Kay Smith Larson
Kay Smith Larson BΠ - Washington (1932- )
Kay Smith Larson was elected President (1988 – 1992) as the Fraternity began to look ahead to a new decade and millennium. Her lasting legacy to the Fraternity will be the incorporation in 1989 of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation that was created by merging the Fraternity’s Educational Endowment Fund, the Rose McGill Fund and the Founders’ Memorial Fund for Students’ Aid into one tax-exempt entity with its own board of trustees. These mergers would ensure a bright future for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation and the Fraternity. In 1990, the Heritage Museum of Kappa Kappa Gamma merged with the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, resulting in all philanthropic efforts being within one entity.
Kay oversaw the completion of the work of the first Long-range Planning Committee, which began in the previous administration. The final recommendations from the committee were acted upon by her administrations.
Six geographical regions were added to the Fraternity structure, existing provinces were assigned to a region and a Regional Council was added consisting of six Regional Directors of Chapters. These Regional Officers would supervise and assist the Province Officers with their responsibilities and support the Directors of Alumnae and Chapters in their work.
At the recommendation of the Long-range Planning Committee, the Director of Field Representatives position became a standing committee chairmanship and the Director of Philanthropies position became Chairman of the Financial Assistance Committee in the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation.
A comprehensive cross-section of the Fraternity was surveyed, which resulted in a new focus for The Key, accomplished by its new Editor, Cynthia McMillan Lanford, ΓΠ – Alabama. The Standing Committee position of Publications Chairman, which had been vacant for more than 10 years, was filled with the appointment of Gay Chuba Barry, ΔΑ – Penn State, in 1988. A complete revision and new look were given to The Kappa Notebook, which served as the definitive education publication for new members (formerly pledges), actives and alumnae alike. Work began on The Kappa Leadership Guide for association and chapter officers.
During Kay’s administrations, The Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation of Canada was established according to Canadian laws to meet the philanthropic needs of Canadian members. A newsletter, All in Our Family, was created to keep all Fraternity volunteers, donors and former Fraternity Officers up-to-date with Fraternity news.
An innovative, cooperative effort was entered into by Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Tau Omega sponsoring “Lead to Succeed,” an acclaimed leadership development seminar for undergraduates. This marked the first time a women’s and men’s fraternity had combined program efforts. The Fraternity’s “Kappa Kinetics” for undergraduates and alumnae evolved from this program.
Fraternity growth continued with the installation of four chapters: Zeta Sigma – North Texas, Zeta Tau – Washington and Lee, Zeta Phi – Princeton and Omicron Deuteron – Simpson, re-installed 100 years to the date when the original chapter had closed on campus.
Kay graduated cum laude from the University of Washington. An elementary education major, she served as assistant Scholarship Chairman and Vice President (now Vice President – Standards) for Beta Pi. As an alumna, she was President of the Lake Washington Alumnae Association and adviser to Beta Pi Chapter.
From 1967-1970, Kay served as Iota Province Director of Chapters. She was elected to the Fraternity Council in 1970 and served as Director of Membership (1970-1974), Director of Field Representatives (1974-1976) and Director of Chapters (1976-1978). She left the Fraternity Council in 1978 to take a position in fundraising for the University of Washington athletic department but accepted the appointment as Housing Chairman in 1980. She was elected Fraternity Vice President (1984-1986) and then Director of Personnel (1986-1988).
After her presidency, Kay served the Fraternity as Bylaws Chairman and as Fraternity liaison to the Minnie Stewart Foundation. She was appointed Sesquicentennial Chairman in 2012 after which she and her committee began making plans for the celebration which will culminate in 2020.
Kay was married to Durmont A. Larson until he passed away in 2008 and is mother to son Jeffrey.
“Our membership clearly can be compared to a garden, in which each individual flower adds to its splendor,” Kay said. Kay Smith Larson is one of those flowers.