Gamma Tau Chapter was founded at North Dakota State University (formerly North Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts) in Fargo, North Dakota on May 3, 1929. The Chapter closed in 1985.
Delta Phi Beta, a local sorority, began in the winter of 1908. It had, says the 1911 Agassiz, a college publication, “a desperate struggle for existence … As hammering tempers steel and gives it strength and a clear ring, so petty persecution welded the sorority into a unit and made its members into a body of staunch friends who are loyal to one another; to help and protect, to encourage and aid others as true sisters in developing every noble and really womanly virtue.”
“They had,” added the Agassiz, “passwords, signs, and grips, also a signal of distress which may be given when they are short a carfare, a lesson, or a fellow. The rest is secret. The colors are black and white, the flower the white rose, which so beautifully represented the emblem of purity.”
On May 3, 1929, Delta Phi Beta became Gama Tau Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Nine Kappa alumnae living in Fargo called the attention of the Fraternity to the respected 23-year-old local, the oldest on the North Dakota State campus. Installation was decided upon. Fraternity President Georgia Hayden Lloyd-Jons, Wisconsin, and Fraternity Vice President Alice Tillotson Barney, Minnesota, were the installing officers, and members of Chi Minnesota came to Fargo for the installation. Dr. John Lee Coulter, president of the college, gave the ball which helped to celebrate the event.
Many alumnae members of Delta Phi Beta were initiated in two special initiations held in 1929 and 1930. In many cases, these were daughters of Dakota pioneers. That pioneering spirit, they felt, had helped them in the efforts in petitioning Kappa.
Included in this number were such women as Esther Calkins, whose great grandfather was Lord Brassington of Manchester, England, and whose father was one of the earliest automobile dealers in the state of North Dakota; Myrtle Adams, a direct descendent of John Quincy Adams; Louise Rusch Hale, daughter of Harry Rusch, outstanding pioneer, financier and legislator; Bertha Everhart Sterling, whose father established a Fargo candy business in the early days; and Iva McCracken Fillebroun, whose parents pioneered North Dakota’s religious development. The Reverend Mr. McCracken was superintendent of the Associated Charities and established the Glad Tidings Mission on Front Street.
Another daughter of pioneers was Hedvig Sand Leifson, whose parents came from Norway. Her father, a prominent surgeon, founded the Fargo Clinic, and her mother was a descendent of St. Olaf.
Outstanding in the list of loyal Kappa alumnae who helped so much in advancing the cause of Delta Phi Beta was Mary H. Darrow Weible, Wisconsin, who died March 4, 1965, five years after receiving the university’s Outstanding Achievement Award. She devoted a lifetime of service to the Fargo community and to the state. Weible Hall, on the Fargo campus, was named for her, and her portrait hangs in this building. Dean Alba Bales of the School for Home Economics, an honorary member of Delta Phi Beta, whose encouragement was appreciated by the aspiring chapter, later became manager of the Hearthstone, a clubhouse for alumnae “who sought congenial companions, security and pleasant surroundings,” in Winter Haven, Fla.
Gamma Tau history really begins with the name of Pearl Dinan, another Delta Phi Beta honorary member, dean of women at the then-North Dakota Agricultural College. For thirty years, she inspired not only Kappas, but all other women students, with the friendliness, fairness and dedication to her role. Pearl served as a member of the Fraternity Fellowship Committee and then as chairman of the Foreign Fellowship Committee. She was honored by the college and the people of North Dakota, when a women’s dormitory, Dinan Hall, was named for her. Because of Pearl, chapter archives were kept in excellent order. Her continued interest in Kappa was a source of inspiration to actives and alumnae.
Mathilda Thompson was the chapter’s most active member nationally. She was chairman of the graduate Scholarship Committee and, from 1941 to 1947, an Epsilon Province Director. In this capacity, she was responsible for installing alumnae associations in St. Paul and Rochester, Minn. She was an outstanding professor of mathematics who gave many a Fargo businessman the mathematic background necessary for success. After retirement as a teacher, “Til” became dean of women, and in 1969 a beautiful high rise dormitory was dedicated as Thompson Hall.
--Jean Mason Guy, North Dakota’s first lady between 1960 and 1972. A gracious hostess and ambassador for the state, she was a source of pride to all Kappas. --Delores Shanks Gunkelman, Fargo’s Woman of the Year, 1962. Her numerous community activities included the presidency of the state PTA. Three of her daughters are Gamma Tau Kappas, and she is unstinting in Kappa service. --Ruth Barrett Dunn, recipient of a North Dakota State Achievement Award in 1965. She designed hundreds of stained glass windows, was San Antonio’s 1957 local artist of the year, exhibited her paintings, and was a textile designer and designer of murals in public buildings in the southwest. --Florence Dinwoodie Bjornson, member of the West Fargo Board of Education and the Alumnae Board of North Dakota State University. --Mary Wiming Andrews, wife of North Dakota Congressman Mark Andrews and president of the 88th Congressional Wives.
Gamma Tau Chapter was first housed in one big room in the basement of the YWCA-YMCA building. From 1943-1955, a two-story duplex across from the library became home. In 1955, a beautiful red brick lodge was built. With future housing in mind, a lot was purchased in 1969, but because of escalating building costs it was decided to sell the property to the university and keep the lodge. Improvements to the kitchen and remodeling the back have given the chapter adequate dining and living space.
Gamma Tau Chapter was very active in every organization on campus, and each year found Kappas as queens, Who’s Who candidates, and members of Mortar Board and other honoraries. An annual event was a party entertaining children from the Opportunity School for the Handicapped. For its final 20 years, the outstanding style show of the community was presented by Gamma Tau. Proceeds provided an annual scholarship for a North Dakota State woman who exhibited high scholarship, leadership and need.
The zeal of the Kappa Alumnae Association at Fargo-Moorhead speaks well for the type of Kappas developed at North Dakota State University, a great university, world-renowned for plant breeding and paint chemistry, grown in size and prestige in the years since its beginning as a small prairie college.
The previous information was excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976. The information that follows has been gleaned from available resources including Chapter History Reports, chapter meeting minutes, letters and comments from chapter members and alumnae, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives, and The Key. Each chapter is expected to update its history record annually. Contact Fraternity Headquarters at [email protected] with questions.
Gamma Tau, North Dakota State, founded in 1929, closed 1985. Rush (Recruitment) numbers on the campus declined during an extended period which resulted in several groups leaving the campus. It was with deep regret the Fraternity Council accepted the surrender of Gamma Tau’s charter. The Council hoped “that the situation at North Dakota State University will change in the years ahead and make possible the reinstatement of the chapter at some future date.” Winter 1985 issue of The Key.