Alpha CHi Omega

DIGITAL HISTORY

SISTER OF SIGNIFICANCE: Estelle Leonard 

Estelle Leonard

Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University) was born in Monroe County, Indiana, near Bloomington. The date of her birth is unknown, but she was said to have been 95 at the time of her death in early 1955, which would have made her birth sometime in 1859 or 1860. This means that she would have been 25 years old at the time of the founding, the oldest of the seven Founders by far.


Estelle entered the School of Music at DePauw University in 1885 with the serious purpose of studying music as a means of livelihood. Older than the other students, Estelle had been supporting herself and earning a living for several years before enrolling at DePauw. She seemed to realize the economic necessity of her endeavor and spent most of her time studying and serving as Dean Howe's secretary. The excitement of participating in the formation of a new fraternity must have been very strong in order to cause her to devote her limited free time to its activities!


Estelle was elected Alpha Chi Omega's first President and was particularly interested in the business matters such as the wording of the constitution and of the charter presented to Beta chapter (Albion College). She must have realized that the decisions being made in those first years would influence the Fraternity in the years to come. Tall, slim and dignified, with a mass of dark hair worn pompadour and piled on top of her head, Estelle's stern looks and focus on the business of the Fraternity belied her sense of humor and love of practical jokes.


Having been a member of the faculty for two years as well as a student, Estelle graduated from DePauw in 1891. She did, in fact, make a career of her music. She served as principal of the music department at Moores Hill College (later absorbed by the University of Evansville) from 1893-95 and then as principal of the piano department at Centenary College from 1895-1900. In 1900, Estelle moved to Union City, Indiana where she spent 45 years teaching piano and organ, taught music in the Union City schools, served as music director and organist of the First Methodist Church and wrote a column for the Union City Times. An active composer, two of Estelle's compositions received widespread publicity: "Sunlight," a piano solo, and "Rondo," originally for piano and later arranged for three violins and piano.


Estelle Leonard died on March 3, 1955 after suffering a broken hip; she was 95.

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