Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross
Excerpt from "The Beta Sigma Phi Pioneers" - April 1972 issue of The Torch
"It was a lucky day, a very, very lucky day for me when I met Walter Ross. For as long as I live I'll always be grateful to Beta Sigma Phi for a work that I could give myself wholly to. Mr. Ross demanded it of me in a most gracious and charming way, and I am eternally grateful."
Lynn Terry spoke of her lucky day, the Founder, and Beta Sigma Phi during a visit last October in the home of her sister, Hallie Morris, an International Office pioneer in her own right. In a few days, Mrs. Terry would leave Kansas City to return to her home in Phoenix, Arizona, where for many years she has pursued the good life in retirement. She writes poetry, reads, and continues her study of life.
There is beauty all around her, because as she has observed, "The everyday things in life are beautiful." She noted that the masters also found beauty in the countless everyday things and chose them as subjects for their brushes.
An inquiry about the date of one event during her years at the Beta Sigma Phi office prompted her to proclaim, "I've lived so intensely, I have the poorest memory - no sense of time! I seem to live every day and then let it go."
But there was no hesitation as she recalled the day she met Mr. Ross, the challenge he presented to her, and how she had prepared during her youth for that lucky day.
Those familiar with her literary contributions to Beta Sigma Phi can testify to the fact that it was an equally lucky day for Beta Sigma Phi. After a great deal of thorough research and planning, Mrs. Terry wrote the Beta Sigma Phi Rituals, many outstanding Beta Sigma Phi cultural programs; The Stars Shine Through and The Living Masterpiece. She also found fulfillment in organizational work. In 1938, she founded Nu Phi Mu, which is now the first degree in Beta Sigma Phi.
Mrs. Terry retired in 1953. It is doubtful that she could ever have experienced a communications gap with any generation, for she mastered the art of communicating.
Mrs. Terry and another master of the art of communicating met in 1933. Mr. Ross knew her through her work for another organization and he was impressed. Mrs. Terry was already successful in her life's work, but there was something about the young man and his new organization that attracted her. Friends, business associates and common sense told her that this new venture was a gamble. How could she afford to leave a secure job to work for a young man with an impossible dream? Why should she? The impossible dream...the challenge of an impossible dream captivated her.
It has been said that luck is the crossroads where preparation and opportunity meet. Mrs. Terry was well prepared for the opportunity and the challenge presented to her by the Founder.
Born and reared in the Midwest, near the borderlines of three states (Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas), Mrs. Terry spent most of her childhood on a farm near Cherryvale, in southeast Kansas.
She has loved great art since early childhood. Her mother was an accomplished, self-taught painter, and she instilled in each of her children a love for art.
The "toys" Mrs. Terry cherished during her childhood were miniature reproductions of great paintings. She was only 10 or 11 years old when she first read Emerson's Essays, but she still recalls the moment with pleasure. She bought and read the book immediately, and she recalled, "I read it again and again. I liked it. I felt that it was my own mind speaking. I wrote in the margins. I filled the margins with my thoughts. I wore the cover off, but I kept reading it and I still have it."
After moving to the East, she was amazed when she discovered that the intellectuals she met also admired the works of Emerson. It was then that she learned she had studied and loved classics since childhood.
"Books have it all!" she vows to this day. "I read something and relate to it. I write in the margins. And if the bindings come off, I still read them."
There was a nostalgic moment as she recalled the time Lillian Hermann, member of the Office Staff during the early years, borrowed Mrs. Terry's cherished copy of Emerson's Essays. Mr. Ross promptly borrowed the tattered book from Lillian, had it re-bound and returned it to Mrs. Terry. The gesture was typical of the Founder. It was his way.
Mrs. Terry also has that inimitable way. It is the Beta Sigma Phi way. To her work and to her life, she has applied the aesthetic principle for art.
"In Beta Sigma Phi, we try to put art into living. Thinking is a habit. Do not let your mind make you miserable. Train yourself to think positively. When you think negatively, you should 'pull your mind up short,' " she said emphatically.
"The way to think positively is to think the Good, the True and the Beautiful. It is the aesthetic principle for art.";
"I like to be loved and I like friends, and I found the greatest avenue in the world in Beta Sigma Phi."
"I think for pleasure now, and I do know that I am happy at 81 years old," she said with a contagious smile that had been prevalent throughout the visit. That she has found happiness and fulfillment in her life is immediately apparent when one meets Mrs. Terry, and she was delighted when it was noted that her age was the surprising revelation in her statement.