Fay Olds of Vevay: Community service through Tri Kappa

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This week is Tri Kappa Week throughout the State of Indiana, and here in Switzerland County, the Gamma Chi chapter is joining with other chapters across the state in celebrating the work of this philanthropic organization.

And if you’re talking Tri Kappa in Vevay – most likely you’re talking about Fay Olds.

Fay Olds, who lives on Seminary Street in Vevay, has been a member of the Gamma Chi chapter for more than 50 years, and is still as passionate today about the work of the organization as she was when she first joined.

“I joined Gamma Chi chapter on June 16th, 1960,” Fay Olds says. “Leah Buchanan invited me to a meeting, and I went. She came up and she explained Tri Kappa to me, and I thought, ‘Gosh, that sounds like something I would be interested in’.”

That first meeting turned into more than 50 years of active service for Fay Olds, as she has held nearly every office in the organization, including serving as the chapter President on several occasions. If there’s a meeting of Tri Kappa, you can also count on the fact that Fay Olds is probably going to be there.

“I’ve probably not missed 50 meetings in the 50 years I’ve been involved,” she says proudly. If I’ve missed one, it’s been because I was sick. The meetings have been such a learning thing for me, I don’t like to miss one.”

Tri Kappa is unique to the State of Indiana, with chapters spread across the state. The original chapter was founded by a group of women who went to a girls school in Indianapolis, according to Fay Olds, who felt that it was important for women to work on philanthropic projects.

The group found some funding to get started, and each of those founding women returned to their hometowns and started new chapters there.

And Tri Kappa has grown from there.

“Tri Kappa brings women together in unselfish relationships for the purpose of promotion of charity, culture, and education,” Fay Olds says. “I’ve found over the years our women are very unselfish when it comes to helping our county.”

Along with a variety of local projects, which have included helping people coordinate Christmas charities, helping the local theater, and providing scholarships, among others.

“We want to help people,” Fay Olds said. “We once bought a suit of clothes for a man who had just passed the bar exam but didn’t have a suit to wear. We’ve helped people get their teeth fixed. We’ve bought a lot of prom dresses; and we have bought many pairs of shoes for people who needed them – most of those down at Raymond Osborn’s old store.”

There are also state projects, such as Riley Childrens Hospital, that are important to the local chapter; and all of that help comes from funds raised through the hard work of the members of the chapter.

“The money we collect can’t be spent on ourselves,” Fay Olds says. “We used to raise our money in ‘little ways’ – bake sales, rummage sales, and things like that. Now, we do the gates at the Swiss Wine Festival, which helps us a lot.”

Along with the regular chapter, the Tri Kappa organization here also has an Associate Chapter.

Fay Olds said that the associate chapter is made up of Tri Kappa members who feel that they have gotten too old to be a regular member and participate in all of the projects, but they still want to be associated with the organization. That chapter was created here in 1950.

To be a member of Tri Kappa, a woman must be at least a high school graduate and must live in the community. Fay Olds said that any woman who is interested in learning more about the local Tri Kappa chapter can contact her or any other member of the organization, which currently totals about 22 active members.

So does it seem like 50 years?

“No, it seems like I’ve been there forever,” Fay Olds smiles. “I’ve seen it evolve into different areas and lives in our community. There have been different girls with different ideas come in, and they bring new ideas into the group. We try and keep our community as our central concern. It’s our sincere concern.”

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Fay Olds has lived in Vevay since she was 18 years old. Her first job after moving here was serving as the assistant town clerk under Mary Roberts; and she also ran the Switzerland County License Branch for 17 years and served as an administrative assistant to the district engineer at the Seymour District of the Indiana Department of Transportation for more than six years.

She also served as the chairperson of the Switzerland County Republican Party for many years, and proudly states that she served as a delegate from Indiana to the Republican National Convention twice – having the opportunity to cast a vote for Ronald Reagan.

She is a member of Ruter Chapter United Methodist Church; and her hobbies include cooking and interior decorating.

- Pat Lanman