In the March 1947 Oracle, there appeared the “Report of the Redistricting Committee,” dated December 30, 1946. With many servicemen returning from the war, Omega experienced a wave of expansion and a renewed commitment to purpose. The Redistricting Committee believed the changing times required a change in the Fraternity’s organization and infrastructure. In its report, the Redistricting Committee proposed the following:
The Committee on Redistricting has given considered thought to the proposition that no single District Representative should have jurisdiction over more chapters than he can visit regularly and periodically. Good administration and supervision require a continuing contact with local chapters for the purpose of keeping alive the interest and progress of Omega. Of prime importance in trying to determine the limits of territory over which any one District Representative shall have jurisdiction, is the total number of miles which he can reasonably be expected to cover within the limits of the appropriation made for travel purposes, and the amount of time at his disposal for fraternity business. It seems particularly important that the kind and scope of organization be geared to these two factors.
The Committee went on to recommend the following district reorganization:
1st District: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island
2nd District: New York, Connecticut
3rd District: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware
4th District: Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia
5th District: Ohio, West Virginia
6th District: Kentucky, Tennessee
7th District: North Carolina
8th District: South Carolina, Georgia
9th District: Alabama, Florid, Mississippi
10th District: Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico
11th District: Michigan, Illinois, Indiana
12th District: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota
13th District: Missouri, Kansas
14th District: Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah
15th District: Oklahoma, Arkansas
16th District: Southern California, Nevada, Arizona
17th District: Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Montana
Although the Redistricting Committee’s proposal was never implemented, the Fraternity, under 18th Grand Basileus, Campbell C. Johnson (3rd District), appears to address the Committee’s underlying reasons for its proposal by establishing a new position called “Representatives-at-Large,” who were to travel throughout Omega keeping alive the interest and program of the Fraternity. The names of the first three brothers to serve in this capacity appeared in the September 1947 Oracle, and they were: Wendell A. Alston (Brooklyn, NY), W.W. Blocker (Washington, DC), and J.L. Wheeler (Atlanta, GA). In March 1949, the Fraternity changed the title of the position from “Representatives-at-Large” to “Traveling Representatives,” and in March 1958, the position was re-titled “Traveling District Representatives.” The names of the Traveling District Representatives appeared in the Oracle through 1970. Beginning in 1971, under the administration of James S. Avery (28th Grand Basileus), the position of Traveling District Representative no longer appears in the Oracle. This is somewhat ironic, as Avery himself served as a Traveling District Representative from 1963 to 1967.
Before the elimination of the Traveling District Representatives, there were two brothers of note who served in this capacity, Lawrence A. Oxley (14th Grand Basileus) and longtime member of Alpha Omega chapter, and Sylvester W. Blue (9th Third District Representative) and longtime member of Delta Omega chapter. Although there is more information readily available on Brother Oxley, there is some information available about Brother Blue from his time as Third District Representative that is likely telling from his days as a Traveling Representative.
The Traveling Representative, perhaps more than any other fraternal experience, was manifestly Omega. Those who served in this position both experienced and strengthened the connective tissue between Friendship and Fraternity. Much of what these men experienced on the road interacting with brothers and chapter leadership on the front lines later informed enduring policy and programming at the district and national levels. For example, and as documented in the attached Oracle and letter of correspondence, Brother Oxley inspired much needed and renewed interest in the Omega program, while leveraging his experiences to shape those very programs. Moreover, Brother Blue is credited for instituting the “Round Up” and for creating the “Scroll of Honor,” both of which recognized the importance of purposeful brotherly engagement and ongoing contribution in the context of the Omega value system. Something tells me theirs was the ultimate road trip…the one envisioned by our Founders.
Although change is at times necessary, there are so many good things from our past worthy of preserving. On this Labor Day, the History and Archive’s Committee reflects upon and gives thanks to those who, like Brothers Oxley and Blue, have contributed and continue to contribute through their own personal labors to the betterment of Omega.
Make it a great week Brothers. Be noble!
3rd District History and Archives Committee
The Monday Pearl is provided by the Third District History and Archives Committee and is a weekly sharing of fraternity content, commentary, and research of historical value we hope Brothers will enjoy and from which Brothers will draw inspiration. Previous "Pearls" can be found at http://3rddistrictques.org/about-us/overview/monday-pearl/. The Committee encourages your feedback. Should you have reactions, comments, information, anecdotes, documents, and the like, related to any of the content we share, we'd very much like to hear from you. Please send all communication to firstname.lastname@example.org.