Samuel Gaines



Fra Gaines was a man of character and intellect, bright but unassuming. When he spoke at the ΣΑΜ fiftieth anniversary convention in New York he talked about education, about which all the Founders were passionate. He urged younger fraters never to cease learning and he quoted Newton D. Baker, who said "the man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after." A scholar all his life, his curiosity was unending. He excelled in chemistry at CCNY where he won the coveted Chemistry Medal in 1912.


A scholar among scholars, he was one of the seven Founders who earned graduate degrees. That is an amazing fact, especially in the early 20th century when high school grads were considered "educated." When Sam Gaines graduated he went to Washington, D.C. where he worked first for the U.S. Bureau of Standards, then for the Bureau of Chemistry while earning his Master of Science degree in chemistry, which he received in 1914 from George Washington U. Following the four years in Washington, he became chemist and manager for a New Jersey firm which merged with National Starch and Chemical. There he was chief chemist and director of research and he perfected new production techniques.


In 1941 he became west coast supervisor in San Francisco. There he remained, having really had one employer all of his professional life; when he retired he was accorded the honorary title of "Chief Chemist Emeritus." The company is still in business. Movement to the west coast hardly dimmed Sam's ΣΑΜ involvement. In 1945 he helped reorganize Sigma Sigma chapter in Berkeley, in 1948 he was much in evidence at the Los Angeles Convention, in 1956 he was honorary chairman of the San Francisco Convention. In 1959 he spoke for the Founders at the 50th Anniversary Convention in New York. He passed away in 1960 at the age of 70. Sam took seriously Ira Lind’s early reference to ΣΑΜ as a "family"; in 1916 he married the sister of a frater, and their youngest daughter later married a frater. When Gaines spoke in New York in 1959, he closed his remarks by saying simply, "Long live Sigma Alpha Mu." So be it.