was mild for a winter Saturday in Kansas City. The high that Dec. 27, 1919, was
an acceptable 45 degrees F. Still, the AOIIs in Kansas City undoubtedly bundled
up to fight the chill as they made their way to gather for a joyous task: to
found the Kansas City alumnae chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi.
Their enthusiasm was likely emboldened by recent advances for women. In Montana, only 2 years before, the first woman ever was elected to Congress. And, within months, all women would have the right to vote. Even women’s bodies were — literally — set free as corsets finally became passé. And everyone was, of course, in a celebratory mood due to the end of “The Great War” the previous month on Nov. 11.
The faces of the AOIIs who gathered that day were undoubtedly fresh and young. After all, Jessie, Helen, Stella, and Bess were themselves only in their early 40s. And the collegiate chapters from which most of the Kansas City AOIIs had likely graduated were fairly new. Phi at the University of Kansas, for example, had formed only the year before, and Iota at the University of Illinois started in 1911. Graduates from Nebraska — where Zeta started in 1903 — would have been among the oldest attendees.
One hundred years later, a group of 49 women gathered on Jan. 4 in honor of AOII’s founders, as well as the women who initiated the Greater Kansas City Alumnae Chapter 100 years ago. At a reception and dinner, the women remembered the individuals who fearlessly challenged themselves to continue serving the values to which they had pledged themselves during their college years. Cocktails kicked off the evening event before KCAOII President Kate Favrow (Iota) welcomed attendees to the celebration. Kate then introduced special guest International President Crystal Grafton Combs (Nu Beta) who focused in on that idea of “fearlessness” regarding our founders and all of us who continue to carry on their legacies.
Among those in attendance were eight 50-year members of AOII, four founding members of the Delta Pi collegiate chapter at the University of Central Missouri (Warrensburg, Mo.), six past presidents of KCAOII, and individuals representing chapters from University of Arkansas (Xi Omicron), University of Missouri (Delta Alpha), University of Nebraska (Zeta), University of Illinois (Iota), Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Delta Xi), University of Mississippi (Nu Beta), University of Nebraska — Kearney (Phi Sigma), Arkansas State University (Sigma Omicron), and large contingents from the University of Kansas (Phi) and Delta Pi.
Traditional Founders’ Day remembrances were incorporated into the evening’s activities, along with the presentation of Collegian of the Year (Rebecca Mader, Xi Omicron; Katia Krysa, Delta Pi; and Laura Vanderfeltz, Delta Pi) and Alumnae of the Year (Cara Mahon Finger, Delta Pi). The evening closed out with songs, a slideshow presentation of past events, a review of historical artifacts, group photos, and a very appropriate dessert: rose-decorated red velvet cake.