You have to know where you’ve been to know where you are going. Kappa holds a special place in its heart for Fraternity history, but every association of our organization has unique beginnings of its own. Each plays a part in shaping us today and continuing the Kappa tradition beyond college.
HISTORY OF THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION, KAPPA KAPPA GAMMA
The Northern Virginia Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma was chartered on March 9, 1948. The twelve charter members were: Jeannette Beers Barker (Mrs. Clarence), Utah; Barbara Smith Depenbrock (Mrs. John F.), Boston; Helen Bunten Dvorachek (Mrs. William H.), George Washington; Kathryn “Kay” Hertzler Espenshade (Mrs. Gilbert), Penn State; Ethel Tremaine Gray (Mrs. Frederick), Wisconsin; Eleanor Heller Haley (Mrs. James W.), George Washington; Elizabeth “Ann” Aufderheide Highley (Mrs. Albert E.), Butler; Ruth Kleinman Horne (Mrs. John E.), Alabama; Judith Latta, Montana; Alice Phillips Scheleen (Mrs. Joseph), Butler; Mary Fritz Sutton (Mrs. H. H.), Michigan State; and Jane Hill Wellemeyer (Mrs. J. F., Jr), George Washington. The first Association president was Barbara Tranter Curley (Mrs. Frederick), Michigan State.
During the late 1940s, the Washington metropolitan area was undergoing a massive influx of government workers from throughout the nation, and the association reflected that diversity of geographical origins. Perhaps it was the search for friendships in a new place that brought these Kappas together. No question but that it continues to do so with current members representing Kappa chapters from all parts of the U.S. and Canada. Encompassing about 900 square miles, the Association also cuts a wide geographical swath through many D.C. suburbs. Needless to say, as Washington has expanded and traffic has worsened, it has become more difficult to bring members together, but for Northern Virginia Kappas, camaraderie overcomes inconvenience.
In addition, the world has seen a lot of change in the seven decades that the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association has existed. Not surprisingly, Kappa Kappa Gamma and the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association have found it prudent to change with the times. The following are a couple of examples:
In perusing old scrapbooks, one cannot help but notice the prevalence of hats. A “Hat Chat” served as an association meeting program in the 1950s; there was a Mad Hatter’s Lunch; and a hat sale raised money for Kappa philanthropies. One would rarely see a hat at a Kappa meeting today and it would be difficult to gather enough hats for a sale.
Newspaper announcement, NoVa Kappa luncheon 1960
Another noticeable change is in the use of “Mrs.” along with the husband’s name in publications of all kinds. For instance, the list of charter members has always appeared in the Northern Virginia Kappa Directory as, Mrs. Clarence Barker, Mrs. John F. Depenbrock, etc. It took several hours of research to be able to identify the charter members by their own names. It is of some significance that women have obtained their own identities within only the last 50 or so years. But it is a welcome change.
And so, we look back on seven decades with a bit of nostalgia, but also a conviction that our past is but a foundation on which to build a vibrant association of Kappas thrilled to be living in a modern world and planning for a dynamic future.
A WIDE VARIETY OF ASSOCIATION PROGRAMS & EVENTS
Northern Virginia Alumnae Association meeting programs in the 1950s and 60s often featured outstanding speakers: local television director Patti Searight, Ohio State; Alumnae Achievement Award winner Lt. Col. Mary B. Kelly, Drake, director of the Women’s Army Corps; Dorothy Goldberg, wife of the Supreme Court justice; Elaine Lady, member of the Maryland General Assembly, and Kathryn Stone, member of the Virginia House of Delegates. A speaker from Changing Times advised members to buy stocks, a reporter for the Associated Press provided insights into news-gathering, and a tour of the U.S. Department of State was highlighted with a talk about foreign affairs. Association activities also included luncheons, fashion shows, teas, and a Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance with husbands and dates.
With the Washington metropolitan area offering so many opportunities, tours of local sites have been especially popular programs. In addition to the State Department, which Kappas toured on several occasions, the association sponsored tours of Alexandria homes, the Voice of America, the Daughters of American Revolution Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Islamic Center, embassies, the Supreme Court, various Smithsonian museums, and other locations. One March day in 1976, members were treated to a tour of “the oldest house in D.C.,” The Lindens, an 18th-century house originally built in Massachusetts and later transported to D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood. The hostess was the home’s owner Miriam Hubbard Morris, who, with her husband, supervised the move and restoration of the historic home.
In the 1990s, a special highlight was a tour of the newly-opened First Ladies exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, led by exhibition curator Edith Petersilia Mayo, George Washington, a Kappa Alumnae Achievement Award winner. Mayo had also presented a program on Women in Politics to the association in 1986. Members also toured Chinatown, the Phillips Collection, a Decorators’ Showhouse, Dunbarton Oaks, and the National Archives and Navy Memorial.
Founders Day was often, though not always, celebrated with the Washington D.C. – Suburban Maryland Alumnae Association. Fraternity President Fran Alexander, De Pauw, was the speaker at the 1965 Founders Day, a joint celebration held at Washington Golf & Country Club in Arlington. In 1979, the two associations celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the “Heavenly Twins” Gamma Chi and Gamma Psi Chapters at George Washington University and the University of Maryland. The event, held at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, was punctuated by skits and singing many Kappa songs (see picture on right). In 1983 and 1984, Northern Virginia Alumnae Association held its own Founders Day celebrations with re-enactments of Fireside and Red Room.
One long-term association tradition was an annual event for all local Kappa undergraduates and their mothers. It was generally held during the week between Christmas and New Year’s when the young women were home from school. In 1965 and 1966, the Christmas Coffee was held at Quarters 1 at Fort Myer, with its spectacular view over the city. The annual mother-daughter event continued into the 1990s. The photo on the left is from the 1967 Mother-Daughter Tea.
The first Northern Virginia Alumnae Association Holiday Hoot was held in 1983 and it continues to be one of the highlights of the Kappa year. In the early years, Kappas eagerly supplied the buffet table with their homemade specialties; but in 1984, Kappa spouses John Bundock and Jerry Seinwill introduced fresh oysters, which they shucked themselves, to the delight of the guests. That began a long-running tradition of freshly-shucked oysters at Holiday Hoots. Today, the Hoot buffet table offers a combination of restaurant fare and members’ specialties.
Until the early years of the 21st century, photographs of Kappa events feature silver tea services, candelabra and serving trays. Members opened their homes (and yes, polished the silver) for meetings, luncheons, brunches, teas, dinners, and spouse/date parties. Tables were laden with home-cooked “potluck” specialties. When the crowds grew so large that the hostess did not have a sufficient supply of china, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association purchased dinner and dessert plates, cups and saucers, and wine glasses for association events. Today’s meetings are more likely to be held in community centers or restaurants, and when they are scheduled for private homes, paper products are preferred over the china. Still, the association maintains a tradition of gracious hospitality. Pictured on the right are Jo Shaw, Bobbe Redding, and Sara Mae Eckstein in 1986
FUNDRAISING & PHILANTHROPY
Fundraising activities in the association’s early years included bridge parties, fashion shows, holiday card and paper sales, bazaars and rummage sales, with the proceeds designated to rehabilitation services, Kappa’s national philanthropy at that time. In 1948 and 1949, Kappas ran the Alexandria Santa Claus toy shop, which collected more than 2,000 toys each year and served more than 600 children. For their efforts, they were honored by the Mayor of Alexandria.
Kappa volunteers also staffed the Andersen Orthopedic Hospital and the Arlington Tuberculosis & Health Association. Throughout their long association with the Northern Virginia Crippled Children’s Clinic, Kappas supplied hundreds of orthopedic shoes, a wheel chair, a walker and other equipment. They also supported the Sheltered Occupational Workshop in Arlington and the Northern Virginia Association for Retarded Children. Pictured left is Cathy Williams volunteering at The Belle Willard School for Handicapped Children in 1976.
In the 1970s, association members’ love of touring and food led to the creation of a new fundraising tradition, Champagne Brunches held at historical sites. The first one was held at the Woodrow Wilson House in D.C. That was followed by brunches at Oatlands, Gunston Hall, the Christian Heurich Mansion, Woodlawn Plantation, and a return to Oatlands. When the association hosted Lambda Province Meeting in 1975, it showcased the Champagne Brunch format at the Lee-Fendall House in Alexandria, which also featured a Frankie Welch fashion show. There, the association launched its Kappa scarf fundraiser, an owl, key and fleur-de-lis design by Frankie Welch. Kappa scarves in cotton and Qiana nylon were sold at Kappa conventions, province meetings and other events, along with aprons and quilted pillows made by the association’s needlework group.
|Nancy Broyhill at KKΓ Convention, 1976|
By the late 1970s, the Champagne Brunch fundraisers had been replaced by annual Spring Evening Parties at the Washington D.C. Botanical Gardens, and the Shultz’s were offering Gourmet Cooking Classes as fund raisers.
|Gourmet Cooking Classes|
These couples’ events were enormously successful and spouses/dates looked forward to them as much as the members. The Gourmet Cooking interest group was also going strong and one of its more memorable gatherings was a “Roman Feast in Ancient Style,” complete with togas. By all accounts, the food was unremarkable but the festivities were fabulous.
Through the years, the philanthropies supported by the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association have evolved. By the 1970s, the association was no longer working with the Crippled Children’s Clinic, but had added the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, Belle Willard School (for physically-handicapped children), Northern Virginia Association for Retarded Citizens and Parent-to-Parent as beneficiaries. In the 1980s, funds were directed to the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia and the YWCA Special Olympics. When Reading is Fundamental became Kappa’s national philanthropy, the association began supporting the RIF literacy program.
The Northern Virginia Alumnae Association’s partnership with RIF has been going on for nearly fifteen years. Each year, association members perform a day of service, reading to local underprivileged children and doing literacy activities with them. In addition, funds are provided to purchase books.
The Northern Virginia Alumnae Association has always provided financial and adviser support to Gamma Chi chapter at George Washington University. It has also provided financial support to Gamma Kappa at William & Mary and Epsilon Sigma at the University of Virginia (after its 1976 installation). In recent years, Northern Virginia Kappas have served as long-distance advisers to Zeta Mu at Virginia Tech.
One cannot write about the Association’s chapter support without mentioning the extraordinary Polly Beall, George Washington, who served as a chapter adviser to Gamma Chi and Gamma Psi, and Lambda Province Director of Chapters (PDC). Even after she completed her term as PDC, she regularly visited the chapters of Lambda Province providing workshops, guidance and support. She also served as a member of the Fraternity’s Ritual Study Committee and Panhellenic Affairs Committee. Polly received the 1978 Kappa Kappa Gamma Loyalty Award, the highest award that can be bestowed on a member.
In 1985, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association donated $1,000 to the Heritage Museum of Kappa Kappa Gamma for the purchase of an 1850s-era Waterford chandelier to be installed in the newly-refurbished dining room at 530 East Town Street. The chandelier was dedicated in memory of John Beall, Polly’s husband. A cover story about the chandelier and its dedication appeared in the Fall 1986 issue of The Key.
Polly’s husband John was a fixture at Kappa Conventions for many years, the eternal “Kappa man.” He built furniture and mail boxes for the chapter rooms at Gamma Chi, and carved award gavels for Lambda Province. Those gavels continued to be awarded to the best chapters and alumnae associations in the province until the Fraternity abandoned the province structure in 2015. Polly and John, pictured right, at the 1980 Kappa Convention.
In the 1970s, the association decided to start interest groups as a means of extending programming and attracting more members. Several Kappa bridge groups had been meeting for years but members were looking for more ways to get together outside of the regular meetings. The number of interest groups was expanded to include a book discussion group, Night Owls (employed, generally young, Kappas), a gourmet cooking group (with spouses), a tour group, and a needlework group. Most interest groups met monthly to pursue their interests in addition to the regular association meetings.
After successfully selling many quilted pillows made with Frankie Welch scarves, the needlework group decided to make a “Log Cabin” quilt to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the association. It was an instant hit and over the past forty years, the needlework group has made 14 quilts and raised more than $10,000 for charities like Children’s Hospital, Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and rehabilitation projects.
Dot Cosby, Mona Shultz and Meg Kophazi sell raffle tickets for 1993 quilt
In the mid-1980s, a new interest group was formed, the Kap-Pres, for mothers of preschoolers. These Kappas especially enjoyed getting together to share the problems and successes of motherhood. As the children grew, the group adopted the name KICKs, for Kappas with Infants, Children and Kids. It remains one of the most popular interest groups in the association, and there are spinoff groups whose children have left the “nest” but the moms continue to get together.
By the 1990s, twelve interest groups were flourishing. Kappas were gathering for golf, theatre, evenings out, lunch, and other activities, as well as the ever-popular gourmet dinners, tours (now called “Out & Ab out”), needlecraft and book discussions.
Interest groups continue to be enormously popular. In recent years, regional interest groups have flourished, allowing members to get together close to home or work. Events include dinners and happy hours at local restaurants, tours, or activities such as jewelry making and watercolor painting. A Daytimers group provides opportunities for members who prefer to get together for tours and/or lunch during the day. A wine-lovers group schedules visits to local wineries. Pictured left is the “Out and About” interest group on the Capitol steps in 1985.
AWARDS & LEADERSHIP
It has been a challenge to research all of the awards the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association has earned over the years, but it has been recognized regularly for excellence in all areas. At the 1967 Lambda Province Meeting, the association was recognized as the best alumnae association in all of Lambda Province (which at that time included North Carolina and South Carolina as well as Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and D.C.). The award was one of John Beall’s hand-carved gavels.
Alberta Carten and Molly Cromwell with Lambda Province award for Overall Excellence 1967 (Box and gavel crafted by John Beall)
The association won the Shryock Award at the 1976 and 1982 General Conventions, and was runner-up for the McNaboe Award in 1976, 1978 and 1982. In 1992, the association won both McNaboe and Shryock awards. It received the Lambda Province Meeting award for overall excellence in 1993, and the Philanthropy award in 1995 and 1997. Once the McNaboe Commitment Award was instituted in 1996, Northern Virginia was a consistent winner. It has also received recognition for Communications/PR, Membership Growth, and Rose McGill Magazine Sales.
In addition to Fraternity awards, the association has been recognized by the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation for its consistent contributions, earning Adelphae Level in 1994.
Over the years, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Association has had many members take leadership roles in Lambda Province, both as Province Directors of Chapters and Province Directors of Alumnae. Others have served as Fraternity Committee chairmen and members. In the 1990s, two association members were elected to serve on the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Council. Betty Hines Bloore, Mississippi, was elected to the office of Director of Alumnae in 1992, and Julie Martin Mangis, George Washington, was elected Director of Alumnae in 1996. Both later served on the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation Board of Trustees. Mangis served 12 years as Museums Chairman for the Foundation and was honored with the Kappa Kappa Gamma Loyalty Award in 2010.
Julie Mangis with the 2010 Loyalty Award, a silver dish
The Northern Virginia Alumnae Association continues to provide a full schedule of activities for its members. Including the offerings of interest groups, there can be as many as eight events to choose from in one month. Most importantly, there is something for everyone. In a frenetic Internet world where women are busier than ever, Kappas enjoy the time spent in sisterhood and friendship, much as they have over the past decades. We look forward to the next 70 years!
1948-49 Barbara Tranter Curley