After the close of World War II, thousands of soldiers throughout the country returned to colleges and universities under the G.I. Bill of Rights to complete requirements for their college degrees. Many of these G.I.s were brought across the "burning sands" into Alphadom during the late forties and well into the fifties.
Coming to St. Petersburg after graduation, newly made brothers affiliated with their first Graduate Chapter, Gamma Zeta Lambda in Tampa, the only graduate chapter on the Florida west coast at the time. At Gamma Zeta Lambda, the St. Petersburg brothers were welcomed with open arms.
Although Tampa was the home seat of the chapter, the Wednesday night meetings were rotated from Tampa to St. Petersburg, to Sebring to accommodate brothers who came to meetings from great distances. The long distances traveled to meeting places, as well as the mid -week meeting date, influenced the St. Petersburg brothers to begin thinking about applying for a local chapter.
Brother Paul Mohr, who had been initiated into Gamma Zeta Lambda, and Brother Emanuel Stewart, a G.I. initiated in Beta Nu at Florida A&M, assumed the initiative to poll and sell the idea to local Alphas of the advantages to have a St. Petersburg Chapter. At first, a few brothers were hesitant about pulling away from the Tampa Chapter.
However, with more persuasion, leaning on the shield and arm twisting, in short time, everyone was in accord. By November 1962, we were on our way to meeting the initial requirements. The chapter application for the chapter fee was collected from the brothers, and the application for the chapter was prepared, listing the names of the charter members.
Listed were Brothers Fred Alsup, Orion Ayer, Roger Danley, Noah Gaines, Clarence Givens, Ralph James, Robert Lawson, Grant McCray Sr., Dean Mohr*, Paul Mohr Sr., Samuel Robinson, Robert Simmons, Emanuel Stewart, William Thompson, and Ralph Wimbush. At zero hour, the application was rushed to the general headquarter in Chicago; just in time for it to be placed on the agenda for the upcoming General Convention.
The post box was checked daily, while the St. Petersburg brothers anxiously waited for a reply. At last, the good news came, stating that the application for an Alpha Chapter in St. Petersburg had been approved. It was indeed a jubilant day. Approval was made December 31, 1962, by the 57th General Convention in session in Columbus, Ohio (Brother William Hale, General President, and Brother Laurence T. Young, General Secretary).
An Alpha chapter, given the name THETA ETA LAMBDA was at last a reality! Immediate steps were taken to get THETA ETA LAMBDA off to a running start. Officers were elected, constitution and bylaws were adopted, long and short-term goals were formulated.