When Katherine Desloge was crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty at the Veiled Prophet Ball, it was more than just a happy night for her. It also was the culmination of a family tradition of community involvement that goes back more than 100 years.
“I’ve volunteered at the ball since I joined the organization back in the ’80s, and it has always been fun,” said her father, Steve Desloge, before the event. “You see so many people from all walks of life—in business, government, academics and nonprofits. It’s really a great melting pot, and one of the great things about the organization is how the diversity is really expanding. This year it will be extra-special because my daughter is walking, and I’m sure we’re going to be in tears.”
Steve Desloge is a member of the fifth generation of the Desloge family since the family came to America in 1823, and says his predecessor, James Franciscus, was the family’s first member of the Veiled Prophet organization back in the early 1900s. Since then, the extended family—which has as many as 10 branches—has been honored with at least two queens, as well as several special maids. Among them were Desloge’s grandmother, Marian Franciscus, who was crowned queen in 1919; his mother, Marian Franciscus Falk, who was a special maid; and his sister, Marian Lindsay, was who also a special maid and flew in from Wichita, Kan., for this year’s event.
Desloge recalls the year his sister walked as one of the most memorable balls he’s attended. “It was in Kiel, and I’ll never forget attending when I was 16 or 17 with my family. I had no idea what to expect, and the theatrical splendor in Kiel Auditorium was really something. I had no clue she was going to be a special maid—my parents knew, but they kept it a close secret from everyone else.”
For the family, the VP Organization always has been about something much beyond the ball, however, Desloge notes. Family members, including his father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather all viewed it as an opportunity to be involved in community service, which is one of the organization’s key tenets. “My father (Taylor Desloge) passed away in February, and I did his eulogy, and the first thought that came to my mind was how he emphasized (community service),” he says. “I remember when I got my first job out of college, I thought he’d be excited. But he immediately said, Now you’ve got to figure out how to do things to be supportive of the community in ways that complement your career. It was very important to him.”
To pass on that family tradition, Katherine and her father attended VP-sponsored community service projects at places like Rainbow Village, Beyond Housing and Brightside St. Louis in the lead-up to her debut, he says. “I’ve impressed on her that the real reason for the ball is to celebrate becoming a young woman and a contributing member of the community—it’s learning to be an adult. It helps her keep in perspective how fortunate she is, and to learn to give back.”