Sigma Chi was founded on June 28, 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Lloyd Garfield “Bally” Balfour, a Sigma Chi from the Lambda Chapter at Indiana University, remains one of its 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. Other accounts followed, including Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana.
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 November 22, 1933, she became an alumna initiate of Pi Phi’s Illinois Zeta Chapter at the University of Illinois. Balfour visited Sigma Chi’s Kappa Kappa Chapter while his wife was occupied at the Pi Phi house that day.
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.
May 21, 1961 was L. G. Balfour Day at Culver Academy. A garrison parade was held and Balfour was presented with an engraved sabre. Also attending was Colonel C.A. “Jerry” Whitney who hadn’t seen Balfour since the two of them met in the University of Maine’s Sigma Chi house in 1915.
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, generous philanthropists. They had no children, but their legacy lives on in the scholarships and projects they continue to fund through their foundation.
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