Lydia Voris Kolbe

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Lydia Voris Kolbe, President 1916-1920

Lydia Voris Kolbe, Lambda Chapter, Akron (1880-1972)

No one family put in more hours of service to Kappa Kappa Gamma than the mother, aunts and sisters of Kappa’s 15th Grand President, Lydia Voris Kolbe. When she became Grand President, 1916-1920, Lydia was a second-generation Kappa, one of three daughters of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Slade, charter member of Lambda Chapter.

All three of Lizzie’s daughters were Lambda initiates who went on to hold national office. Lydia was Grand Treasurer, Business Manager of The Key and Grand President; Elizabeth was Grand President’s deputy, Editor of The Key and Grand Treasurer; Marion served as sister Lydia’s deputy.

Their dedication to Kappa is not surprising in that their mother, Lizzie, was the first of five sisters on Lambda’s chapter roll, one of whom (Marion) served nationally as Grand Marshal when Lydia was just a toddler, from 1884-1886.

A kindergarten teacher with a B.S. in home economics, Lydia has been described as “indefatigable in her zeal and earnestness for the Fraternity.” During her two terms as Grand President, seven new chapters were started, Gamma Alpha – Kansas State, Gamma Beta – New Mexico, Gamma Gamma – Whitman; Gamma Delta – Purdue, Gamma Epsilon – Pittsburgh; Gamma Zeta – Arizona, Gamma Eta – Washington State. A Kappa calendar was printed, a new Catalogue custodian was selected, the Students’ Aid Fund was increased and The Key was published in the black. Province Vice Presidents were instituted to assist the Grand Vice President with alumna matters.

Lydia found the travel part of her presidency a hardship, with “night after night spent on trains and at nondescript hotels.” But out of loyalty, she and the rest of her Council agreed to continue serving in their respective offices from 1918-1920; World War I had started, and by vote Kappa held no Convention in 1918.

The Convention of 1920, however, was Kappa’s 50th, its Golden Jubilee. And it was “Lydia’s Convention,” at which her proud mother was present to hear Lydia’s valedictory address.

“May the structure of the next 50 years be as strong and beautiful (as the first),” Lydia said, adding, “This can only be accomplished by a strict adherence to those policies which have been tested and found invaluable; by an open-mindedness to new ideas and situations; by loyalty to each other, which excludes jealousness and rancor and by living according to the ideals of our Fraternity.”

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