In October of 1937, several of the administrators of Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, along with faculty advisor Miss Eugenia Smith and a group of girls, realized the need for a third women's sorority. Since only two Greek women's organizations existed at Tech there was definitely a growing concern to establish a new women's club.
This club was duly organized under the name of Sedarmoc Club (Comrades spelled backwards) and the ultimate aim was to become a local Greek Sorority. The officers were:
President - Dixie Gilbert
Vice President - Ruby Chandler
Secretary - Sue Conger
Treasurer - Eleanor Stinson
Reporters - Melba Hollenshead and Marine Sawyer
Social Chairwomen - Ona Watson and Margaret Finney
Members of the club and their hometowns were:
Martha Jo Brothers - Ruston
Ruby Chandler - Vidalia
Sue Conger - Monroe
Margaret Finney - Vivian
Elizabeth Folse - Oak Ridge
Marjorie Funderburk - Winnsboro
Bonnie Garrett - Haynesville
Dixie Gilbert - Wisner
Camille Hailey - Ruston
Melba Hollenshead - Homer
Lorraine Lowery - Alexandria
Mary Alice McKinney - Hosston
Audrey Palmer - Summerfield
Marine Sawyer - Ruston
Ruth Sconyers - Hall Summit
Rosa Snyder - Jonesville
Eleanor Stinson - Ruston
Oma Watson - Ringgold
Anne Lancaster - Waterproof
Virginia Colvin - Bernice
Elizabeth Bridendall - Alexandria
A total of 21 girls were the beginning group of Sedarmoc Club members. In February 1938, the group petitioned the Panhellenic Council to become a local Greek Sorority and was accepted. The name chosen was Theta Sigma Nu and installation services were held in the chapter room of Harper Dormitory on February 8, 1938. Twenty members were initiated and the sorority planned to conduct rush activities during the next open rush period.
In December 1939, Theta Sigma Nu petitioned Sigma Kappa Sorority to become an affiliated chapter. On March 16, 1940, the local sorority became Beta Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Kappa. The accomplishment of this petition was brought about primarily through the efforts of several local Sigma Kappa alumnae in the Ruston area. Three of these were: Mrs. Helen James, Mrs. Kathleen James and Mrs. Sarah James.
Installation and initiation of 26 chapter members into Sigma Kappa took place at the downtown two-story James building. Anna Harper, National President from California, presided at the ceremony and a beautiful, impressive banquet was held that night.
Those initiated as active members were: Avis Allen, Sarah Bridenhall, Martha Jo Brothers, Johnnye Ruth Cottingham, Catherine Dean, Roberta Dillon, Marjorie Jo Dodson, Elizabeth Folse, Melba Hollenshead, Juanita Jones, Lillian Life, Louise McDonald, Florence Lowe, Verna Dean Lowe, Elaine McDonald, Evelyn McGee, Virginia Morrow, Virginia Palmer, Audrey Palmer, Eleanor Pietsch, Pauline Riley, Rosa Snyder, Eleanor Stout, Margaret Templeton, Lucy Nell Wainwright and Sybil Wurster.
Pledges initiated were: Evelyn Atkinson, Lorraine Bell, Mary Ruth Carter, Miriam Davis, Fay Gilbert, Jarrell Dean Hall, Jackie Hanks, Barbara Herrold, Marguerite Holladay, Shirley Kidd, Margaret Ledford, Marion Miller, Dorothy Moore, Eva Morrow, Maxine Payne, Mary Ellen Pugh, Billie Rhea, Martha Nell Thom and Rosemary Watts. A total of 19 girls were pledged at this time.
Sigma Kappa badges and violet nosegays were given to each active initiate by the sponsoring hostesses in the community. Some of the Greek fraternities and sororities on Tech campus welcomed the new Sigma Kappa members with gifts and congratulations. A fun thing and completely unorthodox behavior the girls did was to run up and down the halls of Aswell Dormitory singing a newly learned Sigma Kappa song!
"Oh she's a Sigma Kappa,Two interesting facts should also be recorded. The wife of the present La. Tech president, Mr. E.S. Richardson, had never been a member of a sorority. Mrs. Richardson was asked to become a Sigma Kappa with the group of girls and she accepted and was also initiated at this time. Another community leader, Mrs. Edwin Hodge, whose husband's father, Mr. O.E. Hodge - one of the founders of the Village of Hodge, LA. - was also initiated as a Sigma Kappa at this time.
A Sigma Kappa girl.
When ‘ere you meet one of this band
It makes your heart just swirl.
For they are kind and loyal
And they are just true blue
And you will find every Sigma is
The kind for me and you!"
(Repeat until you are tired out from singing)
Chapter meetings took place in a special room on the third floor of Harper Hall once a month. Pledge meetings also were held monthly, but separate from active meetings. Dues for Actives were five dollars per month. Pledge dues were two dollars per month. Cost for becoming an Active after one semester of being a Pledge was fifty dollars.
Rush period was for one week during the beginning of the fall semester. Only one or two rush parties were held by each sorority. These usually were hosted in a patroness's home in the Ruston vicinity. Sigma Kappa's were fortunate to have several Rush parties in the La. Tech President's home. Only one big formal dance was held in the spring by each sorority - Invitation only. This was a wonderful event and sorority girls with the help of their boyfriends worked diligently to transform the women's gym into a beautiful setting. The Tech Collegians (band) furnished the dance music for this formal dance. Souvenirs were given to each girl's date and a printed program was provided for the evening.
A few interesting facts and honors concerning some of these founding members are recorded:
- Dixie Gilbert was chosen as a Tech Beauty selected by Louisiana Governor Leche.
- Ruby Chandler was elected one of the Tech Cheerleaders.
- Marjorie Funderburk became the wife of John J. McKeithen who was elected Governor of Louisiana for eight years. Marjorie was first lady of Louisiana from 1964 to 1972. She graduated before the installation of Sigma Kappa.
- Eleanor Stinson and Audrey Palmer were selected Tech Beauties in 1938.
- Juanita Jones, Audrey Palmer, Virginia Palmer and Lucy Nell Wainwright were selected as charter members of the Tech Blue Jackets, an honorary organization fostering school spirit.
- In 1939, Oma Watson and Myrtle Killian were selected Tech Beauties. Margaret Templeton was chosen for Who's Who and Camille Hailey was selected as a Maid for Engineer's Day.
- In 1940, Evelyn McGee was elected Junior Class Treasurer; Eleanor Stout, Marguerite Holladay and Billie Rhea were selected Tech Beauties; Margaret Templeton and Sybil Wurster were selected for Who's Who.
- In 1941, Evelyn McGee and Virginia Morrow were selected for Who's Who; Eva Morrow and Marguerite Holladay were elected cheerleaders; and Juanita Jones was elected President of the Home Economics Club.
As a charter member, I have been privileged to speak to the chapter members on two occasions - once on Founder's Day giving a brief history of the founding of our chapter and once at a meeting during Rush week. I am very grateful and humble to have been asked by Patricia Flournoy, Advisory Board Chairman for Beta Epsilon chapter of Sigma Kappa to write the history of the Chapter's beginning at Louisiana Tech University. I have endeavored to include the significant facts and to present a word picture of members and activities. It has been 64 years since that wonderful day of initiation and memories are forever stored in my heart and mind.
Loyally in the Bond,
Juanita Jones Busbice
Beta Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Kappa
Initiate Number 10 - 1940