1945 Alpha Chi Omega sisters

Actually, Four for the Books

Betty Rose Hutson, WC ’45, experienced one of those bittersweet moments that certainly included some sadness but also bubbled with joy. She told how she and her three closest Brenau sorority sisters and classmates enjoyed the gift of best friends who actually communicated regularly for more than 70 years.

“I just think it is great that we are all still alive and all have stayed in touch over all these years,” said Hutson in a telephone call from her home in Durham, North Carolina. “It’s been a grand relationship.”

However, she sadly reported that one of them had just that week gone into hospice care, and the prognosis was not a good one.

Hutson and her three Alpha Chi Omega sisters graduated from Brenau Women’s College shortly after Germany surrendered and shortly before Japan fell to end World War II. The rest of the tight Class of ’45 foursome included Sue White Brown (Yes, they’ve had some fun with that, uh, colorful married name over the years.), a Dalton, Georgia native, like Hutson, but now a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina. Also we have Sara Samuels Stokes (“Be sure and spell Sara without the ‘h’,” Hutson admonishes. “She does not use the ‘h’ on Sara.”), who was a speech major from Mansfield, Louisiana, where she still resides. Finally, the group includes former Brenau trustee Doris Beidenmiller Whittaker, who made a point of telling Brenau development officer Ben McDade during a recent visit to “call her ‘Dee.’” However, from her maiden name her AXO and Brenau sisters created the malapropism “Buttermilk,” which is what Hutson, her roommate at Brenau, called her throughout the conversation.

The sad note to Hutson’s call in late April was that “Buttermilk,” feisty and talkative in her restaurant lunch with McDade a few weeks earlier, apparently was losing her long battle with lung cancer. “When I called, I told her that I would take her to a really nice restaurant,” McDade recalls. “She said, ‘You’re damn straight you will.’”

Buttermilk “was originally from West Virginia, but moved around a lot,” said Hutson. “Her mother was a widow, and she did not have that many relatives around, so I think Brenau meant more to her than it did to the rest of us because Brenau became family for her and, to some extent, home for her.”

Whittaker had been a top officer in the Student Government Association, and she returned to Brenau for service on the Board of Trustees between 1998 and 2004.

However, during their time at Brenau, as the 1945 edition of Bubbles, the yearbook, recounts, all of the four were campus leaders. For example, Hutson was president of Alpha Delta national journalistic fraternity and the languages society. Stokes was president of the Zeta Phi Eta, the speech fraternity. Beidenmiller, an English major, and Stokes were both HGH Honor Society members. White chaired the Delta Psi Kappa physical education fraternity.

Although their paths took them into some different parts of the country, that did not break the bond. So, what have they all been doing over the years? “Mostly getting married and raising kids,” Hutson said. “That’s what women did back then. We are of the vintage when women got married and stayed at home with their children. I had four, Sara had four, and the other two had two each.” White did become “a tour director for a while, and she had a grand time. It was a unique opportunity, and she took advantage of it and enjoyed it.”

The methods they used to stay in contact since they left Brenau draw a virtual a road map of the evolution of person-to-person communication technology in the last seven decades, starting with the first: the U.S. Post Office and its 3-cent stamp. They wrote letters. “Back in those days, if you made a long-distance telephone call, you had to think twice, because it was very expensive,” she said. Although none of the group ever embraced social media, she and Buttermilk used to email “all the time. But recently, we’ve just been phoning each other.”

“We just have had over the years a sisterly feeling for each other,” Hutson said. “It started at Brenau and it hasn’t ended.”

Doris Beidenmiller
Doris Beidenmiller Whittaker
Sue White Brown
Sue White Brown
Betty Rose Hutson
Betty Rose Hutson
Sara Samuels
Sara Samuels Stokes

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