History & Symbols
The History of Phi Sigma Sigma
LILLIAN GORDON ALPERN was born in New York City, the youngest child in a family of six; she followed in her only sister’s footsteps and attended Hunter College. While a junior, Lillian met Charles Alpern and left school to marry. She was the first Founder to pass away in 1945.
JOSEPHINE ELLISON BREAKSTONE worked as a schoolteacher and was married. Josephine lived in New York City until the time of her death.
FREIDA “FAY” CHERTKOFF worked as a teacher throughout her full and interesting life. She is responsible for writing most of the Fraternity’s rituals.
ESTELLE MELNICK COLE worked as a hospital volunteer in New York while taking courses in languages and the arts. Estelle served as an interpreter for her husband while they traveled extensively around the world. They later moved to Harrison, New York, where she resided until her death.
JEANETTE LIPKA FURST graduated from public high school at age 11 and entered college at age 15 to become the youngest member of Phi Sigma Sigma. She graduated from Hunter College in three years at age 18. Jeanette taught fifth grade and later earned her doctorate in audio-visual education and communications. Jeanette was the most active Founder during her alumna years, serving as a volunteer and mentor for many years.
ETHEL GORDON KRAUS married and had two children, one a member of Phi Sigma Sigma. She had five grandchildren and remained a member of the Godmother’s League and the Hattie Bondy Scholarship Fund. Her hobbies included bridge, theater, and gardening. Ethel passed away in 1984 in New York City.
SHIRLEY COHEN LAUFER served as the first national tribune from 1918-1920. At that time, she was known by her married name, Shirley Cohen Goldstein.
CLAIRE WUNDER MCARDLE remains a bit of a mystery. Little is known about Claire following her time at Hunter College. The Winter 1967 issue of The Sphinx magazine said she was possibly a fashion designer living in New York.
ROSE SHER SEIDMAN married and had two sons and seven grandchildren. Rose taught school from 1915-1917 before returning to teach at a private school in 1940, where she stayed for 10 years. In November 1987, Rose passed away in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
GWEN ZALIELS SNYDER graduated from Hunter College and taught school before marrying. She later had one daughter and became a textile designer, branching into interior design.
Past Grand Archons
1918-1920 - FAY CHERTKOFF* - ALPHA CHAPTER
1920-1922 - BERTHA MARKOWITZ GOLDSTEIN* - ALPHA CHAPTER
1922-1924 - GERTRUDE FINKELBRAND KAUFMAN* - GAMMA CHAPTER
1924-1926 - THERESA SHULKIN KOLDIN* - EPSILON CHAPTER
1926-1928 - ROSE JANOWITZ LIDSCHIN* - THETA CHAPTER
1928-1933 - BELLE FURMAN QUITMAN* - EPSILON CHAPTER
1933-1935 - MIRIAM OLDEN FENDLER* - ETA CHAPTER
1936-1938 - DENISE LEVY TOUROVER EZEKIEL* - KAPPA CHAPTER
1939-1948 - CLARISSE HARRISON MARKOWITZ* - PI CHAPTER
1948-1952 - THELMA ZACKIN* - GAMMA CHAPTER
1952-1954 - AUGUSTA SKIRBOLL ROBIN* - IOTA CHAPTER
1954-1956 - RUTH COOPER BURG - KAPPA CHAPTER -
1956-1961 - VEACHEY RUDOLPH BLOOM* - XI CHAPTER
1961-1965 - FLOSSIE LEVIN DENMARK-WESNER - NU CHAPTER
1965-1969 - RUTH VICTORHAUS ROSEN* - IOTA CHAPTER
1969-1973 - JEANINE JACOBS GOLDBERG* - NU CHAPTER
1973-1975 - BOBBI OSSIP - IOTA CHAPTER
1975-1979 - JEANINE JACOBS GOLDBERG* - NU CHAPTER
1979-1983 - LOUISE KRIEGSMAN KIER ZIRRETTA - ZETA CHAPTER
1983-1988 - JUDITH HOWARD DISTLER - ZETA CHAPTER
1988-1992 - KIM HILDRED - GAMMA EPSILON CHAPTER
1992-1996 - LOUISE KRIEGSMAN KIER ZIRRETTA - ZETA CHAPTER
1996-1998 - CHRIS FISCHER SENSENEY - GAMMA DELTA CHAPTER
1998-2002 - JOSETTE GEORGE KAUFMAN* - BETA PSI CHAPTER
2002-2009 - SANDY GROSSMAN - GAMMA NU CHAPTER
2009-2011- PAMELA SIMON DOWNEY - THETA CHAPTER
2011-2017 - ALICIA SCOTT - BETA PSI CHAPTER
2017- - KATIE VLIETSTRA WONNENBERG - EPSILON DELTA CHAPTER
Phi Sigma Sigma's original badge was the sphinxhead, featuring sapphire eyes on a gold base bearing our Greek letters in blue enamel. In 1951, the Fraternity introduced the jeweled badge, a sphinxhead superimposed on a gold pyramid with three sapphires in each corner. Both badges remain in use today.
To further identify a member and indicate the bond between the sorority and chapter, a guard pin (the Greek letter(s) identifying the chapter) is attached to the badge by a small, gold linked chain.
The badge is worn by all duly initiated members over or near the heart. The guard pin is worn lower than the badge. The badge is never to be sold, given or loaned to any person who is not a duly initiated member of Phi Sigma Sigma.
THE SPHINX MAGAZINE
First published in 1923, its purpose was to bring Phi Sigma Sigma’s widely dispersed chapters still closer together into a true international sisterhood. The Sphinx provided a communication link throughout many years.
The complete collection of The Sphinx magazines are available in our digital archives.