The Palo Alto Alumnae Club was created in 1945 by Frances Rothenburg (Carson), who had been living on the East Coast when she learned that her husband had been killed in the line of duty during WWII. She decided to start a new life and moved to Palo Alto, CA with her small daughter. When she found out that there was no Theta alumnae group for this area, she contacted Headquarters and they sent her a list of 26 names. She personally called each of the names and they decided to meet and form the Palo Alto Alumnae Club. Frances was elected President for the first two years.

When Jan Mitchell became President in 1969, she decided that the Alumnae Club should take the next big step and become an Alumnae Chapter. It had been such an easy existence as a Club that it was a major change to take on the roll of an Alumnae Chapter. The membership became far more involved with Theta, but the number of DPMs had grown significantly, and members can recall 70 to 90 Thetas gathering at the monthly meetings in Theta homes.

The next big change fore the Alumnae Chapter occurred while current DPM Carol McPadden was President, in 1978. During her term, the Alumnae Chapter learned that a small group of women on Stanford University’s campus were actively interested in returning the sorority system to the campus. The Alumnae Chapter participated in the extension and installation process of Phi deuteron. It also meant the creation of an Advisory Board and a House Corporation Board. The first President of the Corp. Board, Judy Phillips, had a particularly difficult job since Stanford was determined to oust the sororities once again for any reason (even a bag lunch on the Stanford grass).

The earliest members of the Palo Alto Alumnae Chapter designated two local organizations, the Family Service Association of Palo Alto and a scholarship for the now defunct Theta chapter at San Jose State University as their local philanthropies. The earliest fundraiser recorded, was a Wine Tasting Party held from 1957 to 1958. Members sold tickets to raise funds for the Chapter’s local philanthropies. In 1959, the Alumnae Chapter held two fundraisers, a “Flaming Festival” to sell Charmwick candles and a “Theta Treasure Tea” during which members auctioned off their unused treasures. Profits from these two events were donated to the Institute of Logopedics, in addition to the Chapter’s local philanthropies. The “Theta Treasure Tea” was repeated for the next few years and eventually grew into the Chapter’s annual “Table Setting Competition.”

The first “Table Setting Competition” was held at the Firestone home in Atherton, in 1964. Various local celebrities and companies were invited to decorate tables related to the theme, “Say it with Music,” and a contest was held for a $50 prize. By the time the seventh annual “Table Setting Competition” in 1970 was organized by current DPM Sharleen Fiddaman, it had evolved into one of the major benefits hosted on the Peninsula. The event was planned by 25 to 30 DPMs over a period of 14 months and was attended by approximately 600 guests. However, by 1973 the Chapter was unable to generate enough member involvement to maintain the planning of such a large scale event and returned to the original format of the “Theta Treasure Tea,” with the added benefit of an authentic auctioneer, after a year off in which they sold calendars. The “Theta Auction/Treasure Tea” continued until 1976, when they sold tickets for a benefit concert at a local auditorium.

The Alumnae Chapter began a new annual fundraiser in the spring of 1978, “May Day-Play Day,” a combination Tennis and Bridge tournament. The Tennis-Bridge tournament was envisioned by the Benefit Chairpersons, Judy Phillips and Carol Friedman. The event grew over the years and eventually required 4 different Tennis Clubs in order to accommodate all the players interested in participating. The Tennis-Bridge tournaments continued until 1984, when they suffered the same fate as the “Table Setting Competition” and became too difficult to organize with the decreased member interest. Since then, the Alumnae Chapter has done different fundraisers such as selling Holiday Wrapping Paper and doing "Cup of Tea for Theta". The Chapter donates the profits from the fundraisers to Child Advocates of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, their local CASA.

Some of the more popular programs held throughout the Alumnae Chapter’s history have been their annual Founder’s Day Luncheons, an annual Holiday Party and a fall craft get-together that still continue to this day. A popular annual event in the earlier days of the Chapter was a Gourmet Luncheon held from 1960 until the mid 1980s in which members were encouraged to bring a favorite dish and the recipe to share with the other attendees. A number of recipe books were produced from the Gourmet Luncheon over the years. A popular annual event from the last few years has been the Nordstrom Spring Fashion Show.


There have been a total of 45 past Presidents. The past Club Presidents who are still active members in the Alumnae Chapter are: Annette Mohr 1964 and Dee Cunningham 1967.

Page last updated on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 5:03 PM (11:36:2351)