The End Was Only The Beginning
SWEETHEART OF SIGMA CHI
After one year at the University of Tennessee, I transferred to the Universityof Chattanooga. Mary Alice would do the same after her own freshman
year at UT. I pledged Sigma Chi fraternity in the spring of 1965 and went
active in the fall. Although my college life was interrupted by Army Reserve
basic training and military service for six months, I did remain active in the fraternity and returned to finish my studies at UC. Mary Alice was elected Sweetheart of Sigma Chi in 1968, and this honor would become a part of
our enduring connection. Every good Sigma Chi wants to be married to the fraternity Sweetheart.
We attended many parties, social functions and college events together but
never really dated. Still, I had a fondnessfor Mary Alice all the way
through college. She was lively, fun to be around and always looked like
she’d just stepped off a magazine cover. Her wardrobe was impeccable, and as the decades passed her flair for fashion never waned.
Mary Alice’s first job once she graduated from the University of
Chattanooga was with the Tennessee Welfare Department, as a social
worker. She was assigned a territory north of Chattanooga that included
Birchwood, Ooltewah, Cleveland and other small East Tennessee towns.
While the details of her first job are a bit scarce, one thing is certain: At
the age of 22, the passionately committed Mary Alice Howell was making
good on her lifelong commitment to help others.
The next, and most significant, step in M.A.’s work life was to move from Chattanooga to Atlanta, where she would take the position of Admissions
Counselor and Recruiter at Oglethorpe University. The year was 1971, and
her multifaceted professional career would span more than three decades.
Mary Alice was a dedicated and loyal employee, working tirelessly
regardless of the institution or task.
Like many new college graduates in Atlanta, she lived in an apartment withfellow singles. But it was at Oglethorpe that she met Kay MacKenzie, hired in 1971 as Dean of Women and later as Dean of Students. They formed a
lasting friendship, and Kay and her husband Craig saw Mary Alice through the birth of a daughter divorce, cancer and even “mother-in-lawhood.”