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Alpha Zeta Chapter of Tri Kappa Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Knightstown’s Alpha Zeta chapter of Kappa Kappa Kappa (Tri Kappa) sorority celebrated its 100th anniversary with a 100th birthday tea at Spiceland Friends Church Saturday.
Decked out in vintage hats, dress suits and pantsuits, nearly 60 smartly-coifed ladies enjoyed upscale hors d’ouevres, a rundown of the chapter’s historical highlights and, of course, tea during the two-hour-long affair.
Founded in 1908, the Alpha Zeta chapter is an offshoot of Kappa Kappa Kappa, a philanthropic sorority of women which exists only in Indiana. The statewide group features 123 associate chapters and 147 active chapters, for a total of nearly 10,000 members. Knightstown, which has both associate and active chapters, was Tri Kappa’s 28th chapter to reach the 100-year milestone.
Tri Kappa members focus their energy on three areas of community service: charity, culture and education. Over the last 100 years, Alpha Zeta has donated over $100,000 to local charities and given tens of thousands more in organizing and sponsoring dozens of cultural events at local schools.
Saturday’s celebration was a culmination of months of work on the part of various 100th anniversary committees organized with Alpha Zeta. Janet Linch headed up the effort and numerous other members tackled various tasks such as food, decorations, history, etc.
Tri Kappa Council President Kathy Chorba got the business meeting underway welcoming members and congratulating the chapter on hitting the century mark. “It is an honor and my pleasure to join you today as you celebrate 100 years of service to Kappa Kappa Kappa,” Chorba said. “ … as your council president, I have chosen as my theme for this biennium, ‘She doeth little kindnesses.’ Knightstown Alpha Zeta continues to demonstrate that kindness 100 years after their founding. Council knows they will serve Tri Kappa kindly for many years to come and we offer you our sincerest congratulations on this most joyous occasion.”
In 1908, nine Knightstown women sought a charter for a new chapter here. Their names included Edna Carrol, Ruby Copper, Ruby Zion, Mary Wagoner, Edna Wink, Mary Newby, Erma Cary, Ada Binford and Lucille Garritson. The group wanted to bolster their charter application and asked community leaders to write letters of recommendation to the Tri Kappa’s governing body. One letter, from then school superintendent Prof. R.M. Eldrod, assured decision-makers that the Knightstown group was worthy of the charter. “It is with pleasure that I recommend the young ladies of Knightstown who are applying for a charter of your sorority,” Elrod wrote. “They have all been good students of our high school, and are of the best social standing.”
Other recommendation letters came from Senator L.P. Newby and Erma R. Bales of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at DePauw University in Greencastle. The pleas for a charter didn’t fall on deaf ears as Tri Kappa leadership officially installed the Alpha Zeta chapter on March 27, 1908. At that time, there were 27 other chapters around the state.
An entertaining portion of Saturday’s program came when nine current members portrayed the nine charter members. Each wore some sort of period-style clothing, including some antique hats and white gloves. Barb Haase of Knightstown portrayed founding member Lucille Garritson. “I graduated from Knightstown High School last year in the Class of 1907 and went to Northwestern University that fall,” Haase said. Current Alpha Zeta member Janet Davidson wrote the skit and it was well-received by the enthusiastic audience.
Karen Vise offered attendees a trip to the past with a comprehensive timeline of major Alpha Zeta accomplishments, donations and milestones throughout the chapter’s 100-year history. The following are some highlights from Vise’s presentation.
• Knightstown’s Minnie Wink served as state Tri Kappa vice president in 1910.
• Bessie Wright won Alpha Zeta’s first local scholarship in 1923.
• Alpha Zeta has initiated 610 members in its 100 years.
• The local group’s work with Red Cross began in 1917.
• From 1908-1926, Alpha Zeta earmarked no money for culture, one of its three main concerns. But, from 1927-1929, the group gave the culture $5 each year. By 1950, that amount climbed to $30. To date, Alpha Zeta has contributed nearly $24,000 to bolstering cultural endeavors in the Knightstown area.
• In 1931, Alpha Zeta joined with other local organizations in forming the Cheer Guild, which still exists today.
• In 1943, the newly constructed Sunset Park shelter house was furnished with funds donated by Alpha Zeta.
• Aiding efforts to construct a swimming pool at Sunset Park in 1957, Alpha Zeta members presented their “Big Splash Follies” show, ticket proceeds from which were donated to the pool fund. The show featured Joan Jolly, granddaughter of Alpha Zeta charter member Edna (Wink) Jolly. Pat (Sorrell) Nicholas also performed.
• Alpha Zeta celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1958 at the home of Dorothy Cortner at the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home.
• The year 1966 saw the chapter purchase a new short wave radio for the Knightstown Police Department.
• The late Helen Dickey chaired the state A.C.T. committee in 1964.
• Alpha Zeta’s associate chapter was formed in 1967.
• After devastating tornadoes tore through the area, Alpha Zetas hosted a card party and style show. Proceeds were distributed to tornado victims.
• The chapter celebrated its 75th anniversary at Westwood Country Club in 1983.
• Alpha Zeta’s famous cheeseball operation got underway in 1986 with members hand-making 280 balls. Less than 10 years later that number jumped to 700.
• In 1998-99, the chapter donated $1,000 to Habitat for Humanity.
• Sixty-five hundred dollars in scholarships was awarded in 2004.
• Alpha Zeta purchased a commemorative brick at the Henry County Area Veterans Memorial in Knightstown in 2006.
• Tri Kappa sorority was founded in Indianapolis in 1901.Since 1913, the organizations has awarded over $5 million in academic scholarships.
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