Sharon J. Chapman’s lifelong passion was Delta Sigma Theta, the largest Greek-letter sorority for black women. “She put her whole heart and soul into it — she fell in love with it so much,” said Vicki Chapman, her sister.
Chapman, of Lakeville, died Aug. 13. She was 69.
Friends and family members described her as passionate about public service in her business positions, volunteer work and the sorority she was a member of for 50 years, starting at Southern Illinois University in 1969. She moved to Minneapolis after graduation and assumed a range of alumnae leadership positions, including as vice president and president, with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Alumnae Chapter.
Chapman also served as director of the sorority’s Midwest region and on the national executive board under three presidents.
She was interested in the leadership training that the sorority provided, according to her daughter, Leslie Lee, “and she definitely wanted to use that sorority as a way to help people … become better leaders, whether it was at their chapter level or a national level.”
The organization was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1913, with chapters worldwide. The sorority’s principles are scholarship, sisterhood and public service. It also works to address challenges in black communities.
“She loved the principles of the sorority and lived the principles of the sorority,” Lee said.
Chapman earned an MBA at the University of St. Thomas, where she would later be an adjunct faculty member, and her career included IBM, the Minneapolis Urban League, the Minneapolis Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and the St. Paul Foundation. She also volunteered extensively outside the sorority.
“All of Sharon’s positions were meant to serve, educate, mentor, build and improve the lives of all individuals she encountered — that was her calling,” said Veryle Logan Hudson, a sorority member. “Sharon shared her Scorpio tenacity — her life, love, knowledge, drive, passion and power — with so many of us, and we are all better because of her.”
At the sorority, she said, she was able to get the best out of people and suggest them for volunteer positions. She and other members of Delta Sigma Theta described Chapman as someone with an unparalleled knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order and the proper way to run meetings.
“She was very knowledgeable not only in regards to the sorority’s protocol, [but also] a variety of issues, political and otherwise,” said Brenda Hill, a member of the sorority. “She was a mentor to many people, male and female, based upon her background in business and work with nonprofit organizations. She was a wealth of knowledge in all of those areas.”
She was committed to doing everything by the book, according to Hill.
“When she knew something was not right, she was determined to make it right. … She was really about doing things right and proper and following the law of the organization,” said Hill.
Chapman leaned on her sorority sisters while raising Lee as a single mother.
“She was always very loving, but also very focused on doing things the right way,” her daughter said. “She had a lot of ambition both for herself and also for me as her daughter, and wanted to make sure that whatever [we] participated in, that we were doing it to the highest degree at 100%.”
In addition to her daughter and sister, Chapman is survived by a brother, Wilfried Vaupel. Services have been held.