Our Illuminating History: Gwen Frostic, Alpha

It’s Women’s History Month and we’re spotlighting influential women in our Sorority’s history who demonstrated Illuminate competencies.

A woman who is genuine is grounded in her values and beliefs. She is willing to change as she grows, but only if that change is felt within and authentic to her true self. Being truly genuine enhances others’ trust, reliance, and belief in her. Gwen Frostic was such a woman – an environmentalist, author, lecturer, and nature artist who joined Alpha Sigma Tau’s first chapter in the 1920’s at what is now Eastern Michigan University.

Gwen overcame struggles with an unknown illness similar to cerebral palsy, and in 1964, opened her own studio and store in Benzonia, Michigan – which is still open today. There, she stuck to her values to become the artist she aspired to be. She knew that her creations wouldn’t suit everyone’s tastes, and was fine with that. But she drew people to her by being true to herself – direct, talented, and magnetic.

She continues to inspire Sisters today, including Tara Walker Gross, Zeta Tau. “As someone whose core beliefs and values have evolved with time and education, learning about the amazing work done by Gwen Frostic has truly encouraged me in my own pursuits,” Tara says.”Gwen was a woman who had many of her own hurdles to overcome but did so with grace and authenticity. She used both her education and life experiences to not just grow as a person, but to give back to her community, all the while remaining direct and genuine. This is not always an easy balance to accomplish, but doing so allowed Gwen to live the type of happy and fulfilling life to which we all aspire.”

Gwen passed away peacefully in 2001, one day before her 95th birthday. Ever the poet, she had long before written her own epitaph: “Here lies one doubly blessed. She was happy and she knew it.”

Fun facts:

May 23 is officially Gwen Frostic Day in Michigan.

She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986.

Her other alma mater, Western Michigan University, named their art school the Gwen Frostic School of Art in her honor.

Learn more about Gwen here.