Alice Tillotson Barney
Alice Tillotson Barney, Chi Chapter, Minnesota (1886-1933)
Alice Tillotson Barney is the only President to have died in office, a fact that overshadows the bright career of a handsome, quietly dedicated, charming Kappa, who forcefully filled the unexpired term of her predecessor and guided Kappa during a time of great difficulty – The Depression (from 1930-1933).
“Till,” as she was called, came to the office with a great deal of experience. She had been a Chi Chapter House Board member in 1912, Treasurer of the House Corporation from 1920, loyal member of the Minnesota Alumnae Association and correspondent to The Key up to the 1928 Convention in her home state. She was Vice President of Epsilon Province in 1925 and Province President in 1927. Chairman of the Social Committee, she was elected Grand Vice President in 1928 and reelected at the Convention of 1930. Three months later, she was sworn in as Grand President.
It was an exciting time in the history of the Fraternity: Headquarters had been moved to Columbus from St. Louis and retiring Executive Secretary Della Lawrence Burt had been replaced by Clara O. Pierce, Beta Nu, Ohio State, who would devote the rest of her life to that role.
At the end of her first term, Alice Praised Clara’s vigilance in helping the Fraternity deal with the difficulties of the times. Fraternities were still under criticism, and Alice said “the time has come for us...to take heed. If we can maintain our usefulness and prove definitely…that we are essential to our communities, we will have established our right to exist….” The following term was no easier, with banks closed and Province Conventions cancelled.
Yet, during Alice’s term, the History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1930, had been printed and eight new chapters were installed, all but two by Alice, Delta Alpha – Penn State, Delta Beta – Duke, Delta Gamma – Michigan State, Delta Delta – McGill, Delta Epsilon –Rollins, Delta Zeta – Colorado College, Delta Eta – Utah, Delta Theta – Goucher “I am truly thankful we have come out of (the year) so well and only hope that next year will be better for us and the country at large,” she wrote. “This year has been a strenuous one, and I hope there will never be another exactly like it.”
After the installation of Delta Theta at Goucher in September 1933, Alice went to visit a Chi friend in Connecticut. She suffered an acute heart attack and died October 3 at the age of 47. The Fraternity later endowed a bed at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Alice Tillotson Barney’s memory.