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.

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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.

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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.  https://janescoolschool.com/2016/11/21/old-business/

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

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