84 - The Longest Bloodline

“Everyone knows she’s a stickler, but stories passed down through the family show a whole different side of Jobelle,” says Holly Bryan, Jobelle Holcombe’s great-great-niece. “All the cousins called her ‘auntie!'”

Jobelle never married or had children, so Psi alumna Holly Bryan and her family are this Founder’s closest living descendants. When looking at the family tree, you can see the connection between the Sisters!

Family tree, linking Jobelle to her older sister, Cener, and Cener’s direct descendants

Jobelle: Stickler or a Softer Side?

Jobelle was known as a “stickler” for a lot of reasons, but one, in particular, was the story of Jobelle finally being initiated decades after the Founding in 1945. The story says she was paying such close attention to every detail of the ceremony that she stopped the collegians at one point as they were initiating her to correct them!

Another fond story of Jobelle’s steadfastness comes with her name, both the pronunciation and the spelling. In a recording, Jobelle is heard announcing matter of factly that her last name should be pronounced as: “Hall-combe.”

She was also particular about the spelling of her last name. Jobelle didn’t have the “e” on her last name when she was born. She knew her relatives had the “e” on the name, but it had been lost somewhere along the way. So, Jobelle made the decision to add the “e” back on herself. Holly says Jobelle was once remembered as stating she added it because she wanted to restore the family name to “what it is supposed to be.”

But, Holly says there was always a much softer, gentler side to Jobelle that many Chi Omegas didn’t often get to see.

Flat Founder Jobelle sitting with the quilt she made

Jobelle was creative, painting china, creating Vogue doll clothes, and quilting often. One of her quilts, from what is thought to be from the 1940s or 1950s, is in Holly’s younger daughter’s home today, and Holly also mentions a crocheted bed throw that she was gifted when she was 14. Many of Jobelle’s pieces and creations have been passed down from generation to generation.

Holly says she believes Jobelle most likely picked up a lot of these hobbies after she retired from teaching.

One piece of the family archives that has been passed down through generations is the Holcombe bench. The Holcombe bench was given to the Archives at the Executive Headquarters by Holly and her family. The bench was in Jobelle’s parents’ home, either the foyer or parlor, and is believed to have been used during the earliest meetings of the Chi Omega.

Holcombe bench, now housed at Chi Omega Executive Headquarters

“We wanted to find a good home for it. and wanted everyone to be able to see it,” says Holly.

Jobelle’s Legacy

Holly says she didn’t find out about Jobelle being connected to their family until she was in ninth grade when tasked with giving an introduction speech in her English class. It was then that her mother shared she had been gifted her middle name in honor of her great-great-aunt Jobelle Holcombe, then shared, quite matter of factly, that she was a Founder of Chi Omega.

From left, Jobelle Holcombe, Maude Switzer, and Cener Holcomb, Jobelle’s older sister

In tenth grade, Holly and her family moved to Fayetteville. This move, coupled with her new-found familial relation, sparked her interest and she began thinking more seriously about greek life.

Because it wasn’t pushed on her, Holly recalls thinking about how it could be nice to be a Chi Omega but didn’t feel much pressure beyond that to join the Fraternity.

“Some families really engrain the idea of being a legacy in their family,” she says. But, it was made normal for her and she decided to do the same for her daughters.

When Holly’s daughter Victoria told her she was going through recruitment at Northwestern, Holly says, “It was kind of a surprise! I’d always had owl stuff everywhere, so I think it was probably always back of mind for Tori.”

Then, her younger daughter Jenny went to University of Georgia and she also joined Chi Omega.

As a family, Holly says they discuss the responsibility they feel knowing that someone at Jobelle’s young age did something so incredible, and they keep their focus on pushing the Sisterhood ahead.

Jobelle Holcombe, Founder

“Tori is an advisor at Xi chapter at Northwestern,” she says. ” And I became a member of the Charleston alumnae group. I’m always amazed by the consistency of values and excellence of Chi Omega nationwide.”

From left, Susan, Jenny, Victoria, and Holly who are the closest living descendants to Founder Jobelle Holcombe

Holly’s grandma, Ruth, who was a 1927 Psi initiate, became a doctor in Fayetteville and was proof that strong women were raising strong women in this family. Holly says their examples of women paving their own way have been a sense of great responsibility for the next generations to carry it on.

When asked what it was like to be a part of Chi Omega’s longest bloodline Holly said, “We have a lot of strong women ahead of us, and we feel like we need to continue that.”