May 23, 2016
In 1966, Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States. The Beatles had three number one hits on the music charts. "The Sound of Music" won an Academy Award for Best Picture. A postage stamp cost 5 cents. At Mansfield University, the Iota Theta Chapter of Delta Zeta Sorority was chartered and remains strong 50 years later.
Susan Fellows Standefer, Charter President, said of the half-century reunion, “I am in awe that what we began 50 years ago is such a big part of the lives of so many woman.”
Over 200 sisters from five decades converged on the campus of Mansfield University to celebrate sisterhood. The enduring friendship were evident to everyone. The hugs, laughter, and smiles abounded, resonating throughout the campus. It was a time to rekindle old and make new friendships. The connection to those women who helped members through the transition from youth to adulthood, the bond that is immeasurable and unbreakable, was palpable that day. The sisterhood of Delta Zeta and all it means was present in every conversation.
Beth "Betty" Black, Class of 1978, said, “It was great to connect with everyone, especially those I haven’t seen in years. Time disappears, you are back in the space of college again, at a reunion such as this.”
The common purpose of Delta Zeta reigns: to make life fuller, more meaningful, more rewarding, and that was evident in the eclectic mix of many generations gathered for the 50th anniversary. The series of events planned by Patricia Doyle, Susan Fellows Standefer and Amanda Jarksi throughout the weekend provided the perfect environment to connect, reminisce and honor the Delta Zeta connection. The events included a President’s reception, display of Iota Theta through the ages, a silent auction for The Painted Turtle camp, a raffle for the Karen Jacobson Scholarship, the late College Chapter Director who served the chapter from 1970-2011, a re-creation of the charter members photo from 1966, and a ceremonial banquet.
Leigh Ann Penecale Reitze, Class of 1990, said, “This weekend was so incredible. Reconnecting with my sisters and laughing as we recalled all the funny stories just as if they happened yesterday was a wonderful way to rekindle the bonds of sisterhood.”
Key highlights were a Golden Rose ceremony for the 50-year members, including the Susan Fellows Standefer, founding President, and an update on Delta Zeta from Diane M. Stecher, National President.
Emilee Danielson-Burke, Class of 2001, said, “A summation of what Mansfield University and Iota Theta mean to me is that I found a home, family and myself through the Sorority. I became the best version of myself I could be. The relationship and friends are inspirational and I look forward to receiving the Golden Rose in 35 years.”
One common thread resonated throughout every conversation, every encounter and every moment was that, no matter the decade, the uniqueness and individuality of the sisters was what made the Iota Theta Chapter special. These are strong, compassionate and driven woman who embrace each other for the incredible woman they are. The environment of giving graciously was inspirational to all that proudly wore the Delta Zeta colors of pink and green.
The miles the members traveled to gather, the lives of trials and tribulations, and the loss of those no longer with them, were the catalyst to strengthening the bonds -- bonds that everyone thought were the strongest while the Iota Theta members were pursing education together, but which were even stronger over time and life -- truly a lifetime of sisterhood.
"For me," said Cynthia Pritchard, Class of 1985 and Webmaster for the Shenandoah/Central Virginia Alumnae Chapter, "I was reminded that in a world that provides life challenges which you are often trying to navigate, gathering with my Delta Zeta Iota Theta sisters, who are part of my past, and those that are now part of my future, provides a place of kindness and love. As we sang songs, told stories and danced freely, we could truly be ourselves as we were among sisters and friends. The light of the