By Audrey Muse
Patti Sanders, Chi Omega house mother, has deep roots in Oxford and the University of Mississippi that continue to grow through her service to the community.
Raised in Oxford, Sanders went to college at Ole Miss then moved to Atlanta for nearly 30 years. She has now been back in Oxford for five years, she said.
Her father and two brothers also left a legacy at Ole Miss.
“All three played sports at Ole Miss then continued with athletic careers for the New York Giants and other notable teams,” she said.
Sanders’ father also played football, baseball and basketball for Ole Miss. He then went on to play for the New York Giants.
Poole Drive on campus is named after the Sanders family, and on the corner of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon property, there is a sign with the history of her family. The sign tells about the athletic legacy the family left at Ole Miss.
“I grew up so in (the culture of) Ole Miss. It was such a part of our lives which makes it special,” Sanders said.
Things were very different when she attended school, she said. There was a curfew for those living in the dorms.
“If you did not make curfew you could not stay in the dorm that night,” she said.
Football was just as relevant when Sanders was in school as it is now, but it was celebrated in a different way.
“Each of the fraternity houses had bands so we would walk from house to house all dressed up,” she said. “It was not considered appropriate for girls to “go out” at the time because it could hinder their reputation.”
Sanders said she has enjoyed seeing the physical transformation of Oxford, as well as the University, but also loves to reminisce on “how it used to be.” Sanders said she has many favorite memories from college, but one that sticks out is fall Fridays.
“Every Friday afternoon for lunch there was a big hamburger cookout out on our patio (at Chi Omega) and guests from all over the campus would come. I still remember what it smelled like, those hamburgers cooking,” she said.
Sanders continues to build her Ole Miss legacy as the house mother of Chi Omega.
“I started thinking that my favorite thing in life was being a wife and mother and I thought that being a house mother would be just like that but on steroids,” Sanders said.
More than 400 women belong to the Chi Omega sorority at Ole Miss.
“She knows each of us by name and never fails to remember the small details of our daily life and ask us about them,” Betsy Byrd, current Chi Omega sister, said.
Many of the sisters say Sanders serves as their mother away from home.
“She always makes sure that everyone is okay and doing well. She brings us snacks and decorates the house just as our own parents would for the holidays,” said Chi Omega sister Sydney Turnage.