Bill Griggs, as Wild Bill, teaches Donna Clark how to play an old west card game called faro during a Beta Sigma Phi meeting.

Editor’s note: Part of a series highlighting service organizations in Muskogee.

Beta Sigma Phi is a sisterhood created during the Great Depression to bring women together in a social, cultural and educational climate during difficult times.

“We’re like sisters — we’re all like family,” said Dolores Seward, who hosted the March meeting of Omicron Eta Chapter at her Muskogee home Tuesday.

The members described themselves as being “mature,” explaining their days of doing fast pitch at the fairgrounds as being over.

They remain busy with providing diapers, formula and clothing to women in need who have infants. That includes providing diapers, formula and clothing for baby baskets distributed at Trinity United Methodist Church and helping with the Meals on Wheels program at Grace Episcopal Church.

“We do other things when the need arises,” Seward said.

The chapters are comprised of members diverse in background, education and employment, Seward said.

“I’m retired, said Pat Lee, president of Omicron Eta Chapter. “I worked on the Alaskan pipeline and later was a Congressional staff member for the Office of Hearings and Appeals.”

Alice Lowe is a retired teacher.

One member lived on a ranch for years.

Entertainment at this month’s meeting included a visit from re-enactors portraying bandit queen Belle Starr and Wild Bill Hickok — dressed in the finery of their time.

Wild Bill, a notorious poker player who said he was supposed to have killed more than 100 men, treated the club members to a little gambling game that prompted a number of excited “oohs” and giggles.

Belle, in her cowboy hat decorated in pheasant feathers, told of her rather promiscuous days, saying: “I was involved with some bad boys, because I liked the excitement. A lot of people said we rode hard and we played hard.”

Bill Griggs played Hickok, and club member Dr. Laura Roets, decked out in a red wig, portrayed Starr. Both are members of Scots of the Old West.

Omicron Eta Chapter’s maximum membership is 15. There are 14 active members and one inactive member.

The membership is kept to a number that can be accommodated in any of their homes, Seward said.

Beta Sigma Phi

MEMBERSHIP: Three local chapters, 200,000 members worldwide.

PROJECTS: Varies with chapters. Internationally, the sorority gives $2-3 million a year to service, and give between 200-300,000 hours of their time to good causes.

MEETS: Meeting dates vary with the local chapters.

TO JOIN: Membership information or other questions, e-mail

DUES: $62 to join and $38 a year.

ESTABLISHED: Founded in 1931 in Abilene, Kan., by Walter W. Ross.


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