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Philadelphia Kappa Silhouettes

Founded 1923

The Kappa Alpha Psi journal dated 1923 printed a report by Mrs. Bertha P. Rhodes, wife of Brother E. Washington Rhodes. The first meeting of the Auxiliary of the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter was Saturday afternoon, October 3, 1923. The ladies were entertained by Mrs. George Hunter at the home of Mrs. Tamlin Powell. Charter Officers: “Mesdames” George Carry, President, E. Washington Rhodes, Vice President, Harry Ashley, Treasurer, William Whiteman, Secretary, E. Washington Rhodes, Corresponding Secretary, and John M. Marques, Chairman of Executive Committee.

(Note: The ladies were addressed as “Mrs.” and their husbands' name.) Thus, the “Auxiliary of Philadelphia” was the first Silhouettes Chapter. Other local “Auxiliary” chapters were organized in cities through the United States. However, they were not organized at the national level for conclaves.

(Pictured above: Silhouettes Bergner Searles, Tanya Johnson, Anita Green)

In 1947, during the conclave held in Los Angeles, a group of ladies decided that an organized formal program would add to their enjoyment while they were at conclaves with their husbands. They organized and called themselves the Silhouettes of Kappa Alpha Psi. They were recognized as a national adjunct of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. 

In 1980, under the leadership of Grand Polemarch Oliver S. Gumbs, the Silhouettes were recognized as an official auxiliary to the fraternity. To acknowledge this status, the National Silhouette President sits on the national board of directors of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Philadelphia has had the distinction of having several Silhouettes serve as national officers. The immediate past National President Linda W. Meade is a member of our chapter. The current National President is Mrs. Gwendolyn M. Miller of Tampa, Florida. 

Silhouette Bergner Searles reflects on our major fundraiser, the Silhouettes Luncheon and Fashion Show as it was “back in the day” and its current format. “I was on the Committee for our first Silhouettes Luncheon (1950). It was a card party held at the Kappa House on Belmont Avenue. After several card parties, the group decided to have fashions. One year our luncheon was in South Philadelphia. That weekend there was a huge snow storm. The only transportation was the subway or El. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. We had our usual crowd. Another luncheon I remember was held at the Flamingo on Broad Street. The Committee prepared and served the food. The tall, glamorous Silhouettes presented the Fashion Show. It was at this luncheon that we ran out of food. We had to go to the nearest deli for more food. Each year, we moved to a larger place to accommodate our guests as their numbers grew. We finally ended up in Frankford at the Four Chefs. (Hess Brothers of Allentown, PA did the fashions for many years. Four Chefs and Hess Brothers are out of business.) Our Committee then was Chairperson Peggy Branch with members Blanche Wilson, Catherine Webster, Loretta Canty, and me, Bergner Searles. This Committee served for five years. It was here that we reached our peak of 1,300 guests. We almost ran out of seats. We were known at that time for our many door prizes and gifts (which we still do).

(Pictured above: Vice President Laura Walker, Honoree Bergner Searles, President Anita Green.)

Several Silhouettes were Avon ladies. They supplied numerous boxes of samples and gifts. In those days, most stores gave gifts, also. When the establishment closed, we tried several venues, and finally, we relocated to our current location, Penns Landing Caterers.” Bergner Searles is 92 years old, still active with the chapter, and will be honored at the Silhouettes Luncheon and Fashion Show on Saturday, March 13, 2010. 

The Philadelphia Kappa Silhouettes of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. are organized to support local, provincial, and national initiatives of the organization. Our unofficial motto is “working together works”. Through the years, the Silhouettes have worked diligently to raise funds to support programs for ourselves, the Kappas, and the community at large. Some of the recipients of our proceeds have been the Kappa Achievement Academy, Kappa Scholarship Fund, Kappa Foundation, African American Museum, Diabetes Assoc., Emma Minott Walk for Multiple Myeloma, Evelyn Payne Scholarship of the Northeastern Province, Sickle Cell Assoc. of Phila., Urban Education Fund, St. Barnabas Home, Methodist Home, Lupus Foundation, Freedom Theatre, Morgan Alumni Assoc., Lincoln Alumni Assoc., public schools in Philadelphia, and stipends to young ladies to pursue college goals.

We meet the third Sunday of each month from Sept. to Nov. and Jan. to May. We extend an invitation to local area Kappa wives to be active in our chapter. We have a holiday brunch in December and a Silhouettes and Kappas June Social. We have a cruise the alternating years we do not have a Kappa Konclave. In 2010, we are cruising. In 2011, we will see you at the 100 th anniversary of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. 

2009 – 2010 Officers: President Anita Green, Vice President Laura Walker, Acting Secretary Thelma Silvers, Asst. Recording Secretary Arlene Kane, Corresponding Secretary Sharritha Thigpen-Wyatt, Financial Secretary Marie Simpkins, Treasurer Patricia Williams, Asst. Treasurer Vivistine Baylor, Chaplain Janet Latta, Parliamentarian Beatrice Goodwin, Sgt. At Arms Barbara Stallworth, Journalist Patricia Kendall, and Nominating Chair Bertha Walker. Coordinating ticket sales: Gwendolyn Goodwin, Tanya Johnson, and Janet Latta. Advance chance sales: Ruth Gaskins. 

2009 – 2010 Membership: Dr. Ann Adderley Ricks, Diane Anderson, Mary Barnes, Vivistine Baylor, Kathryn Bazemore, Claire Latta Burris, Dorothy Canty, Loretta Canty, Anne Chain, Gretrude Crawley, Karen Dean, Joy Dudley, Ruth Gaskins, Beatrice Goodwin, Gwendolyn Goodwin, Anita Green, Bettye Hollimon, Gwen Holloway, Patricia Horton, Gwynne Hoye, Jacquelyn Jackson, Tanya Johnson, Gloria Jones, Sandie Jordan-Gordon, Arlene Kane, Harriett Keith, Patricia Kendall, Janet Latta, Ethel Malone, Mary Helen Mannings, Linda Meade, Julia Reid, Elizabeth Rivers, Dorothy Rush, Bergner Searles, Thelma Silvers, Marie Simpkins, Barbara Stallworth, Sharritha Thigpen-Wyatt, Michelle Thompkins, Elizabeth Thompson, Yvonne Tilghman, Eloise Vaughn, Betha Walker, Laura Walker, Catherine Webster, Mattie Wesley, Juanita White, Claudia Williams, Edith Williams, Patricia Williams, Vivian Willin.

(Pictured on left: Silhouette Gretrude Crawley, 50 year member)