Dressed in a lovely shade of light pink with a crown placed like royalty upon her perfectly coiffed hair, Ophelia Pinkard was recently honored at a celebration that recognized her 75 years of active service in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
With her adoring husband, John H. Pinkard, Jr., by her side, Pinkard and more than 65 members from the Arlington-Alexandria chapter of AKA (Zeta Chi Omega) and a host of family and friends took a stroll down memory lane.
Pinkard was initiated into the sorority in April 1935 in Chi Chapter at Talladega College, Talladega, Ala., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in romance languages.
When she was initiated into the sorority, AKA members were working on the Mississippi Health Project – vaccinating thousands against smallpox and diphtheria.
“When she was initiated, the organization was in its infancy and there were so many challenges in our country – segregation for example. It’s hard to comprehend how much she has seen throughout her lifetime,” Zeta Chi Omega President Michelle Jones said. “It warms my heart to think about her dedication and love for our sorority. She is a wealth of knowledge, and I was overwhelmed with joy as I listened to her talk about the sorority and all that she has done. It is all so amazing.”
Pinkard has been an extremely active member of Zeta Chi Omega. She served as the chapter’s president in 1960. In this role, she inspired countless members to reach for the stars. One of them is Lula Lang-Jeter. Lang-Jeter has been in the sorority for more than 50 years.
During the celebration, Pinkard was presented a certificate and a congratulatory letter from the International President of AKA and resolutions from Zeta Chi Omega Chapter and the Mid-Atlantic regional director. She also received a certificate of recognition and appreciation from the county executive of Montgomery County.
“I had the honor and pleasure of presenting Mrs. Pinkard with a special pin from our corporate office commemorating her 75 years of service,” said Starr Garrett, co-chairwoman of Zeta Chi Omega’s committee that recognizes it members who have been in the sorority for 25 years or more. She and co-chairwoman Cassandra Borden, along with their committee, planned the event. “I am so honored to be able to witness history,” Starr said.
On display at the event were some of Pinkard’s most treasured possessions, including her AKA scrapbook, her sorority pins, and the crown she received when she celebrated her 50th year in the sorority in 1986.
Guests were treated to another special surprise. “We were blessed to have another AKA in the room who has celebrated more than 75 years in the sorority,” said Garrett. “Mrs. Eloise Smith was also initiated in Chi Chapter at Tallageda College where the two were classmates.” The two AKAs, with more than 150 years of service, have managed to maintain their friendship.
Pinkard was all smiles during the festivities and took the time to speak with everyone. “I have enjoyed every minute of being with Alpha Kappa Alpha,” she said.
At one point during the celebration, Pinkard was overheard telling one of her sorority sisters, “I never thought I would live to see this day. Nothing can top this.”
Katrina Moss and Starr Garrett contributed to this article.