Alpha CHi Omega

DIGITAL HISTORY

SISTER OF SIGNIFICANCE: Olive Burnett Clark 

Olive Burnett Clark

Although all of the Founders are important figures in the Fraternity's history, Olive Burnett (Alpha, DePauw University) was described as "the best known and most popular" among the Founders. It was Olive who created detailed first-hand accounts of the founding and also provided vibrant descriptions of the other six Founders and of Dean Howe.


Olive was born in Greencastle, Indiana on June 10, 1867. With her childhood friends Anna Allen (Alpha, DePauw University) and Bessie Grooms (Alpha, DePauw University), Olive enrolled in the DePauw University School of Music in the fall of 1885. There she studied piano, violin, cello and double bass, the last two at Dean Howe's request in order to play in the orchestra. She served as a member of the School of Music faculty from 1886-88, teaching pianoforte and primary work on the violin, cello and double bass. She also served as the organist at the College Avenue Church. In the spring of her junior year, Olive left school and took a job teaching piano and violin in Anderson and Franklin, Indiana.


Olive married Ralph B. Clark, a businessman and musician from Anderson, Indiana in 1889. She and Ralph had three children, two sons and a daughter, all of whom went on to attend DePauw. The boys became members of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and her daughter, Mary Ellen Clark (Alpha, DePauw University), became the first daughter of a Founder to become an Alpha Chi Omega.


In 1917, the Clark family moved to Indianapolis, where Olive lived for the rest of her life. She was an active member of the Beta Beta (Indianapolis, Indiana) chapter for almost 40 years and served as one of its early presidents. A close friend of fellow Founder Bertha Deniston Cunningham (Alpha, DePauw University) since their first year at DePauw, the two were reunited in Indianapolis and remained dear friends until Bertha's death in 1950. Olive Burnett Clark died at her home on April 18, 1957, just two months before her 90th birthday.

  • Join Date
  • 10/15/1885
  • Member?
  • Yes