McAllister Family Witnesses True Meaning of Sisterhood
Though she was a legacy from another sorority, it was the women of Tri Delta who warmly welcomed Gayle Stauffer McAllister ’49 when she arrived at Mizzou. “A friend invited me to the Tri Delt house and I knew those women accepted me for who I was. I had to live with girls I really liked and I found support from the older ones in the chapter.”
Those years were an adventure for Gayle and a time of special memories. “When I arrived, I was a pretty shy person and the Tri Delts helped bring me out of that. They got me out of a bit of a shell, taught me to do a lot of service, and really were a lot of fun.”
Gayle earned a degree in education and taught for two years before marrying her husband, Bill. The two worked together in his dental office for more than 20 years. During that time, Gayle took to raising her children—Lynn, John, and Ed—and drew from the community service lessons she had learned, serving in numerous volunteer roles, including president of the Joplin, Missouri, Board of Education.
Her family grew and soon it was her granddaughters, Megan ’10 and Lydia ’12, who were heading off to college at the University of Missouri. “I really tried to impart to Megan and Lydia that they needed to be happy with the girls they were going to live with and both chose Tri Delta. I’ve truly enjoyed seeing them become members and watching both initiations.”
It was in 2011, soon after Megan became a member of Delta Xi, that a tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, leaving devastation and destroying Megan and Lydia’s family home. “By the time I got over to them a few days later, I just stood and cried seeing the entire house gone except for the basement,” said Gayle.
As the family began to put the pieces back together, the women of Tri Delta stepped in, first with phone calls, messages, and visits, then with gifts, clothes, and care packages. Megan received letters and donations from Tri Delta chapters all over the country, proving the sorority’s song, that when you’re a part of Tri Delta, you are truly never alone.
“After sorting through piles of debris,” said Megan, “I came to believe that nothing remained. Every memory was destroyed, but I kept digging hoping something would pop up. I caught a glimpse of my Tri Delta paddle, almost fully intact, along with two pictures—one of my pledge class and the other of me and my grandma. I had planned on not returning to Mizzou after the tornado, but holding those three triangles in my hand was a sign that I had to come back.”
In high school at the time, Lydia saw the gift of friendship firsthand. “I saw the outpouring from the Tri Deltas and even before I went through recruitment, I could see that they had a true sisterhood.”
Having seen the quality of the active members and visiting the Chapter House over the years to see her granddaughters, Gayle was an early contributor to Delta Xi’s campaign for an updated Chapter House.
“When I was in the house, we slept on the sleeping porch in metal bunk beds with electric blankets during the winter. Now, when girls go through recruitment, they need to see what can be done with an older house. I was pleased to donate in order to get the renovation of the house started; it needed to be done. At the Centennial, I got to see the new house and it’s perfectly beautiful. Everything they chose to do was great.”