Louise Little Barbeck
Louise Little Barbeck, Gamma Phi, Southern Methodist (1914 - 2010)
When Louise Little Barbeck became President (1968-1972), she was faced almost immediately with the reorganization of Fraternity Headquarters when Clara O. Pierce, Beta Nu, Ohio State, resigned January 1, 1969, after 40 years as Executive Secretary and only months before her death.
Campus unrest continued unabated, as did challenges to the membership selection process. Campus rules and regulations were under attack, and Kappa collegians were asking to have the same alcohol and visitation privileges found in some college dormitories, Psi, Cornell and Gamma Lambda, Middlebury were closed.
Lou Barbeck once described her first two years as “busy, exciting, challenging, demanding, heartbreaking.” But the Centennial Convention of 1970 balanced the trauma of the ‘60s. Although it was shadowed by the shock of Clara Pierce’s death, the program was superb, much of it planned by Clara.
Actor Robert Young was given a citation; Dr. Howard A. Rusk, Founder and Director of the Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, received a generous contribution from Kappa; President Richard Nixon wrote a letter of congratulation. A statement of obedience to local, state/provincial and federal laws was approved; revisions to the Fraternity Bylaws were adopted; the reference system was reviewed; action was taken to develop the Resource Department at Headquarters. To top it off, it was announced that the Centennial Fund had reached its goal of $500,000.
“If we associate with moral delinquents, we have a good chance of being placed in that category,” Lou said at that Convention. “…The Fraternity stands firm in its principles and is determined to preserve them for posterity.”
A year later, the National Rehabilitation Association Organizational Award was given to Kappa, recognizing the Fraternity’s continued exemplary work and philanthropy in rehabilitation services; Lou traveled to Chicago to accept it.
Lou began her more than two decades of Fraternity service when she attended the 1948 Convention as Dallas Alumnae Association delegate and President.
A mother and grandmother, Lou involved herself with several health-related community service projects in addition to her work with Dallas alumnae. She was House Board President for Gamma Phi and then served the Fraternity as Theta Province Director of Chapters 1955, Chairman of Chapter Programs in 1956, Director of Chapters in 1958, Director of Membership in 1962, Vice President in 1964 and President in 1968. She also represented Kappa at meetings of the National Association of Women Deans and Councilors.
After her presidency, she served Kappa as parliamentarian for the 1976 Convention.
During her term as Director of Chapters, Kappa officers had gathered in Winter Park, Florida., to talk about a third chapter in that state. Lou was scheduled to go to Gainesville, but when enthusiastic alumnae in Tallahassee convinced her to come instead to Florida State, Lou changed her flight plans. The plane she had originally intended to take crashed in the Gulf and all on board were killed. Lou’s visitation in Tallahassee was an unqualified success, and Epsilon Zeta was installed December 9, 1961. Fate had played a blessed role for Lou.