Alpha Omega History
The number “66” is significant in many ways. Multitudes have gotten their kicks on Route 66, and many others have stopped to “fill ‘er up” at the Phillips 66 station, but to a select group of men, 66 signifies the genesis of a brotherhood. While many were protesting the Vietnam War or embracing the “let it be” lifestyle, a group of dedicated young men were building a fraternity chapter based on sound ideals and strong brotherhood. Their persistence came to fruition on September 24, 1966 in Athens, Ohio. On that day, the Alpha Omega Chapter was born, and 53 exceptional young men joined thousands before them in the brotherhood of Phi Gamma Delta.
While Alpha Omega may have been officially christened in 1966, it was actually conceived during the spring of 1965 due to the diligence of graduate students Joseph A. Cecil (Tennessee ’60) and Steven J. Adorian (Lafayette ’62), two Fiji’s who found themselves in Athens without a chapter to call home. According to an Ohio University Post article of the time, the impetus to form a chapter, according to Brother Cecil, was a desire for other men “to have the opportunity to be part of a brotherhood that meant a great deal to us as undergraduates—and still means a lot to us now.”
Clearly, Brothers Cecil and Adorian subscribed to the ideal that Phi Gamma Delta is “not for college days alone”, and set about laying the foundation for the new Delta Colony. After working tirelessly toward their goal for many months, Brothers Cecil and Adorian, along with then Section Chief John E. Hansel (Ohio State ’53), OU ROTC Major James Shufelt (Johns Hopkins ’55), OU Professor Dr. Paul R. Murphy (Iowa ’33) and three brothers from our “Big Brother Chapter” at Miami of Ohio, held an early rush that fall and officially pledged 30 men to the new Delta Colony, on September 22, 1965.
This initial group of 30 was charged with the task of becoming “chapter worthy” in less than a year. Holding rush in John Calhoun Baker Center Student Union, the group promptly pledged six additional men. While still wet behind the ears, the members of the Delta Colony entered Homecoming activities with Chi Omega Sorority, and showed they belonged with a first place Greek Week finish, all during their first month of existence. By the end of the first semester, the Colony had won the Service Award presented by the Athens Messenger, attained the second highest GPA among fraternities, and organized a house corporation.
Spring semester was equally busy, as 29 more young men accepted the white star that would distinguish them as Fiji pledges. The newly formed House Corporation wasted no time in locating a large, turn-of-the-century home at 39 North College Street and with a lot of handshakes, smiles, and promises, obtained financing for a grand chapter house.
Perhaps the most urgent event of the semester occurred in March, when the colony learned that they could petition for chartering at the 118th Ekklesia in Denver, but had precious little time to do so before the board meeting in Washington, D.C. In the days before fax machines and email, the men completed a nine-hour marathon work session to prepare the packet and post it in time for the weekend mail to Archon President Hugh J. Baker, Jr. (Ohio State ‘31).
The men continued with their flurry of activity, moving into “The House” in April, casting a distinctly purple hue on J-Prom with a strong showing by the colony and the election of Mike Bartley, ’67, as J-Prom King Runner-Up, and in a scene that would be replayed time and again on the graduate level, electing a young David Slater ‘67 to the presidency. The school year ended with the colony nervously anticipating the upcoming Ekklesia, and its answer to their petition.
|1966 Ekklesia Delta Colony Badge||
Hank Barker ’67 & Walt Darling ’68 in
It seems fitting that Ekklesia was held in Denver in the summer of 1966, as the Bobcat Colony members from Ohio University certainly felt a “mile high” after hearing, in front of hundreds of delegates, that they had earned their charter. “It’s an amazing scene and (it) still sends chills up and down my spine when I think about it,” said Slater, some four decades later.
While being awarded a charter was accomplishment enough, this group of brothers earned their charter in a record one year, when, at the time, it took the average colony three years to accomplish the goal.
Clearly this group was special, and the euphoria over obtaining their charter would carry them until September 24, 1966, when, during a ceremony laden with generations of tradition Alpha Omega was officially installed as the 89th chapter, and these extremely purple Delta Colonists were activated into the Brotherhood of Phi Gamma Delta.
The number 66 is significant in many ways, but to Alpha Omega of Phi Gamma Delta, and the growing roll of (now more than 660) graduate brothers who now call it home, 66 will always signify the birth of a brotherhood. “Long may our Delta wave….”
Jerry Winkler (Ohio ’90)
The Alpha Omega Graduate Association, Inc.