119 - Stitching the Tapestry of Sisterhood

Credited with giving The Eleusis possibly the biggest update in it’s 120 years of publication, the 125 stories of Chi Omega would not be complete without sharing the story of Eleanor Bailey Hyatt who was one of Chi Omega’s greatest storytellers in history. Born August 18, 1930 in Columbus, Ohio, she became known to most as Bunny.

She graduated from North High School in 1948, and attended The Ohio State University where she became a member of Zeta Alpha Chapter and majored in music education with a minor in home economics.

“It seems but a few years ago I stood at the foot of the driveway of the Chi Omega house at Ohio State with a friend as we tried to decide what preference cards we would sign… Something spoke to my friend and I during that preferential party and we agreed that our choice would be Chi Omega,” said Bunny in her 1988 President’s Award speech.

That choice would send her down an exciting path of Chi Omega Sisterhood that a collegiate freshman could have never dreamt. Bunny served Zeta Alpha Chapter as New Member Educator and Recruitment Chair, and after graduating was on Convention staff for 18 years, contributing to nine Conventions as a volunteer. During this time she first worked as a secretary in a law office then, as the secretary of the Upper Arlington Civic Association.

Eleanor “Bunny” Bailey Hyatt, Zeta Alpha/Ohio State

In 1975, she was asked to share her ability to tell the stories of our Sisterhood and become the editor of The Eleusis. It was here that she thrived. Bunny greatly enjoyed traveling and meeting members from across the country and attending national meetings.

After she became Eleusis editor, topics included “…women in the military, pledge education programs, leadership, crime, health, food and drugs. Increasingly, more features were authored by Chi Omegas. Profiles of successful and interesting Sisters appeared more often. Fraternity programs and collegiate and alumnae chapter news became more important,” as stated in the 1999 issue of The Eleusis.

For Bunny, Chi Omega’s impetus to be individually together was something that kept her engaged for decades.

“Chi Omega is a beautiful tapestry. A tapestry stitched by many people, a tapestry there for our pleasure and enlightenment, one which delights us and one which takes work to keep it all in good repair and working toward completion,” she said in her 1988 President’s Award speech.

Bunny is credited with elevating the stories of our individually together Sisters in The Eleusis in new and exciting ways. She introduced a variety of brightly colored covers in 1983 and 1984. The variations of yellow, orange, and green were exciting after decades of the blue jackets that so many of our alumnae may remember.

But the most exciting and radical changes ever made to The Eleusis came in the summer of 1985 when she introduced a glossy magazine style publication, complete with a color photo on the cover, photos in black and white, and color elements throughout.

“The market research that indicated we needed a new format for the Eleusis was the impetus for great change to our magazine. The final product emerged in the summer of 1985: It was a new, full-sized, four-color magazine!” said Bunny Hyatt in the 1999 issue of The Eleusis.

Letter from Editor regarding feedback to updates to The Eleusis

Additionally, for the first time, no paid subscription was necessary. The Eleusis was now sent to all members for whom a current address was available. Alumnae and friends alike were enthusiastic about the new look and circulation policy.

Bunny signed off as editor in 1986 after overseeing three issues in the new format. In her 11 years as editor, her accomplishments included not only a radical redesign and new distribution policy, but she was the first woman to serve as president (1986-1987) of the College Fraternity Editors Association (CFEA), founded in 1923.

In 1988, decades of impact on the Fraternity were honored when she received the President’s Award for outstanding service from former S.H. Kirk Cocke, Nu Beta/Alabama.

“The 1988 St. Louis convention marked the thrill of my lifetime. Kirk Cocke presented me with the President’s Award. With my family in the audience, that moment of honor evoked emotions and sentiments that cannot be measured. That beautiful crystal bowl is my most prized possession. From the bottom of my heart I am grateful,” said Bunny Hyatt in the 1999 issue of The Eleusis.

Dedicated to her community, Bunny was honored with the Upper Arlington Rotary Club’s Service Above Self Award. She was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church where she served on the altar guild and sang in the choir. She was also a member of the North High Women’s Alumnae Association and the Canterbury Unit of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

From left, Bunny Hyatt, her daughter Lynne Kishler, Sigma Alpha/Miami Ohio, and her husband Chuck Hyatt

While at Ohio State, Bunny met her husband, Chuck Hyatt. They were married on October 17, 1953, and had two children, Lynne and Brad. Chuck was a recipient of Chi Omega’s friendship pin, honoring his unwavering and long-standing support of the Fraternity.

In her 1988 President’s Award speech Bunny thank Chuck and shared that he, “asked me to risk the time and effort for the experience of being your editor – he built me an office with large bookcases to hold all the research materials, he advised me when there were troubles, he urged me to make changes and explore the wide blue yonder, as it applied to my work.”

Bunny joined the Omega Chapter on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, leaving behind her legacy of stitching together each individual Sister into the larger and ever-growing tapestry of Chi Omega’s story.