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Honoring CHL Story

We honor the passing of Past Grand President Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg

Published On: 2014-06-05

It is with deep regret that Pi Beta Phi announces the death of Past Grand President Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg, Ohio Alpha, on May 25, 2014. A great leader and passionate volunteer and sister, Carolyn helped grow the Fraternity as Grand President from 1985 to 1991.

Carolyn grew up in a small Ohio town called Waverly with her parents and two brothers. She attended Ohio University where she received a Bachelors of Science in education and met the love of her life, Joe Lichtenberg, who died too soon. Carolyn and Joe had two daughters, Ohio Zeta Sara Lichtenberg Bloomquist and Ohio Alpha Elizabeth Lichtenberg Geer. For more than 20 years, Carolyn’s beloved companion, Bob Saacke, was at her side.

CHL and DaughtersAs Grand President, Carolyn was a visionary leader guiding the Fraternity forward with the establishment of Pi Beta Phi Foundation in 1990. Thanks to Carolyn's vision, critical programs like leadership development and academic scholarships receive ongoing support through the Foundation. Carolyn also served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and as a cabinet member for The Campaign for Pi Beta Phi Foundation. The endowment campaign raised $6.2 million, exceeding its $6 million monetary goal.

She was also instrumental in the development of the Fraternity’s past national service project, Links to Literacy. The program marked the first time Pi Beta Phi’s literacy work, which began in 1912 at the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, extended to a national focus. The program’s aims continue today through Pi Beta Phi’s philanthropic effort, Read > Lead > Achieve.

One of the most beloved parts of Pi Beta Phi’s biennial convention is the Chapter Banner Parade, a tradition that would not be in existence without Carolyn’s creativity and organization. It took years of planning and work, alongside Kentucky Beta Karen Emberton, to ensure more than 130 collegiate chapters designed and prepared their banners. Those banners are proudly carried across the convention stage today.

Carolyn was a dedicated member of the Board of Governors for Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts for many years. In her role, Carolyn was a pivotal part of the creation of the Pi Phi & Friends Arts Weekend at Arrowmont. The weekend workshop provides Pi Phis the opportunity to gather with friends and sisters for a special reunion while making art in a supportive and inspiring place.

She was the first Grand President to have a professional strategic planner work with Grand Council to ensure the viability and sustainability of the Fraternity. These efforts are the cornerstone of today’s Fraternity infrastructure and established Pi Beta Phi as a premier organization for women.

Upon her retirement as Grand President, Pi Beta Phi created the Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award, which honors distinguished alumnae who exhibit excellence and outstanding leadership in their career or volunteer service to their communities.

In 2011, Carolyn served as Chairman of the Pi Beta Phi Centennial Committee, which planned a celebration honoring the Fraternity’s 100-year commitment to literacy service. Under Carolyn’s leadership, Pi Beta Phi dedicated a plaza in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and hosted a weekend of activities. The celebration included the unveiling of a life-size bronze sculpture of Pi Beta Phi Settlement School’s first Pi Phi teacher, Della “Dell” Gillette Morgan, Illinois Zeta, and her student “Max,” named after Carolyn’s grandson.

A memorial service for Carolyn will be held on Saturday, June 7, in Atlanta, Georgia, at 4 p.m. EST at Peachtree Presbyterian Church
3434 Roswell Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia, 30305. We know many of her Pi Phi sisters, especially those who served alongside Carolyn, will be in attendance. However, many others will be there in spirit only. So we can all have the opportunity to pay tribute to Carolyn's Pi Phi legacy, we encourage you to wear your Pi Beta Phi badge on Saturday, June 7.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Carolyn to Pi Beta Phi Foundation. Memorial gifts can be designated for Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts or for a graduate fellowship that is being established in Carolyn's name. To make a gift, visit www.pibetaphifoundation.org/donate-now, call the Foundation at (636) 256–1357 or mail to Pi Beta Phi Foundation, PO Box 801867, Kansas City, MO 64180, indicating the gift is in memory of Carolyn.

For more information, please view Carolyn’s obituary published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.