Sometime, at dusk when the sun sinks low, / The flight of my arrow shall end. / Through the silent hush of the evening glow, / I shall slip away my friend. / But the silken tie of the wine and blue / Will bind through eternity / And friendship’s chain of golden hue / Will link eternally.
These words of Pi Beta Phi’s Memorial Hymn have been running through my head all weekend. I learned that a dear Pi Phi friend (and P.E.O. sister) passed away. She was a charter member of the Southern Illinois Alumnae Club and a 1950s initiate of the chapter at Kansas State University. When I spoke at her chapter’s Centennial in 2015, I volunteered to drive her there, but she was too ill to make the trek. I made sure to send her the 100-year history which the committee compiled. That made her very happy.
Last week I was with the Butler University Pi Phis as they celebrated 120 years. I had been in the chapter’s archives several years ago and I had a good collection of photos to show as I spoke. There were early pictures and those women are all gone. The pictures of the pledge classes of the 1940s and 1950s show young smiling faces in pencil skirts and sweaters. Those young women are now in their 80s and 90s. One woman, whose granddaughter was an active chapter member, started naming the women in a 1950-something picture. What a precious moment that was and I could tell some chapter members caught the subtle significance of this. She was once sitting where they sit today.
While Pi Phi performs a memorial service at each convention, to honor the women whose lives ended during the time between conventions, it does not have a special designation for those women no longer with us.
Chapter Eternal is the designation used by some organizations to signify departed members. These organizations include: Alpha Delta Phi; Alpha Tau Omega; Alpha Xi Delta; Chi Phi; Delta Phi Epsilon; Delta Tau Delta; Kappa Delta; Phi Kappa Psi; Phi Kappa Tau; Pi Kappa Alpha; Pi Kappa Phi; Pi Lambda Phi; Phi Mu; Phi Sigma Sigma; Sigma Alpha Epsilon; Sigma Alpha Mu; Sigma Chi; Sigma Nu; Sigma Phi Epsilon; Sigma Tau Gamma; Tau Kappa Epsilon; Theta Chi; and Theta Xi.
Ad Astra, “to the stars,” is used by Phi Gamma Delta to signify those members who have died. The complete quote is “Fratres qui fuerunt sed nunc ad astra,” meaning “Brothers who were, but are now with the stars.”
Chapter Celestial is the designation given to Kappa Sigma’s deceased members.
Omega Chapter is used by Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Sigma Phi, Chi Omega, Phi Beta Sigma, Omega Delta Phi, Omega Psi Phi, Sigma Lambda Beta, Sigma Lambda Gamma, and Sigma Sigma Sigma.