Released - April 7, 2010
Eureka College sorority celebrates 100 years of fellowship, service
by Michele lehman
The seven founders and first pledge of the Delta Delta Pi social sorority at Eureka College are, front row from left, Mildred Camp, Cleo Cannon Milligan, Irma Davidson Cannon, Idella Wilson Higdon, Leah Campbell Litchfield, back row Myrta Pearson Ross, first pledge Madge Campbell Holroyd
and Hazel Litchfield Goodale.
Their youthful faces gaze from a photograph hung in a prominent spot on the wall of the Eureka College sorority’s lounge. Their hair is upswept in the fashion of 1910. Their clothing is simple, but elegant. They are seven modern college coeds at the turn of the 19th century, and they are the founders of the Delta Delta Pi social sorority, which observes its 100th anniversary this year.
The founders felt strongly that the organization they so lovingly crafted and saw through to its charter by the state of Illinois in May 1910 should uphold certain ideals, according to sorority president Kristin Diller. “Today we still focus on what was important to the founders: fellowship and support among the sisters, academics, leadership and service,” said Diller, a junior business and accounting double major from Chatsworth.
And since Delta Delta Pi was the first Greek social organization on the Eureka College campus, upholding its tenets are even more important to its members, Diller noted. “We have a lot of tradition to safeguard and carry on,” she said.
As Diller and the sorority’s other 31members reflect on the milestone, they have invited approximately 500 sorority alumnae from across the United States to gather at anniversary events this month.
Among the events is the 100th Birthday Dinner on April 24 that will include a presentation on the sorority’s history and a style show featuring fashions worn by sorority members throughout the decades, according to sorority alumna Stephanie Mullens Hampton of Peoria, who is among alumnae helping sorority members plan events.
“Usually at the annual birthday dinner, alumnae discover what is going on with the sorority currently, but the 100th anniversary should be a time to look back and reflect,” said Hampton, who graduated from Eureka College
in 1996. To that end, the birthday dinner will include a formal meeting to remind alumnae how sorority business is conducted and “to create a memory of the special rituals and traditions that are part of being a Delta Delta Pi,” Hampton said.
The birthday dinner is being held during Eureka College’s annual Alumni Weekend, which will provide additional opportunities for the women to see not only sorority alumnae but other classmates as well, Hampton said. One of those events is the college’s annual Alumni Dinner and Awards Banquet on April 24 at which a Delta Delta Pi alumna will receive Eureka College’s most prestigious alumni award – the Alumni Award of Merit for service to college and community.
Annette Dyar Sherman of Eureka, who graduated from Eureka College in 1941, said she is pleased and humbled to receive the award, especially during her sorority’s centennial year.
“While I was in college, I lived at home but was able to visit the sorority often,” Sherman said. “The girls were very friendly. I was able to break out of my shyness and participate in activities that I would not have done by myself.”
Sorority activities also are what appeal to Devyn Whitmore of Pekin, a sophomore music education major who is the sorority’s vice president.
“One thing I especially like about the sorority house, and that I believe sets us apart, is that we have a lot of girls who are very involved in many campus organizations, which reflects not only our leadership, but the diversity of interests among the girls,” Whitmore said. And, sorority members each hold at least one leadership position within the sorority, including not only executive offices but roles like chaplain, alumni relations coordinator, song leader and philanthropist, who organizes the sorority’s many service projects. Members strive to participate in a different sorority-sponsored service project or fund-raiser each month, Whitmore said. Projects have included volunteering at women’s shelters, collecting used eyeglasses, sending letters to soldiers and taking valentines to nursing home residents.
Opportunities for service and leadership can be found in other campus organizations, but only Greek organizations offer the special bond of sisterhood, sorority president Diller pointed out.
“We really work a lot on getting to know each other and being close with each other,” Diller said. “I will have my experiences and my friends and my memories from here throughout my whole lifetime; it’s not any kind of organization that I’m going to be done with as soon as I graduate.”
The bonds mean even more since Delta Delta Pi has only one chapter – at Eureka College. “It is so cool that we are a local chapter,” Whitmore said. “I love that there are alumnae who are still so involved with us and that they were here, at Eureka College. It’s not like they had something similar at a different school. What was important to an alumna from the 1950s is the same for someone who pledged into the sorority last year.”
Their experiences at Eureka College and in Delta Delta Pi prepared the founding members for great things, Whitmore said. Irma Davidson Cannon taught English and German at Hiram College in Ohio from 1908 to 1946. Idella Wilson Higdon was a missionary teacher in the Philippines in the 1920s and ‘30s. Myrta Pearson Ross completed 10 missionary trips to the Congo from 1918 to 1965, receiving the gold medal of the Order of Leopold II for meritorious service in the Congo. Today, Annette Dyar Sherman’s continued involvement with her alma mater will result in her receiving a college alumni award this month.
“The ideals that were set forth so long ago and that these women lived by are now shaping us as current members,” Diller said. “That’s part of what is exciting and special about being a Delta Delta Pi.”
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