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Sisterhood and service see sorority through 75 years

April 26, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Local members of Beta Sigma Phi say their international women's organization has celebrated sisterhood for decades.

Walter W. Ross established Beta Sigma Phi in Kansas City, Mo., during the Great Depression to provide a social, cultural and intellectual outlet for women who were unable to attend college. Today, Beta Sigma Phi chapters span the globe with members - many of whom are college graduates - promoting a sisterhood of friendship and service.

Monday evening, April 24, area chapters of Beta Sigma Phi and their governing board celebrated the group's 75th anniversary with a Founder's Day banquet at Red Horse Steak House on Dual Highway.

Suzie Gozora, board president, led the group in its opening ritual.

"We pledge ourselves anew to the aims and purposes of our glorious sisterhood ... a determination to give the best that is in us to our sorority and to assist in every and any way," the group recited.

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Gozora, 55, of Clear Spring, said she joined Beta Sigma Phi as a young mother looking to do something for the community. Thirty years later, she still meets twice a month with the same group.

"We like to do whatever we can, whether it's raising funds or just helping someone out. It's such a good feeling doing for people. Plus, a woman likes a night out," Gozora said.

Ruth Foltz, 89, of Hagers-town, will celebrate her 62nd anniversary as a Beta Sigma Phi member in May.

"I remember seeing members older than me, and I would think, 'I can't imagine being in a sorority that long!'" Foltz said. "Now here I am. All in all, I've really enjoyed the years I've been in."

Foltz reminisced about the 1940s, when "the girls" visited wounded soldiers at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg W.Va. She spoke fondly of the days when the women wore formal gowns, gloves and hats to dances at the Alexander Hotel and at Camp Ritchie - today's sites of the Washington County Commission on Aging and Fort Ritchie. Foltz said, while she has witnessed many changes over the years, the friendships among sorority members have remained steadfast.

"That's why we're called sisters," she said. "We have a strong bond with one another because we've been together for so many years."

Jean Hough of Hagers-town said she joined Beta Sigma Phi in 1968.

"We keep going because of service and sisterhood," Hough said. "We are so close it's like family."

Alice Grimes, a member of the governing board, said local Beta Sigma Phi chapters perform fundraising and have made donations to CASA Inc., W House of Hagerstown Foundation Inc., Breast Cancer Awareness of Cumberland Valley and more. Grimes, 63, of Clear Spring, said the group also has provided food and gifts to area families who need assistance during the holidays.

Women interested in joining Beta Sigma Phi can call 301-842-2575 for more information.

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