Alpha Kappa Lambda was founded on April 22, 1914 by a group of young men attending the University of California, Berkeley. Its birth, however, dates back to 1906 when a group of friends discussed the “need of Christian men for a place to live and study that was within their (financial) means.”
After assisting in the cleanup of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, four students re-addressed their desire to organize a house club during a YMCA conference in Pacific Grove, California. It was decided to form “Los Amigos” in 1907, which was a house club named from the Spanish translation of “The Friends.” Shortly after, seven more men joined Los Amigos. Reverend Gail Cleland, one of the original 11 members of Los Amigos, recalled, “When we organized Los Amigos as a house club…house clubs and fraternities were dime a dozen. They came, they lived for a few months or a few years, then they went out of existence again. But Los Amigos did not go out of existence.”
He continues, “And seven years later…in response to the suggestion of Benjamin Ide Wheeler, president of the University of California, we organized our house club as a national fraternity of one chapter.”
The founders of Los Amigos were a diverse group, but they shared a common desire for studious living in a college environment and continued integrity after their formal education concluded.
The original founding fathers of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity were William Floyd Barnum, Herman “Richie” “Dickie” Bergh, Charles Junius “Charlie” Booth,”Serious Minded” Gail Cleland, Leonard Harrington Day, Alan Holmes Kimball, Harry Levi Osborn, Charles Oscar “Oscar” Perrine, Ludwig Rehfuess, Harold Alonzo Hal Savage and Joseph Leon “Joe” Taylor.
Shortly thereafter, in 1921, Alpha Kappa Lambda spread to the Midwest, opening Gamma chapter at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Gamma is the oldest continuously active chapter.
The motto of the fraternity is “Alethia Kai Logos,” which in Classical Greek means “The Truth and the Word”. Former National President William B. Herms explains, “The motto is a symbolic statement of our Ideals. We are seekers after Truth, the highest Truth . . . and the Word, which again lends itself to interpretation.”
The official badge of the fraternity is made of ten carat gold. An alpha and a lambda rest in the background (covered with the flowers of a dogwood, representing Christian Principles) and the Kappa is raised, set with eleven whole pearls. The eleven pearls represent the 11 founders of the Los Amigos Club. The badge is to be worn only on collared shirts, sweaters, or suit vests, and in the traditional position over the heart. The badge may only be worn by initiated members of the Fraternity.
The “Souvenir de Claudius Pernet” (French for “Remember Claudius Pernet”), described as a tantalizing yellow rose, was adopted as the Fraternity’s official flower at the 6th National Conclave in 1927 because “its deep golden color matched well with the colors of AKL.”
After winning an award at the prestigious Concours international de roses nouvelles de Bagatelle (“International Competition of New Roses of Bagatelle” in Paris) in 1920, this rose became very popular in the United States. While the Souvenir de Claudius Pernet itself is no longer widely grown, it has many hybridized descendants.
The rose was originally bred by a famous French rose-breeder, Joseph Pernet-Ducher (1859 – 1928), who named the rose after one of his sons, Claudius, who was killed in World War I.
Alpha Kappa Lambda’s ideals are centered around its five cornerstones:
- Judeo-Christian Principles
Alpha Kappa Lambda teaches men the commitments outlined in the Fraternity’s Ritual are not merely remote ideals, but areas of discipline for daily life. AKLs support, and in turn have the support of, their brothers in living these principles.
Through Alpha Kappa Lambda, men with different backgrounds but similar ideals unite with a common purpose: to foster excellence in scholarship, leadership, individual growth, and involvement in community service. AKL is dedicated to “Men of Character Committed to Making A Difference.”