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Close Up of Pink Roses

History of Gamma Rho Omega Chapter

Image by Eugene Golovesov
Gamma Rho Omega Chapter was chartered in Jacksonville, Florida on June 23, 1942. Ten college-educated, enterprising, dedicated and civic-minded young women who had become members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® on college campuses were the charter members led by Edna Calhoun, who became the first president of the chapter. The other charter members were Daisy Brookins (Burns), Vivian Ellis (Ingram), Louise Gardner (Sheffield), Elizabeth Gordon (Jasmin), Aldonia Hill (Seabrook), Helen James (Taylor), Coatsie Jones, Lois Jones (Roberts) and Melba Brookins Sunday.

In the absence of the Southeastern Regional Director, Maude E. Brown, Poritia Trenholm officiated at the chartering ceremony assisted by Margaret Blake (Roach), who later became South Atlantic Regional Director, 1968-1970. Other sorority members in Jacksonville who attended the history making event were Thelma Harris, Mildred Kennedy (White) and Hattie McDonald McKissick.

Charter Members: – Daisy Brookins*, Mildred White*, Helen Taylor*, Melba Sunday*, Louise Sheffield*, Aldonia Seabrook*, Lois Roberts*, Edna Calhoun*, Thelma Harris*, Vivian Engram*, Elizabeth Jasmin*, Hattie McKissick, Coatsie Jones* (*Deceased)

Sometime during the summer of 1942, Thelma Harris, Mildred White and Hattie McKissick became active members of the chapter. In September 1942, four new sorors transferred into the chapter, they were Elizabeth Butler (Jones), Ruth Stanley (Wheaton) and Gwendolyn Schell from Beta Alpha Chapter at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College (FAMC), now Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida and Thelma Lash from Alpha Xi Chapter at Livingston College in Salisbury, North Carolina.

By the end of the year, the new chapter had a total of seventeen members. Nine of the charter members were initiated into the sorority in Beta Alpha Chapter (FAMC/FAMU), and one was initiated into Zeta Chapter at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. They were all educators and employed by the Duval County School System at various levels. Other members were added to the chapter roster through transfers from undergraduate chapters and by initiation of new members. In November 1943, Winona Britt transferred in from Beta Alpha Chapter, and in December 1944, Wildred Akery transferred in from Beta Alpha Chapter. Gamma Rho Omega held its first initiation in 1945, adding four new members: Ruth Broome, Gwendolyn Holland (Hunter), Thelma Hair Jones and Rebecca Martin (McKinney) increasing the chapter’s membership to twenty-six in three years.

Today, Gamma Rho Omega Chapter has grown to a membership of over four hundred. The Chapter also sponsors three undergraduate chapters in Jacksonville: University of North Florida (Mu Theta), Edward Waters University (Nu Iota), and Jacksonville University (Omicron Delta).

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