Panhellenic marks 50 years of community involvement

Panhellenic officers stop for a photo during 50th anniversary celebration. They are, from left, Secretary Marjo Richmond, Treasurer Michelle Richardson, President Laurie Vaughn, First Vice President Kim Barker, Third Vice President Kay Lee Benoit and Barbara Dickey, corporation.

Panhellenic officers stop for a photo during 50th anniversary celebration. They are, from left, Secretary Marjo Richmond, Treasurer Michelle Richardson, President Laurie Vaughn, First Vice President Kim Barker, Third Vice President Kay Lee Benoit and Barbara Dickey, corporation.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Clear Lake Area Panhellenic is a half century old this year and some 75 members gathered in South Shore Harbour Resort’s Harborview Room March 23 to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Besides the sorority organization’s 2013-14 officers, the crowd at the reception included a host of past presidents and long time members, plus two charter members – Ann Fulcher and Karlee Marcom.

Chairman Judy Raiford introduced all the past presidents, most of whom are active today. Over the years, their popular fall fashion show luncheon and other benefits have raised more than $450,000 for its Crawford-Zbanek Foundation to send area students to college.

Clear Lake Area Alumnae Panhellenic began in 1964 when Pat Mann, a Pi Beta Phi alumna, and her Nassau Bay neighbor, Kappa Alpha Theta Carol Snipes, talked about continuing the fellowship they had enjoyed in their college sorority activities. Six Nassau Bay residents formed the organization, which initially represented four sororities. The following year the number of members grew to 24, representing 13 sororities, and the organization was officially chartered as a part of the National Panhellenic Conference, according to a year-by-year history compiled by Lyla Nettles, who tells of life back then.

“In the spring of 1965, Clear Lake Panhellenic began a bridge benefit at the Clear Lake City Recreation Center. Tickets were $1 each. Cake and coffee were served to approximately 140 ladies, and each member was responsible for bringing at least one homemade cake, possibly two.  Celia Zbanek, one of the people for whom our benefit is named, was instrumental in this event. The total profit for the day was $234.

Four early members of Clear Lake Area Panhellenic, Claudia Parr, Karlee Marcom, Ann Fulcher and Linda Wolpert, from left, reminisce about those long-ago days during 50th anniversary party.

Four early members of Clear Lake Area Panhellenic, Claudia Parr, Karlee Marcom, Ann Fulcher and Linda Wolpert, from left, reminisce about those long-ago days during 50th anniversary party.

“From 1965-68, Panhellenic held both a style show in the fall and a bridge benefit in the spring. The group’s first scholarship style show in the fall of 1966 was at the Clear Lake City Country Club with Battlestein’s of River Oaks providing the fashions. Proceeds were $281.  During that year members were voluntary library workers at the Freeman Memorial Library, serving refreshments to children during the story hour.  They also donated $76 to a boys’ home. The following April the group held its second dessert and bridge benefit… and profits of $255 were donated to Freeman Library.”

Reba Crawford, the second person for whom the foundation is named, was chairman of the Philanthropic Committee in 1967-68. The scholarship luncheon and style show was held at the Houston Yacht Club with the new Foley’s at Almeda-Genoa introducing styles and accessories to this area.

Past presidents attending included Kelli Baliker, Judy Raiford, Jennie Hampton, Diane Overman, Ann Gay, Ruth Beecher, Sue Ellen Jennings, Lyla Nettles, Dana Brown, Peggy Clause, Judie Ferguson, Hazel Harron, Ginny Progelhof, Pat McAllister, Claudia Parr, Barbara Dickey, Mary Patterson, Linda Wolpert and Ann Brady – most of whom are still active members to day.

Anniversary Celebration Committee members included Sue Broughton, Debby Reichert, Kay Lee Benoit, Jo Nell Hunter, Priscilla Ennis, Wendy Peters, Joy Smitherman, Evelyn Woodruff and several past presidents.

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