Angelos Winter 2017 : Page 46

A Day Like No Other

Judy Hare Thorne, Angelos Editor Emeritus

FOUNDERS DAY EVENT CELEBRATES KAPPA DELTA'S PAST AND FUTURE

It was a Founders Day celebration for the ages.

Under cloudless, bright-blue skies, with warm temperatures moderated by a cooling breeze, approximately 125 Kappa Deltas and other guests gathered on Oct. 23,2016, to celebrate the sorority's 119th birthday in an extraordinary way – at National Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.

The centerpiece of the day was the dedication of the new Kappa Delta museum and an open house to show off all the changes that had gone into a four-year repair and renovation of the headquarters building.

The gathering was typical of a KD event with sisters greeting one another with hugs and chatter and using smartphones to snap photos and selfies right and left. It drew both collegians and alumnae from coast to coast, including current and past members of the National Council, Kappa Delta Foundation board and National Leadership Team. Of note was the presence of six former national presidents – Corre Anding Stegall, Patricia Beecham Nieman, Elizabeth Wibker, Julie Landgren Johnson, Bonnie Purvis Warren and Beth Martin Langford – as well as National President Alison Jakes Argersinger.

The open invitation to all Kappa Deltas generated a number of road trips to Memphis. Five members of the Greater Atlanta Day Alumnae Chapter – Dorothy Mears, Linda Powers Routenberg, Nancy Wright Courtney, Chris Eloff Adams and Patricia Anderson Tooke – drove seven hours each way for the occasion. Dot, a member of the National Leadership Team, said the experience was inspirational. "We left Memphis with a renewed commitment to Kappa Delta . . . thankful for our collegiate experience, but most thankful for our alumnae experience."

Standing in front of the Georgian-style brick building with its soaring columns, Executive Director Pamela Nix officially welcomed guests who were seated in chairs on the spacious circular drive. "Headquarters is so much more than a building," she said. "It is the home for our entire sisterhood, and it embodies all that we represent, have been and are to become. It is the first building built specifically to serve as Kappa Delta's headquarters."

Kappa Delta's home in Memphis is a far cry from previous offices. Best known of the early offices are the suite of rooms at 900 Landers Building in Springfield, Missouri, 1943 to 1976, and 2211 S. Josephine, the former Chi Chapter house in Denver that housed a staff of six when it opened in 1976. A staff of nearly 20 moved into the current headquarters that was constructed at 3205 Players Lane in 1992.

Today, the headquarters staff has grown to 43, reflecting the growth of the sorority and necessitating the need for more office space. In addition to reconfiguring the space on the main floor, the former basement, with its concrete floor and cinderblock walls, was turned into bright, spacious offices worthy of now being called the "lower level."

Lack of space wasn't the only reason for the major renovation. In 24 years, the security system; heating, air conditioning and ventilation system; telephone lines; and technology cabling had become outdated. Another important project was revamping Kappa Delta's archives, installing up-to-date technological features, such as humidity controls to protect the artifacts and enhance the presentation of Kappa Delta's history.

"There are no words for the endless effort and energy put into this project that involved KD volunteers and industry experts," Pamela said.

Instead of moving to temporary off-site offices during the renovation, the staff cut costs by remaining in the building despite the pounding of jackhammers and the whining of saws. Everyone moved to the basement level for seven months and set up their "offices" side by side on 8-foot tables. "They kept things running without complaint," Pamela said, "and the upside was that we got to know each other very well." Money saved meant finishing touches that would not have been possible otherwise.

Former Director of Operations Ruth Swift Newberry was renovation project manager until March 2016 and collaborated with Jennifer Hitt Brunson who finished the task. Pamela laughed and said, "We like to say Ruth was in charge of the drainage, and Jennifer got to do the decorating."

The design committee – National President Alison Argersinger, former National President Beth Langford, Foundation Chairman Bonnie Warren, Foundation Vice Chairman Patty Graham Cappaert and Executive Director Pamela Nix – worked overtime to stay true to the building's architectural details while meeting today's business needs.

Bonnie and Patty spent a year scouring antiques shops, fabric mills and antique-rug purveyors for just the right period additions, also seeking local artisans to refurbish, repair and recover existing pieces that were gifted to headquarters. Furnishings include French and English antiques from the early to mid-i8oos and a Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier, one of the last commissioned by Graham's Lighting from Pilutti Luigi Lampadari, one of Italy's finest lighting fixture shops.

"Patty and I can tell you about every bump in the road between our homes in Mississippi and 3205 Players Lane," Bonnie said. "We have laughed that we could now serve as tour guides for the antiques trails from Memphis to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to New Orleans."

During her welcome address, Alison said that although she was in on the design decisions and had seen photos of the changes, she was in awe of the results. "When I walked in this morning, I had tears well up in my eyes. You will be so proud of our home."

The museum renovation brought together staff, volunteers and an exhibits firm renown for its work. Overseeing the effort were museum committee members Julie Johnson, Corre Stegall, Cynthia Allen Weston, Judy Hare Thorne, Heidi Moore Roy, Kristen Archer, Shirley McCann Gee and Lindsey Archer as well as Bonnie, Patty, Alison, Beth and Pamela.

Alison introduced two of the women featured in the museum's exhibit of notable KDs who came to the dedication: Suzy Spafford, Beta Rho-San Diego State, creator of the Suzy's Zoo international product line, and Patricia Wood Barnes, Delta Delta-Troy, founder of Sister Schubert's Rolls, which are sold in grocery stores throughout the country. Others featured in the exhibit are Kappa Deltas Georgia O'Keeffe, Pearl S. Buck, Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, Janet Marie Smith and more.

While Kappa Deltas customarily read the national president's Founders Day message in The Angelos each year, dedication guests enjoyed hearing Alison read it in person. She said, "It is an especially poignant Founders Day because we will be seeing the museum and the rich history that inspires the annual commemoration of what occurred on that rainy day at Farmville, Virginia."

For former national presidents Pat Nieman and Corre Stegall, this dedication was a bit of deja vu. On a similarly sunny October day in 1993, Pat as national president and Corre as foundation chairman celebrated Founders Day and dedicated the brand-new headquarters building by cutting a ceremonial ribbon. Twenty-three years later, the two joined in the same ceremony, sharing the spotlight with Alison and Bonnie, as well as Beth, during whose term as national president the renovations began.

Alison explained that it was Pat's dream to have a new, dedicated headquarters. Pat praised the renovations, saying, "The museum is fabulous, and I could have spent the entire weekend there. Everything is perfect – our KD home and all that's in it, especially the love."

Probably the best known of all KD artifacts is the Alpha Trunk, the original wood and metal trunk used by the founders and early members to hold the tangible beginnings of Kappa Delta: the Ritual, correspondence, pictures, a ledger and more. Recently restored to its 1897 beauty through a fundraising effort by former National Council member Jodie McTeer Johnson, the Alpha Trunk and its contents stand prominently in a glass case in the center of the museum.

Shirley Gee, who as archives manager has been the caretaker of KD memorabilia since 2001, proudly unveiled the Alpha Trunk display earlier in the day. "What an honor to be part of the team appointed to oversee its restoration along with renovating and revitalizing the museum," she said. "Our Kappa Delta history and relics are preserved for another generation to appreciate."

For Krissy Tolle Taylor, Delta Gamma-Western Kentucky, the Alpha Trunk display was the most impressive. "I imagined the hands that had grasped those leather strap handles as it was transferred from one dorm room to another, the secrets it holds and the stories it could tell."

Nearby is the desk that once belonged to Minnie Mae Prescott, legendary Kappa Delta who served as executive secretary from 1943-1975. Along with other desk items on display is the hand embosser for stamping the gold Kappa Delta seal to each membership certificate. "I could almost see Minnie Mae sitting at that desk, stamping my 1974 membership certificate," Krissy said.

If there had been a long-distance award for collegians, it would have gone to Tania Quezada and Sarah Hauser, both Zeta Zeta-Cal State/San Bernardino. "Seeing National Headquarters has been on my bucket list," Tania said, "and the email invitation from KD gave me the crazy idea to just fly out." She will remember meeting amazing women with a sisterly connection, seeing the Alpha Trunk and spending time with Alison in the Council Room. "I felt like I was meeting the president of the United States in the White House, but the Kappa Delta version."

Several husbands attended as well. Longtime national volunteer Tove Bichel Thomas, Omicron- Illinois Wesleyan, said her husband, Steve, took it all in. "He knows how much it all means to me and was really impressed with the wall of esteemed alumnae and the lovely building. Most of all . . . the friendly welcome he received."

While guests were free to wander the building at their leisure, small-group tours guided by HQ staffers provided the background narrative. Included was a tour video about the sorority's history, a touchingly sentimental piece created by Kristen Archer, senior multimedia manager. Among other museum highlights are vintage chapter recruitment outfits, Julia Tyler Wilson's 1940s dress, national president memorabilia, KD jewelry through the ages and much more, including a historical timeline and the sorority's charter.

Carol Musser Coordt, former national vice president and current National Panhellenic Conference delegate alternate, said of the event, "It will stand out as one of those times when we cherish being a KD. Who would have ever dreamed of the years of sisterhood we have shared when we were first given our badges."

It was such a meaningful event that many began to ask: "What would our lives have been if we had not become Kappa Deltas?" There's an easy answer: We would not have experienced the sweet sisterhood that we share.

To discover for yourself the wonders of Kappa Delta's history through the new displays at National Headquarters, head to Memphis. Anytime you arrive during business hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., there will be a staff member eager to give you a personal tour.

There's no better way to see the very heart of Kappa Delta

Read the full article at http://www.onlinedigeditions.com/article/A+Day+Like+No+Other/2667555/369648/article.html.

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