The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross

Founder's Day History
by Lynn Terry
(April 1938 issue of The Torch)

 On April 30th, 1932, we celebrated our first anniversary of Beta Sigma Phi, our first Founder's Day! Having so short a history to celebrate, the keynote of that first birthday was pretty much our future. To quote from The Torch of April, that year: "It is customary on Founder's Day to look back and review the accomplishments of the past: the steady, substantial growth of Beta Sigma Phi exemplifies its ambitious program. We can look with pride upon its record. But let us look to the future!" The magazine of that issue had four pages!

 In April 1933, a twelve-page magazine indicated how wonderful that future might be. This second Founder's Day took as a theme "The Torch" and the insignia of Beta Sigma Phi. The anniversary was on Sunday and in some instances an afternoon tea was substituted for the formal banquet of the previous year.

 In 1934 especial attention was given toward coordinating the plans for Founder's Day and a suggested program was sent from the National Office (BSF did not become International until 1935) urging all Chapters to "attend a formal banquet beginning at the same hour and embracing substantially the same program everywhere." A special Founder's Day prayer was prepared for the occasion and became another contribution to tradition.

 Founder's Day, 1935, was based upon a poem "The Torch Bearer" dedicated to every member and since endeared to the hearts of all of us by tradition and repetition. (Poem follows)

 Founder's Day, 1936, was distinguished by the reading of the Rituals as the principle part of the program. This yearly renewal of our vows and formal installation of members had become an inalienable part of our anniversary observance.

 Canada was the theme of April 30th, 1937 - our joy and welcome to the sister nation who made of Beta Sigma Phi an International instead of a National movement.

 And now - in 1938 - we have chosen as a most appropriate focus for our gratitude the Founder himself, Mr. Walter W. Ross. (Please refer to the attached story about him written by Carroll W. Berry, Corporation Counsel for Beta Sigma Phi at the time.)

Walter W. Ross, A Portrait of Our Founder

Written by Carroll W. Berry (Corporation Counsel for Beta Sigma Phi) ... April 1938 issue of The Torch
(Paraphrased by Marilyn Ross)

 "The Editor of The Torch has given me the privilege of telling Beta Sigma Phi what the friends of Walter Ross think of him. I can say truthfully that I would be fully satisfied with my own reputation if my friends thought as well of me as his friends do of him. What manner of man is he? The adjectives are: just, kind, loyal, generous, and intelligent. He has a modesty without meekness, humility without abasement, and an integrated personality that permits him to be always himself. He is ever courteous without appearing the courtier. He does more fine things with less ostentation than any man I know.

 As a host he makes his guests feel that their presence has added to his happiness. As a guest he makes a hostess take pride in her hospitality. He is a too generous, sympathetic father of two boys, and a husband happy with an understanding, intelligent and charming wife - a lady who deserves recognition on her own part.

 As a businessman he is a careful bargainer, but always fair. As a client he has never asked me, his lawyer, to steer his course in any path but that of straightforward honesty and frankness. When I first met him at the time The Educational Foundation and Beta Sigma Phi were incorporated and associated, I formed my high opinion of him. It has undergone no change except improvement.

 He is not a religionist, yet I believe he is a mystic. He may never have read, but unconsciously lives the Sixth Chapter of Saint Matthew, and the second of the two great Commandments. His philosophy recognizes companionships and friendly contacts as realities with business victories as incidents. But never mistake his gentleness for weakness, nor his unfailing courtesy for a concession to your point!

 Service in the United States Navy on Admiral Sims' flagship, and later, as part of the naval personnel with the American Embassy in London during World War I has given him a taste of discipline that has left a quiet impression on his personality. Visits to Paris and other points on the continent have added Catholicity to his tastes. Early days as a salesman of books have developed aggressiveness, and familiarization with his product, to his literary education, which is exemplified by his fine collection of books on womankind (first editions-most of them.)

 He is English by descent. But a certain Scotch canniness and a French flair for fitness, must have induced the adoption of this hobby of book collection on the subject of his life work, womankind.

 He has personally extended to me and many of whom I know, kindnesses far beyond the requirements of ordinary friendship. In fact, he just never does the ordinary thing. He is a true friend.

 He formed Beta Sigma Phi because he felt that the need for educational opportunity and the field for its development among young women was large. And, then, Beta Sigma Phi just grew! And as it matured, Walter Ross grew with it.

 Perhaps more than any man, other than Walter, I understand Beta Sigma Phi. I am prouder of its corporate organization structure than any work I have ever done as a lawyer. I glory in its growth! The other day Walter exclaimed to me, "I have just had a very exhilarating experience. I have just seen the soul of Beta Sigma Phi revealed in hundreds of letters explaining the meaning of the sorority to the writers. I tell you, Carroll, it makes me humble, very humble, to see what this movement has become and means to these fine young women. They've built something finer into this thing than I ever anticipated."

 I saw those letters from all over this continent and they included the words: "Friendship," "Ideals," "Culture," "Creativeness," "Camaraderie" and "Hope."

 I often think of Walter Ross as Pygmalion, the sculptor, with Beta Sigma Phi as the statue Galatea, hewn (shaped) by his hand, which finally became alive because of his care in the carving and love of his creation. He made it by his work a lovely, inanimate thing with a real use. But the vitalization of the figure came by the grace of the Goddess of Love when she was given a heart and claimed breath and life and soul far beyond the sculptor's original conception.

 I believe I have caught the spirit of this great woman's movement, vibrant, sympathetic, and purposeful. I, too, am humbled by the development of this thing I helped to start, but I do not marvel at it because I know the sculptor, Walter Ross."

The Torchbearer

(Author Unknown)

(Dedicated to Every Member of Beta Sigma Phi who is indeed a Torch Bearer)

"The God of High Endeavor gave me a Torch to bear,

I lifted it high above me in the dark and murky air;

And straightway, with loud hosannas, the crowd proclaimed its light

Till drunk with the people's praises and mad with vanity

I forgot 'twas the Torch they followed,

And fancied they followed me.

Then slowly my arm grew weary upholding the shining load,

And my tired feet went stumbling over the dusty road.

And I fell with the Torch beneath me. In a moment the light was out,

When lo, from the throng a stripling (a grown boy) sprang forth with a mighty shout

Caught up the Torch as it smoldered, and lifted it high again,

Till, fanned by the winds of heaven, it fired the souls of men.

And I lay in the darkness, the feet of the trampling crowd

Passed over and far beyond me, its paeans (song of joy, triumph) proclaiming aloud,

And I learned in the deepening twilight, the glorious verity, (truth, reality)

'Tis the Torch that the people follow, Whoever the bearer be."

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