Memories of a Merger
On December 12, 2020, we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the merger between Beta Sigma Rho and Pi Lambda Phi fraternities. Beta Sigma Rho was organized under the name Beta Samach, the Greek Beta and the Hebrew Samach suggesting the application of the Greek society idea to the social and cultural life of the Jewish undergraduate. In honor of this momentous occasion, we have gathered a couple of stories in relation to this merger. We hope you enjoy.
Memories of the Merger, Stanley L. Klunder H.B.
For many Brothers of our fraternity, 48 years ago may seem unthinkable. For me in December of 1972 it represents two important milestones in my life. I was initiated and the merger between Beta Sigma Rho and Pi Lambda Phi occurred on December 12th. But my initiation on December 28th was not that simple as I was a member of a Beta Sigma Rho Chapter, “Omicron” at St. John’s University in Queens, NY.
This was not the first merger in our history and I cannot speak to how the other mergers were received at the time. This one in so far as my chapter was concerned was not a happy occasion. The active Brothers and the Alums were against it. (This was the case at some other Beta Sig chapters as well). So my initiation was the last one of Beta Sig and the first one under the merger with Pilam. In attendance were the Executive Secretaries from both organizations, George Bruckman (BSR) and George Beck (PLP). Later on that winter the chapter attended the National Council meeting in NYC proudly wearing our fraternity (Beta Sig) jackets. I recall a Councilman handing us ice cream as we arrived late. Interestingly to us, they treated us as Brothers.
I was elected Rex in the spring of 1973 and attended my first Pilam Convention. I was very impressed with what I heard and saw at that meeting in NYC. Brothers from all over the country dedicated to “their” fraternity. Men you could trust who all had the same purpose. In 1974 I again was in NYC and was elected Chairman of the undergraduate House of Delegates. The concerns I had were all over for me then. That began years of service to our fraternity and the ideals of our Creed.
In the end, what did the merger bring to Beta Sig and Pilam? In a selfish way I can say it brought me, but it is really not about me. It is about the Beta Sig Chapters it brought unwillingly at first, but as time passed committed Brothers to our fraternity. The merger also brought many talented Alumni Brothers who I have known, served with, and have been mentors to me and many other Brothers over the last 48 years. Brothers like Bennet Silberman (Columbia), Barry Levin, and Alex Kushner (Buffalo) who all served as Pilam Presidents and George Bruckman who led the previous Pilam Foundation, served on the Council, and traveled many times on behalf of the fraternity to solve a problem. No doubt there are many other Beta Sig Brothers who brought much to our fraternity. Some I have met and many who worked tirelessly for their chapters.
There are many stories to tell about the last 48 years and the time after the merger while I was at St. John’s and as I met hundreds of my Brothers in North America. After the merger, the Beta Sig Chapters were given a special designation. So the Omicron Chapter at SJU was known as Beta Sig Omicron. The Chapter voted to remove the “Sig” in 1975 and are known as they are today as, “NY Beta Omicron”. Some local traditions that were more tied to Beta Sigma Rho continued on for our St. John’s Pilam Chapter and perhaps in other Chapters too. That’s ok, that’s part of our history. We’re proud that being Pilam includes a history with BSR.
Letter in Memory:
September 17, 2020
Please find enclosed a donation of a vintage Beta Sigma Rho fraternity pin dating from around the mid-1940s. We strongly believe it was from the chapter of this fraternity at the University of Buffalo. It was stored in my mother’s jewelry box. She was UB class of 1948, and a member of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority. According to her stories, her college crowd, and likely this pin, enjoyed after-hours dancing at the Anchor Bar, although the Buffalo Wings hadn’t been invented quite yet.
Please add to your historical collection of your predecessor fraternities.