31 - The Only Founders to be Initiated

Many of us know the names Jean Vincenheller, Jobelle Holcombe, Christina May Boles, Alice Cary Simonds, and Dr. Charles Richardson as our remarkable Founders. With the help of Dr. Charles Richardson these four women founded Chi Omega Fraternity on April 5, 1895. The dreams of these young women turned into a Sisterhood that now spans from coast to coast. But, would you believe it if we told you that only two of the Founders were ever officially Initiated into Chi Omega?

The five Founders with Jean Vincenheller, top right, and Jobelle Holcombe, center

Because these women created the organization and, with the help of Dr. Charles Richardson, wrote the Ritual itself, the Founders did not perform an Initiation ceremony when they became members. They served as the lettered officers and conducted the Initiation ceremonies themselves as they welcomed new members into their Sisterhood for the first time.

It wasn’t until April 1945 that Jobelle Holcombe became the first Founder to be initiated. She was initiated by Psi Chapter before their annual Eleusinian celebration. During the ceremony Jobelle infamously corrected the English of one of the girls performing the Initiation. Imagine the pressure those collegians were feeling performing our Ritual with Jobelle Holcombe herself going through the ceremony! Years before on April 18, 1896, Chi Omega’s first legacy had been initiated, Cener Holcombe, Jobelle’s older sister. Cener was initiated long before Chi Omega Founder and her own sister, Jobelle, was.

Jobelle Holcombe served as S.T.B. before being officially initiated.

Founder Jobelle Holcombe speaks to Psi in 1957, 12 years after her official Initiation. Her portrait is seen over the mantle.

On March 18, 1951, just six years after Jobelle’s Initiation, Psi Chapter officially initiated Founder Jean Vincenheller Dengler. Jean served as Chi Omega’s first S.H., next as S.T.B, and finally as S.M. She had quite the Chi Omega resume before even taking part in her own Initiation!

Jean Vincenheller Dengler

Jean Vincenheller Dengler sitting by the Greek Theatre in 1951

Chi Omega’s Initiation was crafted carefully by the Founders and with special direction from Dr. Charles Richardson. How lucky Jean and Jobelle are to be the only two Chi Omegas to have ever been on both sides of creating the Initiation Ritual and partaking in it as well! Chi Omega proved to be a lifetime commitment for both Sisters, as it does for all five of our Founders, and each member that has been initiated into Chi Omega since April 5, 1895.