TKE Sweetheart History

TKE Sweetheart History

TKE's First SweetheartThe year 1953 provided many important historical events. Some of them are:

  1. The first Chevy corvette was made.
  2. The polio vaccine was created by Dr. Jonas Salk.
  3. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th US President.
  4. The Detroit Lions won the NFL Championship.
  5. Rocky Marciano stayed unbeaten as heavyweight boxing champion (he retained the title for one more year until he retired as the only undefeated boxing champion ever).

In TKE history, 1953 was the first time a TKE International Sweetheart was chosen. Frater Allen Derr (Alpha-Delta, Univ. of Idaho) thought this would be a great way to recognize those women who impact Tekes on a daily basis. The first was decided at the 27th Conclave in Des Moines, Iowa. Former President Ronald Reagan (then an actor in Hollywood) helped determine the nominees that were voted on during the convention. A semi-formal conclave dance was the site for the official crowning. Eligibility at first was limited to those nearby the Conclave destination, but expanded to the entire TKE Nation in the mid-1970s.

The finalists were Janet Strang (a Chi Omega from Coe College), Sally Ann Wright (a Delta Zeta from Drake University) and Joan Crawford (a Delta Zeta at Iowa State College, now university). Crawford was ultimately selected as the inaugural sweetheart of TKE. She studied economics, was active in television and radio on campus, and was queen of the Military Ball in 1953. She later married Frater Jerry Fielding (Epsilon, Iowa State). Joan was also the first women to ever be featured alone on a cover of THE TEKE (Winter 1953).
Since that time 57 young women have been selected to represent the organization as an interfraternal ambassador. The latest installment, Miss Gillian Fontana of NYIT - Manhattan (Upsilon-Mu), keeps a rich history of TKE continuing.
In addition to the selection, a piece of music was written specifically for the contest by Frater Al Rockwell (Alpha-Xi, Drake Univ.) called the ‘Old Sweetheart Song' which was sung and recorded by The Lettermen. The group headed by Frater Tony Butala (Iota-Mu, Univ. of Findlay) recorded the track in 1969 and it has been used to serenade sweethearts at Red Carnation Balls for more than 40 years.

TKE history is vital to understanding what it truly means to be a Frater. Email us what piece of TKE History you're curious about and we'll write an article about it. Check back next month for another installment of this series.

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