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Story #011: Perspective: 100-Year-Old Member

In celebration of Alpha Phi’s 150th Anniversary in 2022, we proudly share stories and moments that have created the legacy of sisterhood originally launched by our ten founders and which we still hold dear today.

 This is story 11 of 150. 

Perspective: 100-Year-Old Member

Often, age brings perspective. It also brings the perfect opportunity for celebration. In September of 2019, Jacqueline Thomas Law (Lambda-UC Berkeley) rang in birthday 100 with those that mattered most to her – her family, her friends and her Alpha Phi sisters.

For her 100th birthday party, her family and friends from Maui, Oahu and California gathered at her home for a festive buffet including flower leis and three delicious birthday cakes (lemon, coconut and chocolate) that were baked to form the numbers she was celebrating – 100. The evening was a celebration with multiple generations, and Jacqueline would not have had it any other way. Her greatest achievements, she said, were, “My family – three children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. They all fill my heart with love and joy.” 

Alpha Phi was a significant part of her life, and the alumnae chapter also hosted a celebration for her. They gathered at the Kahala resort and there was a giant photo birthday card from Alpha Phi International Fraternity, along with notes and messages shared from sisters on the mainland and in Honolulu. The event included a champagne toast and 100 magnificent red roses, which Jacqueline later spread around her home to enjoy. Mary Flood (Delta Psi-Wisconsin Oshkosh) and Mary Gourlie Moreno (Delta Kappa-Wisconsin La Crosse) planned the unforgettable festivities.

Born September 28, 1919 to Cecil Temple Thomas and Gladys Jane Thomas, Jacqueline was initiated into Alpha Phi in 1938. “College and Alpha Phi changed my life. It gave me confidence in myself and with my diploma, a greater sense of the world,” she said. “And it gave me a partner in my loving husband, Robert D. Law, Jr., who also attended UC Berkeley as a member of Alpha Delta Phi.”

In the spring of 1941, shortly before she graduated, the athletic department on campus held their week-long celebration. This gave rise to one of Jacqueline’s favorite Alpha Phi memories.

“I was in charge of Lambda’s participation and it was quite a task. We created a float that looked like a ski slope, all ice and snow with our new UC bear mascot, ‘Oskie’ on skis alongside Alpha Phis in ski attire,” she said. The creation of the float was so much fun, Jacqueline recalls, and the work earned the Lambda chapter’s float first prize! “It was all such a joyful, festive occasion with everyone working together to celebrate our school and support each other. I will never forget it. We were so proud of our hard work.”

After college, Jacqueline raised her family and relished the opportunity. Her three children gave her five grandchildren, and she was blessed with five great grandchildren.

In terms of how the Alpha Phi experience evolved over the years, Jacqueline shared that some of the changes have been dramatic. “Sisters are increasingly involved in their community and through community service and professional activities,” she remarked. “Extracurricular activities and experiences abroad while still in college seem to be so much more abundant and fulfilling with many more opportunities available to young women than there used to be.”

Jacqueline remained involved with Alpha Phi long beyond college graduation. Whether through annual Alpha Phi luncheons or scholarship drives, Founder’s Day gathering or a simple visit with sisters, she appreciated the opportunity to catch up with her friends and meet newer members.

Her advice for achieving similar longevity? “Lead a happy, healthy life,” Jacqueline encouraged. “Get involved in community service and organizations. Travel to learn about the world. And stay connected with other folks.”

Sadly, Jacqueline joined the Silent Chapter on June 22, 2020 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is survived by her children Cecily and Kathryn, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren Mike, Greg, Brandon, Carolyn, Jenna, Lyla, James, Rebecca, Ivan and Addi. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert D. Law and son, Robert D. Law III.

Thank you, Jacqueline, for reminding us of the importance of lifelong sisterhood.

PHOTO – Jacqueline Thomas Law (Lambda-UC Berkeley)