying each other’s company twice a month, meeting originally for bridge and dessert but now for lunch and conversation.

Seated left, Ann Lee Hancock Konneker, Zeta Alpha/Ohio State U and Jan Brinkman Boehm, Pi Alpha/U of Cincinnati, seated right. Each brought her national Chi Omega award to share with her Sisters: Ann Lee holds her Roselyn T. Dabbs Philanthropist Award, given by the Chi Omega Foundation; Jan has the Fraternity’s Lifetime Service Award. Both awards were presented in 2004. Also attending the luncheon were, standing from the left, Peggy Jo Wilson Rausendorf, Rho Alpha/U of Missouri–Columbia; Bonnie Whately Braddock, Xi Delta/U of Toledo; Carolyn Crego Brown, Eta/U of Michigan; and Mary Jane Morgan Salivar, Xi/Northwestern U. Members of this group not pictured are Jackie Morrison Pennington, Eta Beta/Iowa State U, and Anne Brown Short, Nu/U of Wisconsin

Psi Beta Sisters Reuniting Since Graduation

Since graduating in 2009, Sisters of Psi Beta have made their annual reunion something they look forward to every year. From Dallas to Chicago to Miami, the group has made its mark on numerous cities across the country. Her pledge Sisters say Maureen Mohr Henderson has taken her organization skills she learned as G.T.B. and now uses them to be their expert trip planner.

Psi Beta Sisters of the graduating class of 2009 on their annual reunion trip

Round-Robin Letters for 50 Years

In a 2009 issue of The Eleusis, six Theta Delta initiates from the class of 1958 were featured for reuniting during Homecoming weekend in 2008 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Carroll University. They were Barbara Gillingham Benedetto, Dotty White Rector, Ann Krause Johnson, Marcia Rowley Lynch, Rosemarie Roos Fischer, and Gloria Cook Oak. These women, along with three who couldn’t attend—Sandy Huebner Pearlman, Jean Gloppen, and Priscilla Damp Kepfield—are a family of Sisters who have been writing letters to each other for 50 years.

After college graduation, they started to move away from one another. “But we couldn’t let it go,” Rosie said. “We had such a fondness for each other, we always wanted to know what was going on.”

Their letter-writing process is based on a round-robin rotation: One woman writes a letter and sends it, with pictures, to one of the eight others on a static, sequential list. Then the next woman takes her turn, adding her own letter and photos and mailing everything to the next woman on the list. Each Sister usually receives letters twice a year. They have written about their weddings, babies, teenagers, careers, grandchildren, caring for their parents, loss of children and husbands, and retirement. “Now we use e-mail and free minutes to call on weekends, but that doesn’t take the place of a letter,” Gloria said.

Creative Alumnae ZIP Code Party Brings Mercer Island Sisters Together

In 2011 The Eleusis featured more than 20 Chi Omega alumnae living on Mercer Island, Washington, who were informally hosted at the home of Maryellen Johnson, Alpha/U of Washington. It was the second of a series of ZIP code parties in the Puget Sound region.

Pictured from the left, in front, are Maryellen Johnson, Julie King Hately, Sue Kurzrock Robboy (Mu Kappa/Duke U), Nancy Gemmell Hafermann, Jan Schmitt Noone, Hilary Norman Benson (Mu/UC Berkeley). In back are Lezanne Epting Stevenson, Jacqueline Leffman Wells, Patti Myers Reutimann, Gale Shearer Otter (Beta Beta/ Washington State U), Mary Mazure Smersh, Laurie Freeman Hamilton (Zeta Alpha/Ohio State U), Marlena Wellman Lemon, Katie Cairns Boissoneault, Lori Wells Dewey, Karen Leimback. Unless otherwise noted, Sisters are initiates of Alpha/U of Washington.

Everyone had a great time getting acquainted. Many attended who were acquaintances or good friends but did not realize they also share Chi Omega. And Sisters living in the same block finally formally met. Some wore their badge for the occasion.

Toledo Sisters Reunited in Asia

Pictured at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Sha Tin, Hong Kong, are Jessica Deardurff Loebig, Rachel Deardurff Joseph, and Cate Johnson.

Three Xi Delta Sisters from the University of Toledo met in Hong Kong in 2012 for a visit and vacation during Chinese New Year. Although the weather was a bit chilly, the ladies enjoyed exploring the city, eating dim sum, and spending time together before taking a side trip to Phuket, Thailand, where they dined on curries and relaxed in the warm sunshine on the beautiful beaches.

A Cruise around Mexico

Photographed on their way to dinner are, from top left: Karen Calder Corvan, Linda DeWitt Fillhardt, Tricia Gallaway Amstrup, Carolyn Vece Soto, Dee Dee Ecke Tomihiro, Jeanette Ruff Tranberg, Judi Hallmark Bolante, Denise Sortino Lehman, Patra Nesseth Steffes, and Mary Ann Carlton. Not pictured is Joan (Sue) Barclay

A Mexican weekend cruise was the perfect venue for the Sisters of Iota Delta/San Jose State U as they celebrated a 40-year reunion on the high seas in 2010. At an onboard private party, great memories were recollected with the aid of old recruitment photos and Chi O memorabilia. New memories were created while sightseeing, shopping, and cooking Mexican food.

Basketball Bonds Xi Zeta Sisters

In 2012, a group of Xi Zeta/U of Tennessee–Martin alumnae initiated between 1960 and 1970 travelled to Indianapolis to catch a Women’s National Basketball Association game between the Indiana Fever, coached by their Xi Zeta Sister Lin Dunn, and the Atlanta Dream. Although the Fever were not victorious, the Sisters hooted for them loudly while dining on a finely catered meal hosted by Lin in her private arena box.

Pictured in Coach Dunn’s home, from the left, standing are Cindy Hall Cowell, Nancy Neese Culver, Kay Elgin Rector, Kathy Prince Bucy, Jenny Ladd Cashdollar, Kathy Prater Portis, hostess and coach Lin Dunn, Linda Jessup Jennings, Christy Passmore, Paula Herron Heckman; seated are Cynthia Black Hook, Teresa Ladd Willis, Carol Medling Weems. Also attending, but not pictured, were Polly Beth Crawford Glover and Carrol Schrader Pitts

The previous evening, over dinner in Lin’s home in the shadow of what is now called Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Sisters joined with fans across the country, wearing orange in support of the health challenges of Xi Zeta Sister, Pat Head Summit. Though some of the women had not enjoyed each other’s company in a long while and others had never met, the event was, nevertheless, a perfect symphony of friendship.

Nu Gamma Gathers to Honor Sister

Nu Gamma/Penn State initiates of the ’70s gathered one last time with Sister Diane Nichols Natale, who was in the final stages of her cancer journey. The reunion, headquartered at the campus’s famed Nittany Lion Inn fulfilled her wish to see her Sisters again.

More than 30 Nu Gamma Sisters attended the reunion

The reunion was a huge triumph, and shortly thereafter Diane joined Omega Chapter. Because she loved nature and enjoyed walking the trails, her Sisters raised funds to purchase a covered bench and a picnic table with roof in her name along the Yough River Trail near West Newton, in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Mother-Daugther Homecoming

In the 1950s, six young women from Fulton, Kentucky, enrolled at the University of Kentucky and pledged Lambda Alpha Chapter of Chi Omega. Their six daughters followed in their mother’s footsteps.

From the left, in front, are Leslie Fossett Worthington, Cindy McDade Schiavone, and Lisa Homra Sears; in the middle, Ann McDade Hunt, Anne Latta Peterson, Nancy Wilson Fossett, and Linda Hale McDade; back row, Conley Hunt Barclay (Kappa Beta), Marianne Peterson Nitzken, and Dee Homra Issac

In September 2018, four of these mothers and their daughters plus two close Chi Omega friends returned to Fulton for a reunion full of laughter and reminiscing.

Sisters on Tour

The “Chi O ’70s Girls” of Tau Alpha/ Ohio have kept their bond of Sisterhood alive for almost 40 years with frequent reunions. This year the class of 1979 met in Nashville, but one pledge Sister, Joan Witmer Johnson, couldn’t make it. She was undergoing treatment for leukemia. To show support, her Sisters took Joan along with them by posting a life-size headshot of Joan’s smiling face on a stick that traveled to all the sites.

“We took pictures of ‘our Joan’ with the group at various locations and sent photos and funny captions to her daily,” said Kathy Kittinger Malesick. “Of course,” she continued, “the giant face on a stick attracted people’s attention. We explained that we were in support of our Chi Omega Sister who was unable to be with us.”

Pictured at the Opry are, from the left, Teresa Boyle Smith, Sue Coffin Fletcher, Cindy Lukens, Sallie Dillon Bonnette (holding sign), Kathy Kittinger Malesick, Joyce Wickline Vanderwerff, and Lynne Martin Ritschdorff. Elise Yantz Falvey is in the back.