Poise, tenderness in decisions, truest courtesy, unfailing graciousness, sincere interest, depth of conviction, keen intellectual ability, intensity and firmness in her faith are just a few of the phrases used to describe Alta Allen Loud.
Alta Allen was born January 1, 1878. Sixteen years later, she was initiated into the Beta chapter of Alpha Chi Omega at Albion College in Albion, Michigan. In her junior year, she attended her first convention as a delegate. It was at the Fifth National Convention at Greencastle, Indiana, in 1897 that she was elected Grand Secretary, a role similar to today’s national vice presidents.
Alta was not the only family member devoted to the Beta chapter and Alpha Chi Omega. Her sister, Janette Allen Cushman, served as the Fraternity’s Grand President while she was still in college, from 1891-93. Additionally, their father secured the money to build the first Beta chapter house with the understanding that the loan could be paid back in small or large sums at any time, no interest. The 1910 Lyre recounts a special moment Mr. Allen provided the women: “He watched the building with a great deal of interest, and when we mourned because we could not afford a mirror over the mantle in the reception hall, he smiled and counseled economy. And when the lodge was finished, there hung the mirror, just as we had so wanted it, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Allen.”
Alta is the longest serving National President in Alpha Chi Omega history. She served from 1907-10 and from 1912-19. Many important decisions were made during her tenure. At the 1908 National Convention, a new position of chapter advisor was created, the secret motto was adopted, and the holly tree was selected as the Fraternity tree. The 1910 National Convention saw the Fraternity adopt an official flag, choose Hera as the patron goddess and establish the Hera Head for past Grand Council officers, which today’s National Council officers still receive. Additionally, the National Council Trophy was established, to be given annually, and the first history book was published. The first Daily Convention Transcript was published at the 1915 National Convention, where the extension policy was broadened and scholarship requirements for initiation were adopted. Despite World War I, the 1919 National Convention body voted to continue caring for 150 French war orphans as well as to establish a permanent endowment to the Star Studio.
Alta Allen Loud was also a wife, a college professor, a hostess in the Nurses Training School of Harper Hospital in Detroit, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the president of the Albion City Hospital Board.
Alta passed on June 28, 1933, one day after being struck by an automobile. She was only 55 years old. National President Ethel Mead Van Auken (Lambda, Syracuse University) shared, “Her death is a challenge to all of us to carry into future years the fine and true and beautiful ideals for which she unwaveringly stood.”