Reading and compiling these tributes has been pretty incredible, and I’m so moved by the Tri Sigma women who shared their stories with me. Over the next six days, you won’t just read about six men. You will read about six fathers – the caring men who have shaped the lives of our sisters and friends.
One of the things that most touched me is the impact that a father can have on his daughter – no matter her age or lifestage, if her father is is still alive or no longer with us, these special men make an indelible impression that transcends age.
Women join Tri Sigma with diverse definitions of the word “family.” Some women come to Tri Sigma looking to replicate what they found at home, and some look to Tri Sigma friends to become family. Thanks to each of the 6 women who shared their fathers with us. Many of these men have built relationships with entire chapters, and we know that family support means so much to the chapters who have connections with parents.
My father, Norman Harry Gallaher, Sr., is from New Jersey, so a “Yankee” in essence. He married a Southern woman, and my mother and most of his children [three of us] were born in the South. He called his parents “mom” and “pop” – but he decided he liked the term “daddy” much better. Even at 53, he was still my daddy.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the two of us alone together, not as an adult anyway. Daddy wasn’t one to have his picture taken too much. I do have a family yard photo from when I was fifteen. I’m the dark haired one with the attitude in the picture.
My daddy was the one who said it was important that I go through Rush [what we called formal recruitment in the 70's] and to find the perfect sorority for me to join. He said that I should not join a sorority ”just because,” but join because the sorority was the right one.
We lived less than a block off the edge of campus, so I lived at home. Every night after an event for Rush, I would come home, and Daddy would get out of bed and ask me questions about what had happened that night. He would ask me one simple question; ”What did you think?”
I told him first about Tri Sigma, and then about the other sororities. Each night was exactly the same. Then, it came down to preference, and my father didn’t have to ask me which sorority I was putting first – he didn’t even have to ask if I was putting a second choice. And that’s exactly what the other sorority would have been; second choice.
So, it was my father who suggested I go through Rush, make the right choice, and then he paid for everything. He never asked any questions. If I told him I needed money for something for Tri Sigma, he’d ask what the deadline was, and then got the money to me. I usually had to do some extra chores for the money if it was too much, but that was so I didn’t have a sense of entitlement; he wanted me to learn that I needed to work for what I wanted.
When it came to my badge, our chapter said we had a choice. We could order the badge and chapter guard all at once, or the badge in the beginning of the semester, and then the guard by the beginning of the next semester. Daddy paid for everything right up front. He didn’t want me waiting. Most of the girls just got their badges and then waited on their guards.
My father saw no reason for that. He wanted me to have everything up front, so I was the same as any sister in the chapter.
Thanks for the chance to talk about my father. He’s been dead nine years now and if he was alive, he would be 95. He had children in 30s and 40s, which in his day was almost unheard of, and which now is common, but he told all three of the girls in my family, it didn’t matter if we were girls, we could do anything we wanted to.
Brenda Birch Gallaher
Gamma Mu 197, February 15, 1977
Southeastern Louisiana University