The Triangle • Spring 2019

Page 36


By Liz Johns, Delta Omicron, National Archivist

Working The Golden Girls: Celebrations of Golden Violets and Anniversaries from the Beginning To commit to something for 50 years is a major achievement, and Tri Sigma recognizes 50 years of dedication for both chapters and individuals through celebrations and awards. The first celebration of 50 years occurred in 1948 with the Golden Anniversary of Tri Sigma’s founding. It was officially over three days in Farmville, Virginia, with the Alpha chapter, but the sorority marked the entire year as a “Jubilee Year” of celebration. At this milestone, the sorority celebrated the achievements of chapters, individuals and the overall organization, even gifting Longwood College an antique grandfather clock to commemorate the event. Since then, Tri Sigma has celebrated many more golden achievements, for both chapters and individuals, most notably through the Golden Violet Award.

Although the sorority reached 50 years in 1948, the first Golden

Violet Award was not presented until 1954 when it was given to

Mabel Lee Walton. As the first recipient, Walton was recognized for

her 50 years of faithful membership and dedication to the sorority.

Two years later, Mabel Lee’s sister, Emily Walton Holloway, received

her Golden Violet award from the current National President, her own daughter, Mary Hastings Holloway Page.

But just being a Tri Sigma for 50 years does not automatically earn

one this special award; it requires that the member has been loyal and

steadfast through the years. Alumnae must be nominated by a chapter

or individual member, and must have demonstrated loyalty to the sorority for 50 years or more through active participation in alumna life, serving

the sorority as a volunteer and paying lifetime dues or dues for over 20

years. The award marks a special achievement for women who have held such long-term dedication to Tri Sigma, and often becomes a goal for

many Tri Sigma women. A great example of the dedication of our Golden Violets is Joan Baker Shearer, Chi, who was initiated in 1946 and served

Collegiate and alumnae chapters celebrate golden anniversaries

as well. After Alpha, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Omicron and Pi celebrated their 50th anniversaries in the 1960s, and all recently celebrated 100 years

as well. This year, just one active collegiate chapter will celebrate their 50th Anniversary, Gamma Psi, and next year, Golden Anniversaries

will be celebrated by Delta Beta and Delta Delta. Alumnae chapters are also going strong, many of them with longevity and steadfast

dedication. The first alumnae chapter to celebrate 50 years was the

Toledo Area Alumnae Chapter in 1995, followed only a few weeks later by Metro Detroit who also celebrated 100 years in 2005. This year, the

Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter will also celebrate 100 years of Tri Sigma history, adding another page to our growing history.

If you have momentos, photos or recollections from your

chapter’s Golden Anniversaries, please send them to the National

Archives to add to the growing collection. For questions regarding the

National Archives or Tri Sigma’s history, contact

as vice president, president and Panhellenic representative. In 1959,

Shearer started national service, and served as National Vice President

and Collegiate Vice President for three trienniums, from 1968-77. Shearer

was also a long-time member of the Wichita Alumnae Chapter, remaining dedicated to Tri Sigma throughout her life. Shearer donated her jewelry to the Archives in 2017, ensuring that her story and her impact on Tri Sigma history remains strong.

36 the TRIANGLE | spring 2019

The award itself has not changed much in the past 65 years—the pins given to women this year are almost identical to the one presented to Mabel Lee Walton in 1954: a small gold violet pin, which can be worn alone, or as a badge guard.