“Sis Doc,” Kappa Sigma and Chi Omega, Born 150 Years Ago Today!

Dr. Charles Richardson, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, dentist, was born 150 years ago today, on January 8, 1864, in Rich Valley, Virginia. He was one of 11 children. 

He did his undergraduate work at Emory & Henry College in Virginia and he studied dentistry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. An active member of Kappa Sigma at both schools, he served his fraternity as a national officer.

He once owned the Fayetteville Gazette and was its editor for several years. He drove one of the first cars in Fayetteville.

However, what Dr. Richardson is most famous for is his role in the founding of Chi Omega and his lifelong dedication to the organization. With his guidance, Chi Omega was founded on April 5, 1895 at the University of Arkansas by Ina May Boles, Jean Vincenheller, Jobelle Holcombe, and Alice Simonds. He was known as “Sis Doc” to generations of Psi Chapter members (the founding chapter at Arkansas is known as the Psi Chapter) and he is counted as a founder. He crafted Chi Omega’s first badge out of dental gold.

Original Chi Omega badge crafted in dental gold by "Doc Sis."

Original Chi Omega badge crafted in dental gold by “Sis Doc.”

“Sis Doc” often wore a pearl horseshoe stick pin on his lapel. The stickpin is also on display at Chi Omega’s Headquarters in Memphis. The watch fob he was apt to wear had a Kappa Sigma badge on one side and a miniature Chi Omega badge on the other. The fob was not located after his death.

charles richardson

He often visited Chi Omega chapters and was a presence at Chi Omega conventions. On his travels to and from the Kappa Sigma Conclave in Philadelphia in 1900, “Sis Doc” visited the Chi Omega chapters at the University of Tennessee and Randolph-Macon Women’s College.

The June 1900 Eleusis carried this message, “For the first time since the magazine was started, the readers of the Eleusis are not favored by an article from the pen of our founder, Dr. Charles Richardson. He was asked for a contribution, but replied that he thought Chi Omegas would like a change. The editor did not agree with him, and it was only after he pleaded pressing duties as a member of Kappa Sigma’s Supreme Executive Committee that she decided to try to do without his assistance.”

The article continued, “Since leaving college, he has kept in touch with his fraternity, and has been a close student of fraternity affairs. He has attended the last three Conclaves of Kappa Sigma, and is now serving a second term as W.G.P., the second office of the Supreme Executive Committee The Caduceus says: ‘Dr. Charles Richardson has for many years taken an active interest in Kappa Sigma, and his election to the office of W.G.P. is a tribute to the high regard in which he is held by the delegates to the recent Conclave. His wise course upon all matters of legislation commended him strongly to those who exercised an influence at the Conclave, for he was indeed one of themselves, and it is safe to say that his vigor and firmness will make him an ideal W.G.P.’”

He was instrumental in helping establish the first three men’s fraternities at Arkansas – Kappa Sigma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Kappa Alpha Order. He also “drafted the constitution and by-laws of Chi Omega, and has taught the mother chapter what Greek life really is. In fact, he may be called the premier of Psi. He has always been ready to counsel us when perplexing questions arise. He has often given financial assistance as well.”

He died in 1924 and is buried in Fayetteville. His role as a founder of Chi Omega is acknowledged on his grave stone.


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(c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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