Corre Anding Stegall, National Panhellenic Conference First Alternate Delegate 2017-04-13 02:20:36
104 and Counting "Every encounter with Chi Chi reinforces that Kappa Delta sisterhood is precious and lifelong." Agnes "Chi Chi" Robinson Grafton has lived long enough to see a line of 19 men serve as president of the United States. William Howard Taft sat in the Oval Office when she was born on Sept. 18, 1912. LaJeune Forrey was Kappa Delta's national president, and the sorority was only 15 years old. Known almost all her life by her nickname, Chi Chi got the name from her brother who was 11 months older than she. She says, "When I was born he tried to call me 'Sister,' but it came out as 'Chi Chi.' It just stuck, and I have been called that always." While there are fewer Kappa Deltas who remember World War II, Chi Chi is in a more elite group – those who recall World War I that took place from 1914 to 1918. The Alpha Chi-Louisiana Tech alumna says, "I was just a child, so I don't have too many memories of it, but I knew it was going on." Chi Chi has seen the progression of radio to television to internet; two-piece candlestick telephones to rotary phones, push-button phones, cordless phones, cellular phones and now smartphones. All have been a part of her life. Chi Chi grew up in Ruston, Louisiana, home of Louisiana Tech University, which was founded in 1894 as the Louisiana Polytechnic Institute. While at Tech, she was named Campus Sweetheart and became a member of Lambda Theta, a local sorority that spent 1928-1931 petitioning Kappa Delta for membership and meeting the requirements to become a chapter. Each member was required to provide a personal biography and letters of reference from prominent community citizens and college officials; these, along with a photograph, were bound into a "Charter Book" for the National Council as they deliberated whether to accept the petition. After its acceptance in early 1931, Alpha Chi Chapter was installed on April 25, 1931, and Chi Chi was among the first group of initiates. She is the oldest living member of the chapter. She remembers well the excitement and anticipation of the chapter's Installation and all the events that surrounded it. The chapter was sponsored by Epsilon-Louisiana State, and many of the Alpha Chi sisters knew Epsilon members, so from the beginning, their purpose was to be Kappa Deltas. Their Lambda Theta badge was very similar to the Kappa Delta badge; their colors were green and white; and the white rose was their flower. Early Lambda Theta memorabilia is carefully preserved and on display in Alpha Chi's lodge. There was no chapter housing during Chi Chi's time in the chapter; rather, girls lived in the dormitories or at home – as she did. Nonetheless, they got together often and enjoyed just being together, planning what their chapter could become. After earning her business degree from Tech in 1932, Chi Chi married George "Sport" Grafton and taught bookkeeping, shorthand and typing in high school before going to work with the Soil Conservation Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, then with Arkla Gas and Louisiana Power and Light. She retired in the mid-1970s. Today, Chi Chi enjoys crocheting and solving word-search puzzles, and she says, "I stay in touch with family and friends and spend a lot of time talking with all of them." The mother of sons Dr. Warren D. Grafton and Dr. Hoye Grafton, she has a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren, including granddaughter Dr. Melannie Grafton Turpin, Epsilon-Louisiana State. Chi Chi says, "I've been blessed to live a good life and just hope I might be around to see my 105th birthday." When she celebrated her 104th birthday in fall 2016, she had several parties with family and friends and at the Russ Place assisted living facility where she now resides in her own apartment. The local newspaper interviewed her, and she said, "I loved my time as a college student at Louisiana Tech, and I had a lot of good times there. I loved being a Kappa Delta." Alpha Chi chapter members enjoy visiting Chi Chi, and she recently attended a chapter awards luncheon. Lori Wallace, Alpha Chi vice president-membership, says, "She is so full of life and radiates positivity. She is truly an inspiration!" Chi Chi is truly phenomenal. Every encounter with Chi Chi reinforces that Kappa Delta sisterhood is precious and lifelong. Her ease of connection with chapter members, 80-plus years younger than she, is proof positive that our sisterhood knows no boundary of age. She's genuinely interested in them personally and takes great pride in their continued top status on the campus. She's a true sister – a quintessential Kappa Delta. Living Kappa Delta's Ritual, she is a blessing, demonstrating daily how to live a long, good life with optimism and joy. Yearbook photos courtesy of Louisiana Tech; additional photos courtesy of Avery Bryan, Alpha Chi vice president-public relations.
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