“When Teter walked in, she wasn’t one to shake the room up… She would first take in everything in the room, but she was a magnet,” Joellyn Sullivan, former Governing Council member and long-time volunteer.
Her Innate Connection to her Collegians
After Joellyn Sullivan graduated and went on to physical therapy school, she received a card from long-time Kappa Beta advisor Margaret “Teter” Hyde, wishing her good luck in school and inviting her to join the advisory board with her. Joellyn credits that invitation as the beginning of her alumna career as a Chi Omega.
She recounted Teter’s impact on the chapter as, “She was always the driving force and made sure the advisory board was full. She was incredibly relatable and relevant with what was going on and made sure the advisory board had the depth that could handle the current state of the campus.”
“She was also a lot of fun,” says Joellyn, “We always had a recruitment workshop when we came back to school and they’d be at a park and Teter would be there. Teter would sit on the floor and play spoons and hoot and holler with the chapter. She was great at connecting with them.”
Those that worked with her knew Teter as young at heart, having an unwavering love for Chi Omega, and fostering true and meaningful friendships in the Fraternity.
“We all called her Teter, even the collegians,” said Joellyn, “We’re all sisters, no ‘ma’ams’ were used. Teter knew all of the members and was a tremendous mentor to them.”
At one point during the time that Teter was advising, the chapter was having trouble getting along, so she brought in a professional counselor to visit the chapter and offer resources. The ripple effect of her, along with other Chi Omega leaders, prioritizing professional support and resources now shows up in our focus on things like hazing prevention, mental health, and sexual assault. Her work with Kappa Beta also helped her to play a major role in moving Firesides to be more relevant programming for collegians and advisors. She understood the importance of a national organization supporting advisors and collegians, especially in regards to advisor training.
Teter’s National Pressence
Every other year Teter would get a new Cadillac and pile the entire Kappa Beta delegation in for a road trip to the Greenbrier where Convention would take place. With sodas in hand, Diane Wellford would do the driving. Once at the Greenbrier, multicourse meals, even at breakfast, were served. Teter was notorious for having her go-to food choices at Convention; steak for dinner and chocolate dessert.
Joellyn recounted one time in particular that she witnessed how crucial Teter was in connecting Kappa Beta to the National organization. She was at the Greenbrier as a collegian and said, “I can remember sitting at dinner with Teter, who was the national registrar for Chi Omega, Diane Wellford, Winnie Bowker, Punky Penberthy, Muff Gordon, and Christelle Ferguson. All of these women were major leaders in the Fraternity, as well as close friends to Teter. At that moment it was clear that Teter was a strong link to Chi Omega nationally, understanding that building friendships with women across chapters was crucial in bettering our individual chapters, as well our Fraternity nationally. Teter’s ties to the Fraternity instilled a national pride for collegians of Kappa Beta. They always knew they were a part of something bigger than just their chapter.
Teter’s Work with the Chi Omega Foundation
Before the Chi Omega Foundation, there were no mechanisms or habits for giving to Chi Omega. Funding was based solely off collegiate dues, so the idea of the Foundation was bold.
Teter’s philanthropic spirit was a driving force in the establishment of the Chi Omega Foundation. She understood that not every chapter had a strong alumnae base to support them like the advisors at Kappa Beta had built. There was a need for chapters in all pockets of the country to have access to resources, regardless of the alumnae support that may or may not exist in their area. By establishing the Foundation, resources were able to be allocated to chapters that needed training, support, or supplies.
Teter had the forward vision to know the Fraternity needed to actively plan for the future. Coming off the 70s and 80s there was a major decline in membership in Greek organizations. The establishment of the Foundation was crucial in our efforts to offer continuous support while remaining relevant in a swiftly changing nation and ensuring growth for years to come.
In 1982 the Chi Omega Foundation was established, and it was through this Foundation that Chi Omega was able to combine the various memorial scholarships the Fraternity had been granting over the previous decade. Teter served as the first President of the Chi Omega Foundation, then on the board of trustees, offering her advice, leadership, and empathy.
Leaving Her Mark
In 1984, Teter received the President’s Award and in 1990 the Distinguished Service Award from the national Fraternity, highlighting the impact she made that we still see the benefits of today.
Her involvement with Kappa Beta ran so deep that the Kappa Beta lodge is dedicated to her and all that she gave to the chapter. Her work with the Kappa Beta lodge was that to aspire to. Teter took it upon herself to decorate the house, placing some decor that is still there today like the crest over the mantle and the owls on the fireplace. At a time where house corporations were not as structured as they are today, she took the lead on creating a home away from home at the Kappa Beta lodge for her collegians.
The main gallery of the Executive Headquarters is also named in honor of Teter. Her cornerstone gift of $500,000 for the Headquarters Campaign was a part of her estate plan, and although her Parkinsons disease kept her from ever getting to see the inside of the building, her nurse would drive her by on occasion for her to see the progress being made.
It was then that Chi Omega’s planned giving society became named for Teter and her generosity. Today many Sisters who have had a lifelong relationship with Chi Omega choose to include the Fraternity in their estate plans through the Margaret Hyde Heritage Society. Their gifts serve as both a testament to the Fraternity’s past and a cornerstone for which our future will be built upon.
Family in Philanthropy
Teter has been described as a woman focused on service and philanthropy and was always about making a difference.
She inherited her business sense and philanthropic heart from her family. Her father, Joseph R. Hyde was the founder of grocery wholesaler Malone & Hyde Inc. of Memphis. The success of Teter’s father allowed Mr. Hyde to pursue his passion for philanthropy. He and his wife, Ruth Sherman Hyde, shared the belief that “to whom much is given, much is required.” As they grew roots in Memphis, the Hydes contributed to numerous charities, with special attention paid to education and faith-based initiatives.
In September 1961 Mr. Hyde founded the J.R. Hyde Sr. Family Foundation. His drive to build a better Memphis came to fruition through this personal, family-based philanthropy. Mr. Hyde appointed his three children, including Teter, and his grandson to the board of directors. After his death in 1972, his family continued to lead the Foundation as it shaped the city of Memphis by supporting growth and reform initiatives.
Teter sat for the foundation in the New York stock exchange which is particularly notable because this was rare for a woman in the 1960s. In 1972, nine Memphis-based companies on the New York and American stock exchanges had a total of 100 board members. Teter was the only woman.
She worked tirelessly for children in the Memphis area, serving several years on the foundation board then as president of the board for what was known at the time as The Crippled Children’s Hospital. Today the hospital is closed and now functions as the Children’s Foundation of Memphis. Through her service on those boards, she learned of the need for rehabilitation engineering in the areas of seating and mobility for children living with illness or disability. Teter became instrumental in founding the Rehabilitation Engineering Center at the University of Tennessee in 1974 and was chairman of the advisory board.
Her other interests included the Thomas W. Briggs Foundation, The National Society of Colonial Dames, and support of missionaries in Peru. She served on the board of the Vitreoretinal Research Foundation and the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing. She was also a highly influential alumna of Rhodes College and ended up as one of the first women to serve on the board of trustees.
Her investment in St. Mary’s Episcopal School still holds strong today. A former Trustee of the school, Teter led the 1980s capital fundraising drive that enabled the new elementary building, which school leaders at the time were honored to name The Margaret R. Hyde Activity Center. The school received its first sizable planned gift through Teter’s estate after she joined Omega chapter in 1995. The Margaret R. Hyde Society exists today to honor those who are planning gifts to the school in their estate plans.
Teter was skilled in engaging others in philanthropy as well. She was gifted in seeing a need, identifying it, articulating it, and then bringing others around it to share what was going on and how people could help. “She was brilliant at it,” says Joellyn.
Teter’s philanthropic legacy still beats in the heart of Chi Omega. We will never know how much good she truly did, as she never went out of her way to be acknowledged for it. She would often do acts of service and never tell anyone. A student’s tuition would get paid, dues would be covered for a member going through a family crisis, a scholarship would be offered. Teter would do this without being asked or acknowledged for it. She was often described as, “simply taking care of those who need it.”
Her small frame and observant tendencies made her appear unassuming at first, but for those who knew and loved her Joellyn Sullivan’s words ring true, “She was a mighty woman.”