Sunday, January 23, 1921, another milestone was achieved
in the onward march of Omega. For, in that year the first
chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, composed entirely
of graduate men was formed. Brother Raymond G. Robinson
the 7th Grand Basileus, a field representative along with other
Omega men looked to the West for expansion. However, an
emergency prevented brother Robinson from coming to St.
Louis. Thus, he authorized Brother John H. Purnell to act on
The founders of this prodigious chapter include Brothers
John H. Purnell, Robert N. Owens and James E. White,
hence, the "21 POWs". These brothers for several months met every two weeks to establish a temporary organization.
The charter members were John H. Purnell, Director of
Communications, Robert N. Owens, James E. White, Acting
Basileus, Frances E. Anthony, J.E. Gipson, W. A. Wallis, W.
Evans, L. H. Curren and M. M. Queen. The previously
mentioned brothers were initiated elsewhere. For instance,
Brothers Purnell and Owens were initiated at the Alpha
Chapter in Washington, D.C., Brother Wallis, Beta Chapter
at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Brothers White
and Anthony were initiated in the Delta Chapter, composed
of students from Meharry Medical College and Fisk in
The chapter was First named Upsilon and later changed by
the Supreme Council to “Upsilon Omega”. Its first initiates
were George L. Vaughn, the 11th Grand Basileus, Ulysses S.
Donaldson, two-time 8th District Representative, W. J.
Stewart, pharmacist, J. F. Winston and J. A. Flowers, were
among the leading physicians during their era. Rev. Selten
W. Parr of Berea Presbyterian Church, a renown pastor in the
City at that time, was chosen as the chapter's honorary
This was just the beginning. Over the next ninety-six years
there was no doubt as to who the people in the City of St.
Louis and the State would look to for leadership, guidance
and service to the community, particularly that of the African
Americans. Brothers S. H. Dreer, Curtis Crawford, George Brantley, Dr. George Mann, John DeShields, Howard Woods, Elliot Gray, Harold Mabry, Edgar Burnett, Dr. Lynn Beckwith Jr., Dr. John Wright Sr., Charles "Be Be" Shelton, Milton Patton, Leroy Adkins and Arthur Sharpe Jr., and Dr. Leon Ashford were pioneers, trailblazers and trend setters in St. Louis' Black community. From civil rights education, politics, social services, law enforcement and government the men of Omega were at the
forefront and proud to be there.
Brother Ramon Trice
8 th District Historian and Chair of Artifacts and Memorabilia