TROY - In January 1966, a group of women helped change the course of Troy University history.
This January, that same group of women gathered once again in Troy to celebrate 50 years of their creation: TROY's branch of Kappa Delta, one of the university's original sororities.
Delta Delta, the University's KD branch, hosted its 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Jan. 16 and included members of the original class, which pledged in 1965 and was initiated in 1966.
Those women had been trying to form a sorority as early as 1964, even forming a local sorority.
"In 1963 or '64, they let fraternities come to campus, so as seniors the next year, it just would not do until we had sororities on campus," said Patricia Gilmore Bonner, who actually graduated in November 1965 and had to return to campus to be initiated in January 1966. "A group of us went to Mrs. (Ann) Harmon, who was the dean of women, and we petitioned her that we be allowed to begin sororities."
According to founding members, bringing Kappa Delta to TROY was the brainchild of Hamil Hall den mother Mary Preer.
"She had been a Kappa Delta at Auburn, and her daughter was a Kappa Delta at Auburn, so she sort of told us everything that Kappa Delta did and had to offer as far as their philanthropy work," said Shirley Graham Paramore, who was a TROY senior at the time. "She told us some of the great times that she had as a Kappa Delta and what KD would be able to offer us. And she felt that we could be a benefit to KD as a national organization too."
With no existing group in place on campus, women like Paramore and Bonner had to do the work to build the foundation of Delta Delta.
"Those of us who were organizing at that time had never been through rush. We had no idea what it was like to even go through rush. We had to learn how to do that," Paramore said. "I don't know what brought us all together except that we all had a love for not only being a social group, but more importantly in the philanthropy work that Kappa Delta could allow each of us to participate in."
As a result of that work, and the fact that several members had already graduated when they were initiated, the founders didn’t have the same experience most sorority sisters have gotten to enjoy over the years.
"We missed a lot of the fun things, the rushes and the pledging and all of that, but it's still been a wonderful experience," Bonner said.
The sacrifices paid off, and today Kappa Delta's TROY membership has grown to 188.
"We had a vision. We wanted that vision to be carried on," said founder Virginia Riggs Ransom. "The challenges that they have today are different than the challenges that we had. Ours was to get it started, and now theirs is to keep it going."
The Kappa Delta event was part of a yearlong celebration of 50 years of Greek life at TROY.
As they walked around the Kappa Delta house for the reunion, the founders were approached by several later and current sisters who expressed their gratitude.
"It makes us so proud to see this and then to have younger people come up to us and say, 'Thank you for what you did. We wouldn't be here if you didn't have that dream, that vision,'" Ransom said.
Current KD Vice President of Member Education Marley Galvan said she was honored to meet founding members of Delta Delta.
"I can't imagine where I would be without Kappa Delta," Galvan said. "It's truly formed me into the person that I want to be, but it wouldn't be possible if those women hadn’t decided that they were really going to give it their all and try to become a Kappa Delta. It's changed thousands of lives in Troy, and the women that founded it here in 1966, they opened so many doors for women on TROY’s campus."
The anniversary celebration sparked memories, and hopes for the future, among the founders.
"It means more to us when we come back for a weekend like this and we see how it's grown," Paramore said. "I say to this day, I hope at some point that I can come back for a first-degree pledging, a second-degree pledging and an initiation, because over 50 years you forget what that’s like. It has been a tremendous asset to this University, and I’m be proud to call every one of them my sister."