The P.E.O. Star

Frazier Cemetery, Harrison County, Iowa

Ordinarily a post like this would attempt to unlock the mystery of the marker.  In this case, the letters P.E.O. are to remain a secret, the members of the organization are not to devulge what the letters stand for.  After some research on several Websites and blogs several theories were floated.  One blogger wrote that her mother’s P.E.O. meetings were on Wednesday nights and because her father had to cook on those nights, her father handily nicknamed the organization “Papa Eats Out“.  Other bloggers suggested less tongue-in-cheek names, such as, “Protect Each Other” and “People Educating Others“.

Though the meaning of the letters isn’t clear, what is known is that P.E.O is a philanthropic educational organization that was founded by seven Iowa Wesleyn College women students–Mary Allen Stafford, Ella Stewart, Alice Bird Babb, Hattie Briggs Bousquet, Franc Roads Elliott, Alice Virginia Coffin, and Suela Pearson Penfield–at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, on January 21, 1869.  P.E.O was the second sorority established in the United States. 

P.E.O. has grown to 250,000 members with chapters around the United States and Canada now headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.  The P.E.O. International Website lists six endeavors that the organization funds, as their Website states, to help “women reach for the stars“.   

P.E.O. funds the Educational Loan Fund for women who need financial assistance; International Peace Scholarship for women from around the world pursuing an higher education degree who want to study in the United States or Canada; Program for Continuing Education to provide need-based grants to women the who have had their education interrupted and are returning to support themselves and their families; Scholar Awards to provide merit-based scholarships for women pursuing doctorial degrees or post-doctoral research; Star Scholarships which grants $2,500 awards to graduating women on their way to college; and Cottey College, a liberal arts college established by P.E.O in 1927, at Nevada, Missouri.

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6 Responses to The P.E.O. Star

  1. Carol Holland says:

    We are trying to continue the tradition of putting this type of marker out on the graves of our deceased members over Memorial Day celebrations. We are having difficulty finding a place to produce a this metal-type of foundry produced memorial. If anyone knows where this type of grave marker can be produced, we would like information.

    • Carol,

      I think a company called CenTec might be worth a try. Their address is: 501 Knapp Street, Fremont, OH 43420, telephone number: 419-355-1414. They have a wide variety of metal markers on display and I think from what I can tell about their Website, they do custom work.

      Their Website says, “At CenTec Cast Metal Products, we consider ourselves to be producers of the finest quality bronze markers, aluminum grave markers, commemorative and dedication plaques, the Smith-Cornell offering of historic and National Registry Plaques, and up and coming assortment of address plaques and a wide variety of top quality flags and accessories. In keeping with our own standard of excellence, we are continuously expanding our offering of bronze and aluminum products to better serve our customers. As an added advantage to our services, we have the in-house ability to design and produce custom markers specific to our customer’s needs and specifications.

      We are capable of designing and producing plaques and markers to meet your specifications. From custom markers to large architectural and dedication plaques, we can meet any need, any size, and for any location.

      CenTec offers flags and poles to meet both your indoor and outdoor needs-from standard grave marker flags to large commercial flags. We also offer state, POW and custom flag designs. Along with our extensive line of flags we offer flag poles, hardware and a variety of accessories.”


    • Marilyn Miller says:

      I, too am trying to find a place that produces a PEO grave marker to put at the headstones of our members. If you know of one please let me know where and the cost. Thanks. Marilyn Miller

  2. Dalene says:

    You may contact to order for $45

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