Brother Frank Reed Horton

Brother Frank Reed Horton
July 17, 1896 - August 28, 1966
Founder, Alpha Phi Omega

The following article was written by Paul M. H. Lienhardt, '51, Alpha Psi Chapter, Lehigh University, Lehigh, Pennsylvania. (Copyright © 2001, Alpha Phi Omega. All rights reserved.) Brother Lienhardt spent many hours of research on the early life of our Founder, and has given us a detailed view of Frank Reed Horton that might have remained hidden with the passage of time. We have all read "The Story of the Founding," written by our Founder, in the Pledge Manual. Here is the rest of his story. We are very gratefull for the dedicated work, zeal, and determination that Brother Lienhardt has devoted to compile this historical aspect on the early life of our Founder, Frank Reed Horton.

Early Years

Frank Reed Horton was born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, (near Pittsburgh), on July 17, 1896. By the time Frank was 13 years old his family had moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. The year was 1910 and he was enrolled in preparatory school studies at Lerchs Academy, situated in downtown Easton, just a few blocks from Lafayette College. When the family moved to Norwalk, Connecticut, Frank continued his prep school studies at Worcester Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts. In the two years he attended Worcester Academy he played football, basketball and baseball. He also excelled in other school activities. He served as the Business Manager of the academy's weekly paper, THE VIGORNIA, and excelled in debate. He became a member of Sigma Zeta Kappa Debating Society. On June 7, 1913, presenting his topic "The Man Without a Country" by Edward Everett Hale, Frank won the annual Dexter Award and a $25 prize. In May 1914, Frank was elected to serve as president of the debating society.

In 1915 after leaving Worcester Academy Frank worked the next two years during the day as a law clerk for Robert A. Fosdick, Esquire, in Stamford, Connecticut; and at night he studied law extension courses from LaSalle College in Chicago. In the fall of 1916, at the age of 20, he enrolled at Boston University Law School, where his freshman courses were criminal law, agency, torts, sales, contract and property.

One of the more significant events in his life at this time was his joining in Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity on November 4, 1916. It would be a few years later when, as a war veteran returning to school, he would find himself on the Lafayette College campus and residing at the SAE house. That would be the place where he would begin Alpha Phi Omega.

As with many young people, Frank's parents were major influences in his life. Frank was close to his mother mainly because his father traveled a lot in his professional life. But even so, his father continued to wield heavy influence on Frank's law studies. Just as it would appear that Frank would continue his pursuit of law, the world war in Europe was felt in America. On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war against Germany. The War Army Act, a selective draft of 1,000,000 men ages 21 to 30, was passed by congress on May 1 S, 1917. Frank was 21. World War I would change Frank's focus forever.

Masonry and the War Years

Although Horton's Masonry and war related experiences are not really interrelated they were both significant events occurring at the same time period. On June 18, 1918, Frank entered the Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite Masonic order Western Star #37 A.F.&A.M. in Norfolk, Connecticut. Several years later he would expand his Masonic life while on naval duty in Kirkwall, Scotland.

On June 21, 1918, Frank R. Horton enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve Force at New London, Connecticut. He reported for training on July 22, 1918, in Newport, Rhode Island, as a Radio Electrician. He transferred October 5, 1918, to the naval unit at Boston University for additional studies. While there he achieved Chief Boatswain's Mate rating on December 19, 1918. It should be noted that Germany signed the Armistice effectively ending the war on November 1 1, 1918, yet many tasks for the military, especially for the Navy, needed to be completed. With a commitment to the Navy for almost two more years Frank continued to improve himself, taking and passing competitive exams to become an officer. In 1919 he entered Naval Offficers-Material Training School, at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Frank Reed Horton was commissioned an Ensign on April 17,1919. He immediately reported to the First Naval District in Boston for active service on the USS Whippoorwill, a newly commissioned minesweeper. The first duty assignment for the ship was to the North Sea to participate in the detonation of 57,000 magnetic mines strung from Orkney Islands, just north of Scotland, and due east to Stavanger, Norway. Frank would serve as a Watch Offficer, Navigation Offficer, Signal Offficer and Inspection Offficer while on sea duty.

But it was Frank's previous legal training that drew him away from his regular assignments and into special duties with the navy court martial system involving young seamen. More than a few, who, facing dangers and being away from home and lacking personal guidance, found themselves in trouble with navy rules and regulations. The matter of strengthening principles in young men would influence Frank forever. Here we see another significant event that would allow him to readily accept the principles of Scouting in his life as well as those of Rotary, Masonry and other organizations.

On August 8, 1919, at Kirkwall, Scotland, in the Orkney Islands, he entered the Royal Arch Chapter #209 of the York Rite. He would later receive Life Member Militia Templi Preceptory St. Magnus recognition on April 23,1922, upon returning to the United States.

The USS Whippoorwill returned March 1920 to Charleston, South Carolina, with Frank obtaining his naval discharge June 23, 1920, in Philadelphia. He would earn the World War I Victory Medal and the Minesweeper Clasp. From 1920 to 1922 after leaving the Navy Frank managed his father's 11-acre hog and chicken stock farm, known as Stoneacre, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. While in Carlisle he joined Kiwanis and the Knights of Pythias.

Lafayette College, Scouting, and Alpha Phi Omega

In the summer of 1922 Frank moved to Columbus, Ohio. This information was gleaned from Masonic records showing his change from Norwalk, Connecticut to affiliation in the East Gate Lodge #603 in Galena, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. In the ensuing years he received the 32nd degree Prince of the Royal Secret (Scottish Rite) Masonic Order from the Ordo ab Chao Supreme Council 33rd Jurisdiction at Grand East, in Boston, Massachusetts. Masonic Orders were a continuing vital part of Frank Reed Horton's life. Later Frank would resign from Valley of Scranton Masonic Lodge, March 8, 1926, to enter the Valley of Allentown Masonic Lodge on June 3, 1927, while still maintaining his ties to the Blue Lodge at East Gate #603 in Ohio.

In the fall of 1923 Frank enrolled at Lafayette College as a sophomore. That year his course of studies included history, English, psychology, ethics and religion. He was 27 years old. In November of 1923 Frank attended the American Legion Armistice Ball held at the Easton armory, where he met another naval veteran, 10 years his senior, Herbert George Horton, who had served as a lieutenant on a destroyer. In sharing military stories and discussing the events of the day Herb, then Easton Area Council Scout Executive, told Frank about Scouting and launched Frank on his first Scouting assignment as Deputy Scout Commissioner for South Side District and as interim Scoutmaster for a Scout Troop. Later Frank would state, "In the Scout Oath and Law, I found the standard I had been seeking, a standard of manhood that would stand the test of time, and it was worldwide for friendship, understanding and world peace."

The events of Frank Reed Horton's life throughout this time period, his family life, religious faith, study of law, military experience, membership in Masonry and newly found ideals of Scouting allowed him to have the energy, conviction, dedication and vision to provide the leadership necessary for the next stage. Frank Reed Horton had the conviction, dedication and vision to lead a group of 14 fellow students who worked creatively and diligently to lay the foundation and structure our Fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.

Source: From article written by Paul M. H. Lienhardt 1951 Alpha Psi Chapter, Lehigh University, Lehigh, Pennsylvania.