Lester Cole



Lester Cole (ne Cohen), CCNY 1912, was a well known student at City College in 1909; he was marshal of the sophomore class (the class of 1912). He was leaderlike and colorful; he was called The Chief. The sophomores had taken the freshmen class officers to Long Island and the frosh simply took off. Cole held a meeting of class leaders there on North Beach and invited twelve to a meeting on November 26, 1909 to discuss class matters. Eight of them showed up. They decided instead to form a new fraternity and call it Cosmic Fraternal Order, to be called "Kappa Phi Omega." Fascinated by the Orient, Cole proposed the use of Hindu letters for the motto, which passed, and he was delegated to ascertain the proper Hindu equivalents. The name, however, was compromised causing a name change a few days later. That is when "Sigma Alpha Mu" and the motto were chosen. But a vestige of Cole's oriental leanings remains in the ΣΑΜ archives, for he was in charge of official papers in the very earliest days and Fraternity documents were executed by him by hand. Of those, several pledge forms survive. They include three symbols ostensibly of Hindu origin placed on a black octagon, which have been examined by Sanskrit scholars….As an upperclassman Cole must have cut quite a figure. His campus activity grew; he was a Delegate, Class Vice President, served on important student committees and was elected to the Engineering Society and the Chemical Society. He was a scholar, as were all the Founders….Remaining in New York for a time, Fra Cole moved to San Francisco whence he reportedly went to the Orient and spent the latter part of his life in China.