Our Chapter’s History

Our Roots

Our chapter’s Colorado roots go back to the late 1920s when an alumnae/patroness group was organized and held activities to support the Sigma Upsilon Chapter, installed at the Lamont School of Music on September 30, 1926. That very active group, numbering about 70 members, even planned and implemented the first Denver National Convention, held at the Brown Palace Hotel August 25–28, 1935. Marjorie Gallaher was chairman. Delegates from seven Provinces and National Officers attended.

Chapter Installation

Denver Alumnae Chapter was officially installed on March 22, 1940, at the home of Marjorie Gallaher, with National President Gertrude Evans presenting the Charter to the new chapter President, Claire Connell Martin. Thirty members were affiliated and a tea followed the ceremonies. Other chapter officers were:

  • Vice President, Jewel Keating Cowan
  • Secretary, Rowena Scott Izett
  • Treasurer, Kathryne Accola Pitts
  • Chaplain, Louise Holt Beck
  • Editor, Elizabeth Pierce Bloye

Province Inclusion History

The Denver Alumnae Chapter has been a member of the following SAI provinces:

  • Theta Province, 1940–1947
  • Delta Province, 1947–1953
  • Theta Province, 1953–1959
  • Xi Province, 1959–1963
  • Omicron Province, 1963–1984
  • Xi Province, 1984–1990
  • Xi A Province, 1990–2003
  • Xi C Province, 2003–present

50th Anniversary

On March 10, 1990, the chapter held its 50th Anniversary celebration at the home of Ardice Garrels. Following an SAI Sing-along, chapter members presented a musicale closely duplicating one performed by the chapter on March 17, 1940. Nine past presidents were in attendance.

The 1997 National Convention

The Denver Alumnae Chapter hosted the 1997 National Convention, “A Celebration of Membership”, at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, July 31–August 4. Delorus Netzel and Ardice Garrels served as Co-Chairs of the convention, with 640 members in attendance. Two notable events were the SAI Philanthropies Benefit Concert featuring pianist David Allen Wehr, and the recognition of Lela Putney—initiated in 1929—as an outstanding member of our fraternity.

60th Anniversary

On March 21, 2000, the chapter held its 60th Anniversary celebration at the home of Donita Banks. The musicale for the evening was a 315th birthday salute to J. S. Bach, with piano duets—arranged from his instrumental works—performed by Betty Fass and Rita Jo Tensly. Donita, as Madam Hartman, introduced the program and read amusing anecdotes about Bach’s life between the selections.

Jeannine Shafer-Flint provided a cake decorated with Bach’s face and the SAI crest. A special printed program and SAI Sing-along rounded out the evening’s highlights. Nine past presidents were in attendance.

70th Anniversary

Starting with the Fall 2008 issue of Staff Signals, and continuing for the next five issues, Donita Banks wrote a decade-by-decade history of Denver Alumnae Chapter with photos and other illustrations to accompany each article. Our newsletters featured headers from newsletters through the years and our yearbook highlighted our 70th year on the cover and throughout the publication. A display board of photos and mementos from the last seventy plus years was on display at every SAI event during the year and our chapter scrapbooks were made available for perusal by members.

The September 15 meeting featured a program of SAI songs and skits by Donita Banks, Linda Rolfe, and Rita Jo Tensly entitled, Seventy Years of Sisterhood. The May meeting re-created some musical performances from past years. The culminating event for this celebration was a dinner in March 2010.

75th Anniversary

In March, 2015, we celebrated our 75th anniversary on two occasions. The first, our regular meeting on the 15th at the home of Donita Banks, featured a musicale by Danielle Snyder, The Feminist Piano. Hostess Donita and co-hostess Linda Rolf prepared red and white refreshments and table décor, displayed colorful balloons and chapter memorabilia, and created a commemorative bookmark for each chapter member.

We sang SAI a Mile High, written for our 70th Anniversary by Donita Banks and JoAnne Khyl, and Linda led the chapter in the Anniversary Ritual and presented a rose to nine past presidents and current President Kristin Rousom. On March 22nd, members gathered for an informal dinner and recognition of the 75th Anniversary at the Bistro at Aspen Grove in Littleton.

Support of College Chapters

We began awarding scholarships to our local college chapter members in the 1960s:

  • Alpha Phi Chapter, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1960s–2001
  • Epsilon Sigma Chapter, Temple Buell College (1970-1973), Colorado Women’s College (1973–1981)
  • Eta Kappa Chapter, CU Denver and Metropolitan State College, 1985–2004.

For many years we made a donation toward Life Membership in SAI to graduating seniors from Alpha Phi and Eta Kappa Chapters. We have also participated in several college chapter anniversary celebrations, in many initiation ceremonies and numerous other special events.

Just as the alumnae/patroness group—which became Denver Alumnae Chapter—supported the original Sigma Upsilon Chapter (installed September 30, 1926–inactive 1954), so our chapter has been involved in the process of the re-installation/initiation of Sigma Upsilon Chapter at Lamont School of Music, University of Denver (May 30, 2009), and will continue our support and build our association with the members of this chapter.

Since 2009, our chapter has supported Sigma Upsilon Chapter at DU in many ways: by serving as Alumnae Advisors, by attending recitals and other events, by participating in initiation ceremonies, by presenting gift bags to graduating seniors and by awarding scholarships each year.

Service Projects

  • Monthly radio programs, 1950s
  • Braille Music Transcription Program, 1960s
  • Programs for Florence Crittendon Home and nursing homes, 1960s
  • Bold Note Transcription Program, 1980s
  • String Project, 1994–1995
  • Havern Project, chapter members taught music classes, 1999-2002, piano tuning, programs, 2000s
  • Instrument and LP record donations to local organizations; community programs by SAI Singers and many other members; procuring ritual equipment for Sigma Upsilon Chapter, 2007–2009
  • Birthday parties for older members, 2007–2008.
  • Since 2009 our chapter has donated clothing to a women’s safe house; presented programs at retirement center, contributed to care packages for our troops; worked with beginning band students at Meadow Point Elementary School; and in January, 2014, sponsored a concert to benefit Mending Faces, a local organization.

Philanthropy

Contributions to:

  • SAI Philanthropies, Inc.
  • SAI Region I Scholarship Fund
  • SAI Century Fund
  • Central City Opera House Association
  • Colorado Symphony Orchestra

Fundraising

  • Holiday Boutiques
  • Phlea-Phlams at National Conventions
  • Go for Baroque Garage Sales
  • Sales at State/Province Days
  • Make It, Bake It, Sew It, Grow It Sales
  • Recipe Book—Recipes of Note (Updated 2016)
  • Pan’s Pennies from Heaven
  • Pan’s Piggies—donations for scholarships, local service projects and Philanthropies
  • Holiday greeting card to national officers
  • Non-event fundraiser, 2011
  • SAI Calendar fundraiser, 2012
  • Swing Into Spring—social/dance/silent auction fundraiser to benefit Sigma Upsilon Scholarship, March 2016.

Central City Opera

SAI Day at the CCO has been a tradition for our chapter since fifteen SAIs enjoyed a performance of La Traviata and a reception at the Johnson House to honor John Moriarty in 1983. Member Donna Ellison hatched the idea of our chapter attending as a group after reading in the newspaper of John’s recent appointment as Artistic Director of CCO and his recent initiation as a National Arts Associate. Dorothy Nelson agreed to chair that event, and continues that job today.

Receptions were held at the Johnson House until 1991 and at the McFarlane House through 2007, with John in attendance most of those years. Annual gifts to him included rose bushes for his garden at the Pink House, his renovated 1871 Victorian above the Teller House, an engraved plaque in 2002, our 20th year, and a framed certificate in 2007, our 25th year. Each year, we attended a matinee performance at the 1878 opera house of whichever production John was conducting. He retired in 2006 but continues his role as conductor and administrator of the Artists Training Program, founded in 1978.

In 2002 Donita Banks put together a booklet of photos from the first 20 years and in 2007 updated it and wrote the history of this popular event, Twenty-five Years of Magic at the Central City Opera, and created a special memento for each attendee. In 2012, we celebrated our 30th Central City Opera Day with a luncheon at the Teller House before the performance. It included presentation of a plaque to John Moriarty, who retired after 34 years with the Central City Opera Association. Donita Banks also updated the opera booklet that year.

Special Events

  • Founders Day/Incorporation Day Banquets and Luncheons, 1940s–present
  • Victory Concert, 1944
  • Joint tea with Mu Phi Epsilon and Delta Omicron, 1952
  • Patroness Teas, 1960s
  • State/Province Days; events honoring National and Province Officers
  • Composers’ Symposium, 1965
  • Member Dorothy Retallack speaking about her experiments with music & plants, 1972
  • Brown Palace luncheon during the MTNA Convention, 1975
  • SAI Day at the Central City Opera, 1983–present
  • Initiation of SAI Janice Hall (Epsilon Sigma initiate) as a Member Laureate in Central City, 1990
  • Denver Trio—Ann Hutchins, Delorus Netzel and Jane Wyss—performed at the SAI National Convention in Minneapolis, 1990
  • Panhellenic Musicales with Delta Omicron (and a few years with Mu Phi Epsilon), 1990–present
  • Invitation by chapter quartet to the 1997 Denver National Convention at the Cincinnati National Convention, 1993
  • Roses-in-Winter Dinners, 1995–present
  • Visit to the Abbey of St. Walburga, Benedictine Nuns, Virginia Dale, Colorado, 2000
  • Boulder Chapter Reinstatement/Installation, 2001
  • Kiwi Kapers, Maori Songs from New Zealand, Donna Chase and the SAI Singers, 2001
  • SAI Singers, programs of international songs, patriotic songs and songs from Quilters with quilt display, 6 performances, submitted audition CD to perform at the 2003 National Convention, 2002
  • 20th year at the Central City Opera, 2002
  • XI A Province Day, “Strike a Centennial Chord”, Denver, 2003
  • National Centennial Convention, Ready for Tomorrow, Dearborn, Michigan, 2003, attended by 14 Colorado SAIs
  • Presentation of 75-year membership certificate to member Lela Putney, age 100, 2004
  • 25th year at the Central City Opera, 2007
  • Support of the DU Colony, 2006–2009
  • Participation in the Initiation/Reinstatement of Sigma Upsilon Chapter at DU, 2009

Benefit Concerts

  • The Play of Daniel, 1971
  • Chapter Members and Local Guest Performers including The Sounds of Children, Mary Ward, director; the ALRY Flute Choir, Amy Rice Young, director; and the Whitechapel Handbell Choir, Lakewood United Methodist Church, Millicent Pletcher, director, 1960s–1970s
  • David Allen Wehr, pianist, 1987 and 1992
  • John Kuzma, organist, 1990
  • Colorado Children’s Chorale, Duain Wolfe, conductor, 1991
  • Ariel Trio, Tamara Mullikin, David Mullikin, Susan Cable, 1993
  • Julie Simson, mezzo-soprano, Therese Stewart, pianist, 1994
  • A Russian Musical Feast, Beverly Fernald, soprano, Alla Renjina, pianist, 1995
  • Lori Sims, pianist, 1999
  • Francis (Frank) Conlon, pianist, 2001
  • Mending Faces Not Everyone Can Whistle Benefit Concert, 2014
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