In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, the four chapters of Beta Sigma Phi honored their “Sweethearts.”
The annual tradition continued Sunday afternoon when the four chapters – Beta Gamma Psi, Xi Pi Mu, Preceptor Lambda Delta and Xi Alpha Delta Omega – each recognized one woman they consider their sweetheart.
The four chapters rotate host duties each year with Beta Gamma Psi taking on this year’s event. Past First Ladies of Kilgore are invited to join the chapter members and celebrate the women.
The sororities have other recognitions – pledge of the year and girl of the year – that have definitions on which the chapter members vote. Sweetheart is different.
“What is the definition? Really, it’s someone that’s sweet… This is just someone that comes in and they’re just sweet. That’s it,” Beta Gamma Psi President Brandy Henry said.
For Henry, the best part about the Beta Sigma Phi events is the chapters coming together and celebrating each other.
“There is another sorority in Longview that is the same as us, but we’re strictly Kilgore,” she said. “We do everything for Kilgore – all of our money that is raised, all of our service projects – we’re all about Kilgore… Every one of our members is from Kilgore. Every event that we have, it brings all these other Kilgore people together that don’t know each other.”
Lawana Sistrunk, Amber Kinsey, Carolina Bryant and Penny Herrin were selected as this year’s sweethearts.
The first to be presented was Lawana Sistrunk, selected as Preceptor Lambda Delta’s sweetheart.
Mary Estes, last year’s sweetheart, presented Sistrunk who moved back to Kilgore with her husband, Dale, 11 years ago. Together they have five children and 10 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is involved with her sorority, Kilgore Church Women, her church (Forest Home Baptist Church), Kilgore Improvement and Beautification Association and the Evergreen Garden Club.
The Xi Alpha Delta Omega chapter selected chapter president Amber Kinsey as its sweetheart this year and accepted her sash and yellow rose with the help of her granddaughter Kaiya Rae Brisendine, who Kinsey called her sweetheart.
“She truly is a sweetheart. If you have visited with her, she has the sweetest voice and a laugh that’s just contagious. We really enjoy her,” chapter member Marty Nix said.
Kinsey is an associate member of Brother’s Keepers Motorcycle Club and serves as marketing director at East Texas Treatment Center. At ETTC, she helps organize the East Texas Oil Men’s Golf Classic and the East Texas Oilmen’s Chili Cook-Off.
Carolina Bryant, Xi Pi Mu’s sweetheart, was born in Mendoza, Argentina, and moved to the United States at the age of 17 with her parents and siblings. She married Bill Bryant, and they have three children together. A member of St. Luke’s Baptist Church, Bryant is also a consultant with Rodan+Fields. Her hobbies include sailing with her husband, crafting, walking her dogs, gardening and spending time with her family and friends.
The final sweetheart presented Sunday was Penny Herrin, Beta Gamma Psi’s selection. Herrin moved to Kilgore in 2005 when she stated attending Kilgore College and began working at Citizens Bank in 2008. She and her husband, Jed, have two children and attend Bar None Cowboy Church in Henderson.
“She really is just the definition of a sweetheart,” last year’s Beta Gamma Psi sweetheart Jennifer Smith said.
Herrin was selected as Beta Gamma Psi’s pledge of the year in 2016 and is a “diehard” Dallas Cowboys fan.