Beryl Showers Holland

Beryl Showers decided she needed more in her life than just time spent studying at May Wright Sewell’s Classical School for Girls in Indianapolis. So she and six gal pals formed a sorority so they could enjoy social time together.

In time, this expanded to the statewide Tri Kappa we know today.

“I just needed something else to do,” Beryl says. “Studying all the time is boring. I needed to spend quality time with my friends, so, hey, I started a sorority!” After electing officers and writing a constitution (part of which still stands today), Beryl and Co. decided to branch out to their hometowns.

“I got Bertha Matthews to join me during spring break 1901 in Btown,” Beryl says. “Two years later, we had our first statewide convention with four chapters participating – Bloomington, New Harmony, Paoli and Bedford. We met at the Old Opera House on the southside of the courthouse square.”

In the early days, Tri Kappa’s emphasis was on feeding and clothing the less fortunate.

“We felt like those were worthy causes,” Beryl says. “I know our Alpha chapter now has expanded the giving to over $16,000 to charity, culture and education. That’s amazing!”

Things in the Alpha chapter sure have changed since Beryl was in charge. Through the years, the Btown Tri Kappas have raised funds via bridge parties, style shows, pecan sales and the memorable Tri Kappa Follies in 1962.

“But I really wish I had thought of Blingo before Amanda Burnham did,” Beryl says. “I would have loved to wear a tutu!”

Beryl and her husband, Dr. J.E.P. Holland, were the parents of one son, Charles. The family lived at 316 N. Washington St. When she wasn’t keeping house or caring for her son (women didn’t work outside the home much in Beryl’s day), she was actively involved in Republican politics (she was the first acting GOP national committeewoman from Indiana) and the Trinity Episcopal Church.

She also worked with the Hoosier Art Salon, T.B. Association, hospital board, Public Health Association, State Board of Education and Local Council of Women.

“It was hard to be a college-educated woman back then,” Beryl says. “I had a lot of time on my hands, so I tried to make a difference through philanthropic work.

“I do hope the things I did – especially starting Tri Kappa – made a difference to this great town we all call home.”

(Writer’s note: Being the seasoned journalist I am, I have to admit that I took liberty with Beryl’s quotes. — Nancy Gettinger)


   More About Beryl:

  • Member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at Indiana University

  • Monroe County Hall of Fame inductee

  • Loved her wonderful grandchildren James and Leah

  • Valued “faith, family and community” above all else

  • Has a huge plaque honoring her at the Bloomington hospital