Karen Miller remembers her first meeting of the Vevay chapter of the Tri Kappa sorority.
“It was in 1966, and you have to be invited to be a Tri Kappa,” Miller said. “My first time was at Ralph Tilley’s house. Jean Tilley was the hostess there, and that’s when I went in, at her house. It was a fast 50 years.”
That meeting 50 years ago led to a lifetime of community service and commitment to the organization; and it also led the current members of the Tri Kappa chapter to honor Karen Miller recently as its “Woman of the Year” in honor of her work and also for her 50 years of membership in the chapter.
“It was a nice, pleasant surprise,” Miller said of the honor. “They had a surprise get together for me over at Stacy’s hotel (Swiss Inn) on one Saturday in honor of me being a 50-year member, and at the same time that they had that, they presented me with the ‘Woman of the Year’ award. It was a very pleasant surprise, the whole thing was.”
Tri Kappa is unique to the State of Indiana. It’s official website tells of the beginning of the organization and where it is today:
Kappa Kappa Kappa, Inc. commonly known as Tri Kappa, is a unique philanthropic organization existing only within the boundaries of the state of Indiana. Seven young ladies met at the Girlsʼ Classical School of Indianapolis (May Wright Sewall) and founded the sorority in 1901. Each young lady was to begin a chapter in her hometown. From these humble beginnings, Tri Kappa has thrived throughout the state with 144 Active Chapters and 110 Associate Chapters, totaling almost 9000 actively participating members.
“Our area is ‘Group 2’, and there’s so many Tri Kappa chapters in our area from different towns,” Miller said. “There are state officers, and there’s also someone who goes around and does inspections. At one time, Lois Rosenberger held that position. We had a big get together here for all of the people to come here for her.”
The local Tri Kappa chapter is focused on giving back to the community.
“Lots of giving. Lots of scholarships,” Miller said. “Helping the schools as much as possible with different projects. We help with sending someone to Girls State. There’s a Benedict Scholarship. We give to the Top 10 boys and girls in the graduation class. There’s the Gary Rosenberger Memorial Scholarship, and many others we support.”
Miller also said that the local organization has a “Sisterly Love” Scholarship that it awards, which is targeted at women who are older and out of school and who are trying to go back to school. This year: two county women received that scholarship.
And it doesn’t stop there.
“We take cupcakes to the nursing home every month,” Miller said. “It’s a lot of different things.”
Over 50 years, the make up of the local chapter has changed a lot, but Miller says that those same core values of community service still remain.
“You still have very dedicated people,” she said. “We have an excellent group of officers now, and they have a nice group of members now. We’d gone down to a minimal number at different times. A lot of people don’t feel service club-oriented like they used to. It used to be a big, big deal. Now there’s a good group of hard working, younger people in there now, and that’s what you need.”
Miller says that she’s held every office in the organization except for corresponding secretary; including serving as President on more than one occasion. Currently, she gives her time serving on various committees, helping wherever she can.
Karen Peters Miller was born and raised here in Vevay, the daughter of Cecil and Jeannette Peters. She attended all 12 years of school here in Vevay, a 1963 graduate of Vevay High School.
Out of schools, she first worked at the U.S. Shoe Factory for a time, and then worked in the office and the newly opened Vocational School in Versailles. She then worked at First National Bank here for seven years, working for Eugene Spencer, and then left banking, working for Burrows Manufacturing in the office for Bill Roberts.
But ultimately banking made its way back into Karen Miller’s life, and it is her longtime association with Vevay Deposit Bank that many remember her from.
“I decided I was ready to come back to banking, so I came down and talked to Mr. Tilley, and got on there in 1974, and I was there until I retired in 2006,” she said. “So I had 39 1/2 years in banking when I retired.”
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Miller says. “Some people say that they don’t like it, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of my retirement, because I’m out and about. You see me on my bicycle.”
She worked for eight years with the flower pot program for Vevay Main Street, and currently volunteers her time at the Switzerland County Museum. She’s also the Sunday School clerk at Brushy Fork Baptist Church.
She and her husband, Norman, have two children: Traci and Travis. The couple will celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary this year.