Thank You Heroes! And Your Chance to be a Hero

Imagine being sent home early from school on Monday. Then imagine leaving home to find shelter from the fires engulfing your town. And then imagine yourself waking on Tuesday to find that you no longer have a home because it was consumed by fire. You own nothing but what  you took with  you as you hastily left for shelter.

More than 100 students and staff at the Pi Beta Phi Elementary School in Gatlinburg are living that reality. It’s 22 days before Christmas and this will be a different Christmas for them than any of the ones celebrated previously. If you can, please forgo giving one or two gifts and instead send a donation to the Pi Beta Phi PTA Student/Staff Fund, P.O. Box 4717, Sevierville, TN 37864.

Although the school is named for Pi Beta Phi, it is in no way connected to the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, save for the donation of the land upon which the school sits. The property was where the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School opened in Gatlinburg in 1912. Pi Beta Phi deeded the land to the school system and the original name has been maintained to honor the school’s history.

Dolly Parton grew up in Sevier County, the county in which Gatlinburg is located, and is one of its greatest champions. She and her Dollywood Foundation have set up “My People Fund.” In a video message she said, “We want to provide a hand up to all those families that have lost everything in the fires.” The Dollywood Foundation will provide $1,000 a month to the families who have lost their homes in the fires. “I know it has been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help.”


Thanks go to all of those who put their lives on the line to save people and property. I would bet the farm that the Sigma Chi in this picture was not to only fraternity man involved in the efforts.  And notice that the men are napping on concrete, not the  most comfortable of bedding. I, for one, and I know I am not alone in this, am grateful for your efforts and service.


© Fran Becque,, 2016. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Fran Favorite | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gatlinburg on My Mind

Everything I know about Gatlinburg I learned because of Pi Beta Phi. Having the opportunity to visit Arrowmont while serving as a Pi Phi volunteer made the story of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School come alive to me on my visits. My heart breaks for all those affected by the quick moving and deadly wildfires of Monday night.

Things can be replaced; people can’t be. A life lost is the ultimate sorrow, and I don’t want to negate that by mourning the loss of dormitory space and a maintenance shed at Arrowmont.  Hughes Hall was dedicated during the 1995 Pi Phi Arts Weekend. While in the planning stages, it was called Heritage Hall. When University of Louisville Pi Phi Margaret Elkin Hughes left her estate to Arrowmont, a new name emerged. Two wings of Hughes Hall were named for past Pi Beta Phi Grand Presidents – Marianne Reid Wild, who left Arrowmont part of her estate, and Jean Wirths Scott. Jean, in addition to serving as NPC Chairman, spearheaded the successful Campaign for Arrowmont in partnership with Pi Beta Phi Foundation, to fund Hughes Hall, a new woodturning studio among other things.

This photo from the groundbreaking for Hughes Hall was in a stack of photos that I am using in a project Im working on.

This photo from the groundbreaking for Hughes Hall was on my dining room table in a stack of photos I am using in a current project. C.A. Edwards, Jo Ann Roderick and Sandy Blain took part in the ceremony during Officer’s Workshop 1994.

A photo taken by my daughter when we stayed at Hughes Hall a few years ago.

A photo taken by my daughter when we stayed at Hughes Hall a few years ago.


Bill May, whose pictures from early Tuesday mornings were posted on Facebook and assured us that the reports about Arrowmont being destroyed were false, did a phone interview with the Weather Channel. Despite the repetitive roll of pictures, it was good to hear him talk about the school ( I’m also glad to know that his house was left untouched and that he can lead Arrowmont through its travails without dealing with his own.


Hughes Hall after the fire with the Wild Wing in the foreground (at least this is how I see it.)

Hughes Hall after the fire with the Wild Wing in the foreground (at least this is how I see it.) Photo by Bill May.


Although Arrowmont is only a few feet off the Parkway in Gatlinburg, it is almost like being transported to another time and place. I know Arrowmont will survive the loss of Hughes Hall. Arrowmont is a very special place. I encourage any artist or budding artist to take a class, send a donation, or buy a t-shirt ( I sent a donation on Tuesdav (

To read more about the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School and Arrowmont, see The grant project digitized items from the Arrowmont and Pi Beta Phi archives to tell the story of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School and the establishment of Arrowmont. Marie Maddox’s book A Lifetime in Gatlinburg: Martha Cole Whaley Remembers ( offers a glimpse of the changes which took place in Gatlinburg when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established.



As for donations to help the citizens of Gatlinburg, on Giving Tuesday, I made a small donation to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. I am waiting for directions from my friends on the ground as to where donations will be best. However, I will mention that as I clicked on this link, and heard the words of the song, I burst into tears. Be forewarned (

I have no doubt the citizens of Sevier County will get to work and make life normal again. They come from hardy stock and they will rise above the devastation and heartbreak. I, for one, will be praying for them, and doing what I can from afar.

Pi Beta Phi Elementary School is adjacent to Arrowmont. It, too, was thought to be destroyed at first reports, but it is in tact, although it make have sistained some minor damage on the back side from some reports (blown out windows).

Pi Beta Phi Elementary School is adjacent to Arrowmont. It, too, was thought to be destroyed at first reports, but it is intact, although it make have sustained minor damage on the back side from some reports (blown out windows).


© Fran Becque,, 2016. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest


Posted in Fran Favorite, Pi Beta Phi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Gatlinburg and the Fires

Words escape me this morning. The fires in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains National Park are heavy in my heart. A recent post here highlighted Gatlinburg. Libbie, the Ring Ching Roadshow car, and her driver Daphney made a stop in Gatlinburg. They visited Arrowmont, the wonderful arts and crafts school which had its beginnings as the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School, and they made an appearance at Pi Beta Phi Elementary School, the school named in honor of the fraternity’s early efforts at educating the local children.

A view of Gatlinburg as it looked to May Lansfield Keller in the early 1910s.

A view of Gatlinburg as it looked to May Lansfield Keller in the early 1910s.

Two Facebook friends have been keeping me posted about the situation at Arrowmont and Pi Beta Phi Elementary. According to Bill May, Executive Director (Extraordinaire, in my book!), all the buildings with the exception of Hughes Hall and the Wild Wing, named for Pi Beta Phi’s former Grand President, Marianne Reid Wild, survived the fires. I, along with other Pi Phi officers who were at Officers’ Workshop that year, were at the groundbreaking of Hughes Hall. I had many conversations with old friends on the porch. On the second floor, the only quilt square I ever completed, on behalf of the Southern Illinois Alumnae Club, was displayed on a quilt made by Pi Phi alumnae clubs and chapters.


Another Pi Phi friend who has connections on the ground, has stated that Pi Beta Phi Elementary is safe, despite media reports to the contrary. She said, “the building still stands with only cosmetic damage to the very back due to the heat from the fire.” She knows and I believe her.  I remember the first night I met her during a reception in the library of Pi Beta Phi Elementary School when she was not yet a Pi Phi. Although it seems quaint to say, I am grateful to say that we share the wine and silver blue, and that she is a dear Pi Phi sister brings tears to my eyes right now.

Photo of Pi Beta Phi Elementary added noon CST 11/29/2016, taken earlier this morning by someone on the scene in Gatlinburg.

Photo of Pi Beta Phi Elementary added noon CST 11/29/2016, taken earlier this morning by someone on the scene in Gatlinburg.

I am grateful to the firefighters who worked ceaselessly to keep the buildings and people safe. Knowing the spirit of the people in Gatlinburg, they will take stock of the situation, make plans, get to work, and make life normal again. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

And on this Giving Tuesday, I ask that you visit and make a donation. Or send a check to Arrowmont, 556 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. 

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Pi Beta Phi | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Giving Tuesday, Gilmore Girls, and the DAR

Last Tuesday at Rotary, I presented a program about the projects the club has done over the years to inform some of the newer members who might not know. It was also my turn to do a “Getting to know ourselves” question and answer.

I had a quick answer to “What would you do if you had unlimited funds” That was an easy one. I’d start a foundation and fund causes I believe in. Unlimited funds are not in my future, but I can still fund causes I believe in. Giving Tuesday is tomorrow. Instead of large amounts with lots of zeros, my contributions will be small but heartfelt.

The contribtuibs

The contributions my Alpha Gamma Delta friend Nann is sending to arrive on Giving Tuesday or thereabouts.


The Circle of Sisterhood ( be one of the first donations I make. The Circle of Sisterhood’s mission is to “leverage the collective influence of sorority women to raise financial resources for entities around the world that are removing educational barriers for girls and women facing poverty and oppression.”


On Friday, I binge watched the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It was like visiting an old friend, and starting where we last left off. There was a big void with the death of the Gilmore patriarch, Richard Gilmore. He was so aptly played by  Edward Herrmann, a Phi Kappa Psi, who died on December 31, 2014 (see

Edward Herrmann (Photo courtesy of Bucknell University)

Edward Herrmann (Photo courtesy of Bucknell University)

I adore Kelly Bishop who plays Emily Gilmore, the matriarch. She originated the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line, a show I saw first on Broadway in the late 1970s. She won a Tony for that role. She was also “Baby” Houseman’s mother in Dirty Dancing.

One of her scenes reminded me of another question I answered at the Rotary meeting. “Tell us something no one knows about you.” I mentioned that I was the daughter of an immigrant and for all intents and purposes, I am a first generation American. I will never be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Emily Gilmore’s DAR membership plays prominently in one of the seasonal episodes. The scene is a funny one, but just as I cringe when a fraternity “ritual” is enacted on the big and small screen, this was an inaccurate portrayal of the DAR. 

In the scene, a trophy wife, the third or fourth of a Connecticut tycoon, is being grilled by a tribunal of matrons in Chanel suits. The applicant is questioned on a number of topics, regarding her qualifications for membership in Emily Gilmore’s chapter of the DAR. None of the questions had anything to do with the way women can become members of the DAR. Any woman “18 years or older-regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background-who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership” in the DAR, according to the website. A husband’s lineage had nothing to do with his wife’s eligibility for membership. Membership is dependent on the ancestor and connection to the Revolutionary War. 

The president of the DAR chapter here in town is an acquaintance of mine. The last time I ran into her at the grocery store, she had on her muck boots because she runs an organic farm and had just come from working in the gardens. I checked the Illinois chapter website and there are DAR chapters throughout the state in large and very small towns. Just as cinematic portrayals of fraternity life are far from true, so goes this depiction of the DAR. As much as I enjoyed the scene as it related to Emily Gilmore’s behavior, I couldn’t help but be disappointed at the way the DAR was portrayed. 

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Fran Favorite | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day in Common for Phi Sigma Sigma, Kappa Alpha Society, and Sigma Alpha Mu

Phi Sigma Sigma was founded at Hunter College on November 26, 1913. Its original name was Phi Sigma Omega, but it was discovered that the name was already in use. Its founders are Lillian Gordon Alpern, Josephine Ellison Breakstone, Fay Chertkoff, Estelle Melnick Cole, Jeanette Lipka Furst, Ethel Gordon Kraus, Shirley Cohen Laufer, Claire Wunder McArdle, Rose Sher Seidman and Gwen Zaliels Snyder.

Phi Sigma Sigma founders

Phi Sigma Sigma founders

Phi Sigma Sigma became international in 1930 with the founding of its Upsilon chapter at the University of Manitoba. The University’s second female architecture graduate was a Phi Sigma Sigma, Evelyn Blankstein; she was born on March 5, 1913. Her father was an architect and that may have influenced her choice of major at the University of Manitoba. In addition to being a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, she was a talented athlete in the 1930s when athletic opportunities for women were limited. She was even named Woman Athlete of the Year while at the University. 

Blankstein was the only female to graduate in architecture that year and she was the first Jewish woman in Manitoba to earn a bachelor’s of architecture. She served her chapter officially as social chairman and generally as a good spirit and chapter cheerleader.


Blankstein spent her career as an architect, “when there were few if any women in a profession that was considered a male preserve — for close to 40 years, first in her brother Cecil’s office and then for Hobbs Glass (later Canadian Pittsburgh Industries) where she designed and facilitated the use of architectural glass for stores, movie theatres, offices and factories designed in the architectural offices of Winnipeg,” according to her obituary.

She was one of the first women golfers with a full membership at the Glendale Golf Club; it allowed her to golf with the men. She was a competitive Duplicate Bridge player, earning Life Master status. The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba administers an Evelyn Blankstein Athletic Assistance Fund for area young people.


Kappa Alpha Society is the oldest of the Union Triad, the three fraternities founded at Union College in Schenectady, NY.  It was established in 1825 by nine men, John Hart Hunter, Thomas Hun, Isaac W. Jackson, John McGeoch, Orlando Meads, James Proudfit, Joseph Anthony Constant, Arthur Burtis, Jr., and Joseph Law. Its second chapter was founded at Williams College in 1833. A total of 13 chapters have been chartered; nine of those chapters are currently operating. Four of those nine chapters are in Canada. Two are the dormant chapters are also located in Canada. My rudimentary math skills detect what is likely the largest percentage of Canadian chapters among men’s fraternities.


Sigma Alpha Mu was founded on  November 26, 1909 at the City College of New York. Its eight founders first met at a meeting of the sophomore class. Its founders are Lester Cohen, Hyman Jacobson, Adolph I. Fabis, Samuel Ginsburg, Abram N. Kerner, Jacob Kaplan, Ira N. Lind, David D. Levinson. 

Sigma Alpha Mu founders

Two years later, a second chapter was established at Cornell University, quickly followed by chapters at Long Island University and Columbia University. The SAM chapter at Syracuse University was founded in 1913. It was SAM’s seventh chapter.

Syracuse football great, Ernie Davis, was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu chapter at Syracuse. In addition to being the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, and the first African-American to be picked first overall in the NFL draft, he was the first African-American to become a member of Sigma Alpha Mu. Sadly, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962 and died in May 1963 at the age of 23. He never played in a professional football game. 

The Ernie Davis statue at Syracuse University.

The Ernie Davis statue at Syracuse University.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Sigma Sigma, Sigma Alpha Mu, Syracuse University, Union College | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Here’s the Story of a Lovely Lady” – Florence Henderson, Delta Zeta

“Here’s the story of a lovely lady” can only mean one thing – The Brady Bunch. Carol Brady, the All-American mom, was played by Florence Henderson. Although she began her career on Broadway, she is mainly known for her role as Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch.

She was an alumna initiate of Delta Zeta’s Alpha Chi Chapter at the University of California – Los Angeles. On the FAQ (frequently asked questions) part of her website, she included this question and answer:

Are you really a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority?
I am an honorary member of Delta Zeta. They do a lot of work for the House Ear Institute and the hearing impaired and so do I, so it was a good match. I was never an officer or an active member of the sorority.

 Henderson died in a Los Angeles hospital on Thanksgiving Day,  November 24, 2016. Condolences to her family, friends and Delta Zeta sisters.


© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Delta Zeta | Leave a comment

Giving Thanks for You All and More!

On this day for giving thanks, I offer my heartfelt gratitude to all you kindred spirits who read this blog. You have my sincere gratitude. 

I’ve had a person or two ask me if writing about organizations other than my own made me disloyal to the organization to which I pledged my time, talents, and treasures (and, no, that is not how it’s worded, but I think the vows of all our organizations boil down to something akin to this – be an exemplary citizen and member.) While I love Pi Phi as I love my own offspring, the other groups, are to me, like my nieces and nephews. I would go to bat for any of them. And I would admonish them, if need be; bad behavior doesn’t get a free ride because they are family. But the bottom line is that they are my people.

The non-GLO (Greek-letter Organization) world doesn’t know the difference between any of our groups, so to the rest of the world we are one big entity. And since it is usually the negative news they hear, their impression of us is not very good. By highlighting the good in all of our organizations, and the rich history of GLOs, I hope I am helping bring positive understanding to our organizations. I also hope I am helping to educate collegiate members about their organization and the ones with which they think they are in competition. There is no sense competing with ourselves when the world does not think that favorably of us. We need to work together, congratulate each other, hold each other accountable, and work for the greater good.

Thank you for reading this, telling others about the blog, and presenting me with opportunities to write and talk about our history. You are a wonderful audience!



Happy 90th Birthday, a few days late, to the original Gerber Baby, Ann Turner Cook! She is a member of the Southern Methodist University chapter of Pi Beta Phi.


As a member of Mortar Board

As a member of Mortar Board

Ann Turner Cook

Ann Turner Cook


Condolences to the family and friends of Lambda Chi Alpha, Detective Benjamin Marconi, who was killed in the line of duty in San Antonio, Texas, this past Sunday.


© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Beta Phi, Southern Methodist University | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tri Delta’s “Our Louise Fitch” on Thanksgiving Eve

Delta Delta Delta was founded at Boston University on November 27, 1888, which fell on the day before Thanksgiving that year. Tri Delta’s Founders’ Day is celebrated on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Sarah Ida Shaw (Martin) and Eleanor Dorcas Pond (Mann, M.D.) both graduated first from their respective high school classes.

In the fall of 1888, four women seniors, who had not joined any of the women’s fraternities then at Boston University – Kappa Kappa Gamma, Alpha Phi, or Gamma Phi Beta – discussed their situation. Shaw and Pond threw themselves into the details associated with the founding. All was finished by Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, 1888, but the two met again on Wednesday afternoon, before leaving for the holiday. They met in the Philological Library at the top of the college building. Shaw and Pond embraced and said “Tri Delta is founded.”

Shaw and Pond were intent on getting the other two unaffiliated seniors to join their organization. Florence Stewart quickly agreed, but Isabel Breed took a little more convincing due to her highly religious nature. When she was given the job of chaplain, she relented and joined her three friends. Although these two did not take part in the actual formation of Delta Delta Delta as Pond and Shaw had done, the four are considered founders. Soon three juniors pledged allegiance to Delta Delta Delta as well as five sophomores and six freshmen. These women were initiated at the Joy Street home of Emily F. Allen on January 15, 1889.

In 1889, the Epsilon chapter of Delta Delta Delta became the second women’s fraternity at Knox College. Kappa Beta Theta was a local organization founded in 1888 by sisters Patsie and Ola Ingersoll.  Beta Theta Pi had a chapter at Knox College and a Knox Beta told his brother, who was a member of the Beta Theta Pi chapter at Boston University. The Boston University Beta gave the information to his friend, Delta Delta Delta founder Sarah Ida Shaw.  Shaw began correspondence with the Knox College women.  A Tri Delta charter was granted on July 9, 1889.  A member of the Simpson College chapter, Hattie Berry, initiated the chapter in August 1889, at the home of one of the charter members, Alta March.  A reception was held at the Phi Gamma Delta Hall at Knox College. One of the early initiates of the Knox chapter was Rachel Louise Fitch, known to Tri Deltas as R. Louise Fitch, or more lovingly, “Our Louise Fitch.”

Fitch, a woman well ahead of her time, won honors as a student at Knox, she served Tri Delta in many capacities, including Grand President. She was a career woman, too. She was born in Galva, Illinois, a little northwest of Galesburg, Illinois. She died on March 12, 1958 in Tacoma, Washington, and is buried in the cemetery in Galva. I knew about some of her work, but I hadn’t planned on writing about her. However, the more I researched, the more she intrigued me. I will write more about her soon, but this report, as Tri Delta’s first Chapter Inspector made me exhausted just reading it. Think of all the hours she spent on trains and in train stations!

It is quite impossible to give a detailed account of the results of the visits of the first Chapter Inspector for all the information relative to conditions at the time of each visit has been reported simply to the Council and it is thought advisable to keep it in the Council. However a brief account of the trip and the methods employed to obtain desired information may be of interest.

The first Chapter visited was Upsilon at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. This was in May 1905. From there, I went to Columbus, Ohio to visit Nu Chapter, then to Cincinnati, Ohio where Zeta is. At the request of two locals in that vicinity, I visited each of them for several days. In October,  Mu at Madison, Wisconsin, was visited and a petitioning group in that vicinity. In November, I spent several days with Phi at Iowa City, in December with Theta at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. January 8th, 1906, I started west visiting in order Delta at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa, Kappa at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., Lambda at Baker University, Baldwin, Kansas, the Denver Alliance at Denver, Colo., and then took a couple of days rest or at least of change at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Then on to Pi at University of California at Berkeley, Calif., and down to Los Angeles to see the Alliance there. At Pasadena, cares were forgotten for a week in enjoying the mountains and the side trips to the ocean. I reached Galva, Ill., again on March 1st and visited Epsilon, Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., the second week in March.

I started east March 23rd, and visited in order Gamma at Adrian, Mich., Omicron at Syracuse, NY, Beta at Canton, NY, Eta at Burlington, Vt., Alpha at Boston. After a four days rest, I visited Sigma at Wesleyan University at Middletown, Conn., Rho at Barnard College, New York City, Tau at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Penn., Psi at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Xi at Woman’s College Baltimore, Md., and last the youngest chapter Alpha Xi at Randolph Macon Woman’s College, Lynchburg, Va. Left for Galva, Ill. May 25th.

As far as possible four days were spent with each chapter. In that time, at each school, some social affair, tea, reception, card party, or something of the kind was given, at which I was enabled to meet the members of all rival Sororities in the institution. Dinners, drives, theatres, dances, receptions, chafing dish spreads, luncheons, some or all were given at each chapter to enable me to meet all active members and Alumnae, and in some cases gentlemen friends, of each chapter socially. During each visit, a regular chapter meeting and also a regular Alliance meeting where an Alliance existed, were held and regular business conducted in the ordinary way. Every chapter book was examined, plans and policy of chapter characteristics, and strength of rivals, house finances, and methods of meeting bills for house or room for Grand and Chapter dues were discussed. At every school, I was privileged to meet the President or Dean and talk over fraternity affairs. At every institution, except one, I was allowed to obtain the grades for the previous or present year as I chose in some cases for the entire course for each member. In the excepted school, I was informed that no one under any provocation whatsoever could be allowed to ohtain any idea regarding the standing of any student.

In several instances, at the invitation of the Local Pan Hellenic Association, I was asked to talk Pan Hellenic matters with the association and give what ideas I had gathered regarding rules and conditions in other schools. I met the Dean of Women at each school, where such an official exists, at her request, and talked over conditions among the college women and how the sororities might be of service to college authorities in bettering conditions, etc. Every spare moment was spent talking, planning with chapter officers and members, discussing national affairs, hearing troubles, suggesting remedies, planning for everything from keeping books and financing houses to rushing stunts.

At each school, the chapter was urged strongly to do everything possible to promote Pan Hellenic interests and to aid in college organization and interests. Each was urged also to mix wisely social and intellectual accomplishments. In every instance, rival fraternities were delightfully cordial and hospitable. At Madison, Kappa Kappa Gamma, at Lincoln, Kappa Alpha Theta, and at Berkeley, Kappa Alpha Theta, sent invitations to dinner to the chapter house, each of which was happily accepted. A number of Grand Officers of Kappa Alpha Theta, of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delta Gamma, and Chi Omega, were met at various places and the little exchange of experiences was exceedingly enjoyable.

The task of visiting the chapters is not a light one. The social side alone is wearing, though pleasant, and the energy necessary to judge quickly, and fairly ferret out true conditions, be ready with solutions for any kind of problem, to go with but little or no sleep, catch trains at any hour of day or night, etc., this energy expended is incalculable. But if as is hoped, the greater possibilities of usefulness for fraternity members is realized, if system and order prevail, if more enthusiasm is aroused, and interest increased, then the first visiting delegate will feel that the discomfitures and hard work are more than repaid. 

 screenshot-154© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Boston University, Delta Delta Delta, Fran Favorite, Knox College | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

11/22/33, Mildred McCann Balfour, Mrs. Lloyd G., Became a Pi Phi

November 22, 1933, 11/22/33, was hopefully an important and happy one in the life of Mildred McCann Balfour, the wife of Lloyd G. Balfour. On that day, she became an alumna initiate of the Illinois Zeta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi on the campus of the University of Illinois.


Lloyd Garfield “Bally” Balfour, a Sigma Chi from the Lambda Chapter at Indiana University, remains one of his fraternity’s most illustrious members.

Although he earned a law degree, Balfour spent five years as a travelling sales representative for a college fraternity jewelry manufacturer. He was disgusted with the lack of standardization which plagued the industry. Itinerant salesmen peddled substandard jewelry at chapter houses across the country.

On June 13, 1913, Balfour started his company in Attleboro, Massachusetts. That year he also married Ruth DeHass, a Pi Beta Phi from Butler University’s Indiana Gamma Chapter. Pi Beta Phi became his first fraternity account when his company became the official jeweler after a vote of the 1913 Pi Beta Phi Convention. 

Ruth Balfour and her husband visited many Pi Phi chapters selling badges. A talented violinist, she spoke about her musical talents at Pi Beta Phi’s 1918 Charlevoix Convention. Sadly, she died of pneumonia in 1919, six years after their marriage. In 1921, Balfour gave the Balfour Memorial Cup to Pi Beta Phi in his wife’s memory. To this day, the Balfour Cup remains Pi Beta Phi’s top chapter honor.

Balfour re-married in 1921. His bride, Mildred McCann, had once been a student at the University of Illinois. On that date in November of 1933, when his wife became a Pi Phi, Balfour visited Sigma Chi’s Kappa Kappa Chapter while his wife was occupied at the Pi Phi house.

Balfour served as Sigma Chi’s Grand Consul from 1937–39 and helped start its foundation.  He served as National Interfraternity Conference Chairman from 1940–41. Balfour was named a Significant Sig in 1941. During his lifetime he was awarded numerous fraternal honors including the National Interfraternity Conference Gold Medal in 1947. Sigma Chi’s International Balfour Award, established in 1929, is presented to an outstanding graduating senior member who has given of himself to Sigma Chi Fraternity, his campus and his community. He established Sigma Chi’s Balfour Leadership Training Workshop and considered it one of his great projects.

From the first contract with Pi Beta Phi in 1913, more fraternity accounts were acquired. At one point, the company held contracts with 90% of all Greek-letter organizations.  The company soon branched out to schools and multi-year contracts with the schools helped grow business. The company supplied war-time medals during World Wars I and II. It produced press badges for the World Series, recognition award for companies and products for sports champions including Super Bowl rings.

The Balfours were low-key philanthropists. They had no children, but their legacy lives on in the scholarships and projects they continue to fund through their foundation.


Please take a look at the blog written by friend Jane Heiserman, a UCLA Pi Phi. She writes about all sorts of things, lessons that she uses with her 26 year-old autistic, non-verbal, son. Based on my post about Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Kappa Kappa Gamma, they read one of her books, and Jane provides a book review in this latest post.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Fran Favorite | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations on 35 Years Mu Sigma Upsilon! And More

At the bottom of this page is a list of the founding dates for GLOs for the current month. To be honest, my intention early on was to write about each organization on its founding date. I have been somewhat successful for the National Panhellenic Conference organizations, the National PanHellenic Council sororities and somewhat less successful with the other groups. I realized this morning  Mu Sigma Upsilon turns 35 today, and that deserves a shout out.

On November 21, 1981, Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated was founded by five women studying at Rutgers University New Brunswick. The founders of first multicultural sorority are Eve Bracero, Lillian Sierra, Karinee Candelario, Ruth Gonzalez, and Sylvia Vigo.

Today, there are more than 50 chapters, most of them in the northeast. Chapters are not named by Greek letters, but by names of the chapter’s choosing. According to the website,  names are “chosen by their founders for its significance to their story and within the fabric of the organization.”


The National Governing Council Executive Board selects a national philanthropy to support for the Board’s five-year term. To Write Love On Her Arms is Mu Sigma Upsilon’s National Philanthropy for 2016-2021. The mission of To Write Love on Her Arms is “dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.” (See



I’ve been meaning to congratulate two women whose stories were pointed out to me in the last two weeks.

Amal Abdi recently became the first Somali-Canadian recruit to graduate from the Edmonton Police Service academy. She is a member of the Alberta Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi and the University of Alberta.

Amal A

Amal Abdi


A Facebook post by my Chi Omega Archivist friend, Lyn Harris, reminded me that I need to compile the updated list of sorority women serving us in Congress. But until then, I’d be remiss not to mention this.

Stephanie Murphy, a initiate of Chi Omega at the College of William & Mary. Murphy will represent Florida’s 7th Congressional District. She is the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, according to an NBC News article.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Chi Omega, NMGC, Pi Beta Phi | Tagged , , | Leave a comment