Last year, I had the immense pleasure of going back to my alma mater to celebrate my sorority’s 100th anniversary at the University of Missouri. Over 600 Alpha Phis, past and present, converged on the quad for a celebratory photo before our celebratory gala.
A year later, I was able to commemorate the occasion by interviewing the two (both familial and sorority) sisters that chaired the event. Pat and Marcia sent over 3 pages of information each, reminiscing about their days on campus and the joys and trials of planning the Centennial. If only all interviewees were so gracious about their replies…
Note: This website was taken down in 2017. The posts I wrote for the blog are no longer available to link to, so I have included the full text below, removing links where necessary.
Fabulous Alums of the Month: Pat Jones Stevens and Marcia Jones Lane
It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year since many of us gathered back on campus to celebrate Alpha Phi and her 100 years on campus at Mizzou. As co-chairs, sisters Pat Jones Stevens ’66 and Marcia Jones Lane ’72 were instrumental in organizing an event worthy of the over 600 women that attended.
Pat remembers her days as an Alpha Phi fondly. She describes a house where everyone was close, playing cards during weekday evenings, singing around the grand piano, and foraging for midnight snacks in the kitchen. Her collegiate days were much stricter than today; the house mother, Mom Wharton, was a Southern lady with definite views on proper behavior. She had rules on everything from wearing heels and gloves to a football game, to table manners, to when and where you could kiss your boyfriend, as Pat found out (too late) — “I got called on the carpet for touchdown kisses at a game!”
Marcia joined the house two years after Pat graduated, but she returned to be with her sister on Initiation Day in 1973. Marcia found the house just as welcoming as her sister. She remembers especially looking forward to returning to the house each August in preparation for Rush Week; she says, “Everyone in the chapter lived in the house at that time, and it was so wonderful to catch up with everyone.”
After graduation, neither Jones sister was very involved with the chapter. They kept in touch with other Phis via email and Facebook, and focused on their careers and their families. Pat had a career in interior design that took her from one side of the country to the other. For the last 13 years, she’s owned her own commercial interior design company in Portland, Oregon, that works with clients like large corporations and universities. And while Marcia started out in fashion merchandising with companies like Dillards, she and her husband decided to launch their own catering company 20 years ago in Kansas City. Inspired Occasions recently won the “Best Caterer” award from all three local business and social magazines for the 10th straight year.
In 2005, Marcia was prompted by her close friend Val Lawlor ’71 to chair the event. She recalls, “On a visit, she shared her vision for a celebration worthy of our Centennial. By now I had moved into an event planning and catering career so the fit was perfect. How could I refuse?!” Once Marcia had committed, she called older sister Pat to ask her to be her co-chair. With Marcia’s catering background and Pat’s experience in organizing large fundraisers, they knew they’d make a strong team.
Pat describes an incredible planning process, where the steering committee had many teleconferences but only met face to face once a year. She notes that the most rewarding part was working with such incredible women, especially her sister: “I think Marcia and I grew a whole new respect for each other and our individual strengths. We worked so well together, and I think that translated to the group as a standard for cooperation and respect.”
The Centennial was such a success that they’re having a smaller reunion again this weekend. Gathering pledge classes between 1965 and 1972, the women plan to have drinks at Harpo’s, enjoy Sunday brunch at Boone Tavern, and explore the Alpha Phi house and Mizzou campus.