Iota Lambda History

As evidenced from the first Greek letter of its name, and from its founding date of April 17, 1922, Iota Lambda is one of the early, surviving alumni chapters of our great Fraternity. According to Br. Charles Harris Wesley, in The History Of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: A Development in College Life, “the chapter was set up by Brother Fairfax of Ohio University and Brother Powell of Tau Chapter.” Charter Members of Iota Lambda were Brothers Clarence Burbridge, Averitte Corley, Sumner Furniss, George Gore, Oley A Johnson, Morris Taylor, John Walker, and Minus Woodruff. Iota Lambda was somewhat unique in that the original Chapter Charter was somewhat unique in authorizing intake of college Brothers at Bloomington, DePauw, and Purdue. Although this point is noted in the Fraternal history book, the original charter documents vanished by the latter part of the 20th century, and the Chapter surrendered this role, in part due to the establishment of nearby college chapters in the intervening years.

It is worth recalling modern presidents of Iota Lambda Chapter (some of whom served multiple terms) from 1946 to present. Exact dates of terms could not be established, but roughly in chronological order these included Brothers Spurling Clark, Henry Richardson, Rev. James Cummings, Lehman Adams, Theodore Randall, Crammon J. Myers, Joseph Taylor, William Coleman, John Warrick, Robert Lackey, Freeman Martin, Leon Thompkins, Frederick Bullard, Kevin Holloway, Thomas Horner, Robert McGhee, Harry Penquite, Edsel Thruston, John Davis, James Davie, Robert E. Bedford, Alan Presley, Isham J. Bennett, William Crutchfield, William Lindsey, and Ron Clark.

At the district level, Brothers from Iota Lambda have often served as the Indiana District Director in recent years. Since the early 1970s, Iota Lambda Brothers in this role include: John Warrick, Robert McGhee Theo Hammiter, Robert E. Bedford, John Davis, Adrian Cushenberry, Thua Barlay, Ron Clark, Jay Bennett, and Corye Franklin Others brothers from this chapter have also served in supporting roles in district leadership such as Area Directors, Executive Directors, and Chapter Advisors. Under their leadership, the District of Indiana has been among the leaders in defining, adopting, and refining the modern forms of membership intake. In regional matters, Iota Lambda Chapter has hosted the Midwestern Regional Conventions in 1954, 1964, 1976, 1990, and 2002. The chapter also hosted the Midwestern Regional Youth Leadership Development and Citizenship Education Institute in 1989 and again in the early 1990s.

Any attempt to single out a few Brothers for noteworthy service to the Fraternity and beyond unavoidably will result in neglecting many whose deeds were less visible or less easily called to mind. With apologies to those Brothers and recognitions which space could not accommodate or the vagaries of memory have slighted, we offer the following (in alphabetical order) as examples of Iota Lambda Brothers of note:

  • Bro. Dr. Lehman Adams – professor at the Indiana University School of Dentistry; active in civic, political, education, and medical affairs.
  • Bro. Robert E. Bedford – educator; one of the founding contributors to Alpha University.
  • Bro. Dr. T. Garrott Benjamin – Bishop, Light of the World Christian Church; author.
  • Bro. Rod Bohannon – attorney; long time President of the Indianapolis Chapter of the NAACP.
  • Bro. Rozelle Boyd – long time Indianapolis City Councilman and former Dean of the University Division of Indiana University, Bloomington.
  • Bro. Alvin S. Bynum – former head of University Division of IUPUI and member of the Board of Trustees of Marian College; author.
  • Bro. Ron Clark– Midwestern Regional Executive Director.
  • Bro. David P. Gulley – first non-African American member of Iota Lambda Chapter.
  • Bro. Grant Hawkins – former chairman of Indianapolis School Board; head of Indianapolis Department of Public Works; and assistant to then-Governor of Indiana, McNutt.
  • Bro. Joseph Isom – first chief to approve all GI Loans in the State of Indiana.
  • Bro. Dr. Frank P. Lloyd – physician who rose to head of Methodist Hospital, responsible for its expansion to largest hospital in the state of Indiana; founded Midwest National Bank in the 1970s as well as radio station WTLC.
  • Bro. Dr. George Rawls – outstanding surgeon; assistant Dean of Indiana University Medical School; philanthropist.
  • Bro. Henry Richardson – fought the Ku Klux Klan in the community during the late 1920s.
  • Bro. Dr. Joseph T. Taylor – first academic dean of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, IUPUI; conducted research supporting the desegregation case of the Marion County Public Schools.
  • Bro. John Preston Ward – sued the City of Indianapolis in school desegregation, case supported by historical materials from Br. Dr. Joseph Taylor.
  • Bro. Clarence Wood – first Black vice president of a major Indianapolis banking institution (former American Fletcher National Bank).

Contributing Brothers: Dr. Lehman Adams, Leslie F. House, Joseph Isom, Robert A. McGhee, Edward C. Squires, Edsel A. Thruston, Robert Wood.