P.E.O. International Presidents AND Sorority Women

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.

Susan Sellers and Elizabeth Garrels, both Iowa Alphas (IWU) and past International Presidents of P.E.O., Fran Becque, and Sue Robinson, past Pi Beta Phi Grand Council member and a member of P.E.O.

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

Florence Tomlinson Meyers (Wallace), in 1930, when she was Grand President of Kappa Kappa Gamma. (Photo courtesy of Kappapedia.)

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