A very special initiation happened this summer at the Pi Beta Phi convention. On June 25, 2017, Susan Reese Sellers, a past International President of P.E.O. (2011-13), was one of a group of honorary alumnae initiates of Pi Beta Phi.
The early years of Pi Beta Phi and P.E.O. are intertwined. Pi Beta Phi’s second chapter was established at Iowa Wesleyan University on December 21, 1868. A month later, January 21, 1869, P.E.O. was founded at IWU by seven young women. Early Iowa Wesleyan women wore the arrow or the star, but never both.
Elizabeth Davenport Garrels, who served as P.E.O.’s International President from 2009-11, is a graduate of Iowa Wesleyan University and was initiated as a member of the Pi Beta Phi chapter there. She owns an arrow and a star. Two additional P.E.O. International Presidents have been members of both P.E.O. and Pi Beta Phi. They are Laura Storms Knapp (1949-51), a member of the Iowa State University chapter, and Jane Burtis Smith (1999-2001), a member of the University of Oklahoma chapter.
I discovered that there are several other P.E.O. International Presidents who have been members of National Panhellenic Conference organizations, too. If my detective skills are rusty and I’ve forgotten anyone, please let me know.
Laura Storms Knapp, 1949-51, Pi Beta Phi
Nell Farrell Stevenson, 1955-57, Kappa Delta
Margaret Emily Stoner, 1959-61, Kappa Alpha Theta
Irene S. Van Brunt, 1963-65, Kappa Kappa Gamma
Amy Olmstead Welch, 1965-67, Alpha Gamma Delta
Florence Tomlinson Meyers Wallace, 1973-75, Kappa Kappa Gamma (She served as Kappa’s Grand President in 1930, too!)
Lucille H. Smith, 1983-85, Alpha Gamma Delta
Mary Louise Remy, 1989-91, Gamma Phi Beta
Nancy Ryan Jerdee, 1991-93, Gamma Phi Beta
Jean C. Boswell, 1993-95, Chi Omega
Jane Burtis Smith, 1999-2001, Pi Beta Phi
Elizabeth Davenport Garrels, 2009-11, Pi Beta Phi
Susan Reese Sellers, 2011-13, Pi Beta Phi
Maria Baseggio, 2013-15, Sigma Sigma Sigma
Sue Baker, 2015-17, Kappa Kappa Gamma