Alumni Life: Blue Bond

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits

Sigma Kappa members hold tight to a 50-plus-year connection

Left to right: Debbie Berner (EdB ’62), Carol Clayback (EdB ’62), Lynn Ensminger (EdB ’62) and  Pat Kenyon Smith (BA ’62).

Sigma Kappa today

By Ann Whitcher Gentzke

“One loyal sister stays in touch from her home base in Buenos Aires, Argentina. ”
Pat Kenyon Smith

Their friendships began with building Moving Up Day floats, attending contests to crown the campus queen and competing in “Greek Sing.” More than 50 years later, Mary Helenbrook (EdB ’64) of Williamsville, N.Y., still remembers performing Cole Porter’s “It’s De-lovely” with other members of Sigma Kappa (later Sigma Kappa Phi) sorority.

Though many of the sorority sisters drifted apart after graduation, a small group of these UB alumni from 1958 to 1964 assembled in the early ’90s to rekindle the connection. Several years later, efforts began to forge a larger club. Pat Kenyon Smith (BA ’62) of North Wales, Pa., says she developed a “sore butt” from countless hours at her computer trying to locate sorority members across the country. She eventually collected 100 email addresses; reunions have since been held in Western New York and greater Philadelphia.

Today the group has about 60 members, of whom roughly 25 are active, attending bimonthly lunches in Buffalo, participating in UB activities, or just keeping the others apprised of travel adventures and family news, both happy and sad. “We’ve supported each other through divorces and deaths, of husbands and even children,” says Smith. If a sister is in town from out of state, word goes out quickly to see if anyone is free for coffee or lunch. One loyal sister stays in touch from her home base in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

No matter where they live or how much time they have to get involved, they all know they have the sisterhood to lean on. “You might have been disconnected for a period of time. But the bond was there and you could go back to it depending on circumstances in life,” says Helenbrook. “It’s such a good feeling when we’re together.”

Sigma Kappa yesterday

1962 Sigma Kappa. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

1963 Sigma Kappa. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

1964 Sigma Kappa. Photo courtesy of University Archives.

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