By Kathy Bowen Conover Taylor Lindquist (Alpha Chi, Butler University)
My story begins after a day on campus at Purdue University. I cried all the way back to Indianapolis. Finally my dad said, “What’s the matter?” I sobbed, “I hated the huge campus, didn’t think I’d fit in with the 9 to 1 ratio of men to women, was too far from home and would probably come home miserable after the first semester.”
“What do you want to do? You have a scholarship to go there,” he said. I cheered up as I stated, “I want to go to Butler with my friends. I can live at home, commute to classes and work part time. Besides, Dad, it’s your dream that I attend Purdue, not mine.”
So that fall I participated in rush or recruitment as we call it now at Butler University. As I walked around the lovely Alpha Chi Omega house, I saw someone familiar, a neighbor, pouring punch. “Mrs. Foust, what are you doing here?” I asked. She explained that she was an Alpha Chi alumna, there to help out. That night I dreamed of Alpha Chi, a piece of Dream Cake under my pillow. And sure enough as luck would have it, I became an Alpha Chi. Thinking back, that may have been one of the best things to happen to me.
Things went smoothly. I was initiated into the Alpha Chi chapter, attended classes, got a part-time secretarial job and lived at home. That 4th of July, my world collapsed as my mother passed away. Being an only child, it fell on me to take care of everything as my father was heartbroken. I went to the Alpha Chi house intending to tell my sisters it was over – I’d lost my mother, my religion and I couldn’t go on. I remember Nancy Nichman Leonard, who became one of our beloved national secretaries, sitting on the front steps explaining how much I meant to the chapter as I was very involved with the coming rush activities, that I couldn’t drop out of school, and that my mom would always watch over me. Alpha Chi and Nancy took me under their wings, as did the president of the chapter, Judy Horst. And through her I met Judy’s wonderful aunt, Josette Horst, also an initiate of the Alpha Chi chapter!
Well I did graduate, married with an alcohol-free reception in the Butler Alpha Chi chapter house and started teaching mathematics. We moved soon to California. The first event I attended was an Alpha Chi Omega luncheon at the San Francisco Officer’s Club, where I met Medora Deason and Jo Hurley. They made me feel welcome to California, and as I left lunch, I was made an officer for the Alpha Beta Alpha alumnae chapter. I eventually moved to Dallas due to my husband’s transfer there. Of course I looked up the Alpha Chi Omega alumnae chapter and who did meet at my first meeting but Adele Drew, a Past National President. What a genuine, down-to-earth lady she was!
Returning from Texas to California, I turned to Alpha Chi. I became involved as province alumnae chair for California and Nevada. I met an incredibly talented pianist, Avanelle Poehler, and together we made a tape of Pi chapter singing Alpha Chi Omega songs. I was fortunate to become national Ritual director and national convention songleader and compiled an Alpha Chi Omega Songbook with help from many, to be placed on every chapter house piano. Humm, I wonder if they’re still around anywhere?
When my father became ill and I went back and forth between California and Florida, another Alpha Chi Omega came to my rescue. National President Rosemary Hittle let me sleep in her guest room and cook and bake with her for my dad and stepmom.
Life went on and I went to England on a Fulbright Teaching Exchange without my first husband. When I returned 8 years later as I’d been out of the country too long, I couldn’t get a car loan, let alone insurance, couldn’t even get furniture from Sears. I had zero credit. Re-enter Josette Horst, now remarried as Josette Gavin. She took care of me, helped me get back on my feet spiritually and financially, let me I live with her for 6 months and became like my second mom. And remember Josette’s niece, Judy, the Alpha Chi chapter president? I’d stayed in touch with her over the years. She fixed me up with a very dear man, an avid tennis player and outstanding cyclist.
Fast forward 32 years later. That dear sweet man became my husband on October 20, 2020. I thank Alpha Chi and my lucky stars and all my Alpha Chi sisters throughout the years for the wonderful life I’ve had and pray to continue. I remain an Alpha Chi forever.