Gwen Frostic, Alpha Sigma Tau, on Founders’ Day #amazingsororitywomen

Happy Founders’ Day, Alpha Sigma Tau! On November 4, 1899, eight young women, Mable Chase, Ruth Dutcher, May Gephart, Harriet Marx, Eva O’Keefe, Adriance Rice, Helene Rice, and Mayene Tracy, formed a sorority at the Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Alpha Sigma Tau was the name they chose. The organization became national in October 1925.  In 1926, Alpha Sigma Tau joined the Association of Education Sororities (AES). Alpha Sigma Tau became a full member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) when the merger of AES and NPC was formalized in 1951.

The list of attendees at the 1925 Convention includes two names that are familiar to me. The first is Gwen Frostic, the naturalist, artist and writer. The other is Mildred Doran, an Alpha Sigma Tau about whom I have previously blogged (see http://wp.me/p20I1i-2yA).

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Sara Gwendolen Frostic was born on April 26, 1906 in Sandusky, Michigan. She enrolled at Eastern Michigan University and became a member of the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau. She earned a teaching certificate from EMU. 

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She then enrolled in Western Michigan University. She had always had an interesting in artistic endeavors and she tried her hand at linoleum block printing. She began designing and producing stationery and prints. Presscraft Papers was the name of her company. In the 1950s she opened a small shop in Frankfort, Michigan. In 1960, she purchased 40 acres of land in Benzonia, Michigan. In 1964,  a shop opened for business on the property and she spent the rest of her life on that land. The Gwen Frostic Shop in Benzonia is still in operation.

At the 16th Alpha Sigma Tau Convention, held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1966, members who had attended three or more AST conventions were given a package of Gwen Frostic stationery. I wonder if it was of a yellow rose, AST’s flower.

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The Lansing Alumnae Clubs sold her stationery as a fundraiser. The Fall 1974 Anchor included this poem.

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She was also a member of P.E.O. for 55 years. She was initiated into chapter AF/Benzonia, Michigan on January 4, 1936. She was a member of Chapter BJ, Frankfort, Michigan from 1957 until her death in 2001. P.E.O. chapters would often sell her stationery as fundraisers, too.

May 23, 1978 was Gwen Frostic Day in Michigan. In 1986, she became a member of the Michigan Woman’s Hall of Fame.

Frostic died on  April 25, 2001.  She left a bequest of a gift of $13 million to Western Michigan University as an unrestricted gift. The University chose to use the funds to honor Frostic’s artistic endeavors. There was a name change and the Gwen Frostic School of Art became a reality. The English Department sponsors a Gwen Frostic Reading Series and there are scholarships for students in art and creative writing. There are also scholarships for business students. Additionally, three Gwen Frostic Medallion Scholarships are awarded to incoming freshman and are each valued at $40,000 over four years.

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© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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