“Life, Learning and Friendship” is the motto of Beta Sigma Phi.
Fifty years ago, 12 young women – Bobbie Brandes, Mary Heim, Charlotte Vinup, Wanda Swain, Louella Voegele, Carolyn Spence, Shirley Carmichael, Pat Hoegeman, Rosemary Prickel, Peggy Blair, Gloria Paras and Virgie Dowell – took these words to heart when they pledged into the sorority’s Theta Nu Chapter Nov. 11, 1963. Two of the original members, Heim and Voegele, have remained sorority sisters over the past five decades.
Beta Sigma Phi is an international organization founded in 1931 by Walter Ross, according to its Web site. During the Great Depression, there was a need for an organization that could bring women together and expose them to a social, cultural and educational climate that was not available in those difficult times. Most importantly, there was a need for friendship and support from other women.
The sorority grew, with new chapters starting within the same town or close vicinity. “They were called Friendly Ventures,” reports Jan Prickel, who joined the local group in 1980. “The Theta Nu Chapter was a Friendly Venture of the Xi Beta Delta Chapter, Greensburg.
“In order to give back to the community, we have had fundraisers. The first was a raffle for a Barbie Doll and 27 outfits. Tickets were sold for 25 cents or five for $1. It was won by Marilyn Hentz, Cincinnati. The chapter cleared $81.75.”
Members also sold chances for an electric can opener. “At one point, you could find (sorority) sisters at Liberty Park selling snow cones on Sunday or at festivals.
Various moneymakers have narrowed to one annual blockbuster. “For 41 years, we have held the holiday bazaar. Local craftsmen and vendors are invited to rent spaces and tables to set up and sell their creations. We also have lunch available and a traditional cookie walk,” she says. “Money made is then budgeted out for the next year .... We do work hard preparing for and conducting our only fundraiser.”