Chester A. Lydecker

Chester Alan “Cal” Lydecker, Alpha, 1914, Phi Alpha, 1942-1943

Chester Lydecker occupies an interesting place in Zeta Psi history.  He became the first former General Secretary of Zeta Psi to become Phi Alpha.  He also was the direct predecessor of Arthur “Red” Motley as both General Secretary and Phi Alpha.

Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1889, Brother Lydecker joined the workforce when he graduated high school and was thus a few years older than most of his classmates at Columbia University when he graduated in 1914.

Soon after graduation he joined the Central Office of Zeta Psi as the Assistant Secretary, under General Secretary Fritz Nymeyer, Alpha Epsilon, 1911. He served in this position from 1914 to 1917, leaving to join the US Army.  He returned in 1919, and the Central office moved to 110 W. 40th Street.  Shortly thereafter he became the General Secretary of Zeta Psi, serving from 1919 to June 1923. During this time he also served as the Editor of the Circle of Zeta Psi Magazine.

As General Secretary he championed expansion, “there had been no new chapters since 1910s installation of the Lambda Psi chapter at the University of Wisconsin.   Lydecker warmly subscribed to the petition from a society at the University of Washington which, in 1920, became the Phi  Lambda chapter.  He was no less warm in his advocacy of a chapter at the University of Manitoba, which in 1921, became the Pi Epsilon.” [Zeta Psi of North America Double Diamond Jubilee book].  One of the most important matters of his term as General Secretary was the creation of the Student Aid Fund at the Grand Chapter meeting of 1920.

In 1924, after leaving the Central office, he started work as an assistant sales manager for the Peerless Leaf Roll Co. of New York and Union City, NJ.   In 1928 he was elected Secretary of the firm. At the time, Peerless employed between 80 and 100 people.  He retired as President of the firm in 1956.  Peerless made “hot stamping foils” in which genuine gold leaf and imitation gold prints are used in stamping all sorts of consumer goods (such as wallets, shoes, and other leather items, books, as well as on glassine or cellophane).  During WWII, Brother Lydecker had Peerless making labels for US Army Air Corps Bomber parts.

He served as Mayor of the borough of Middlesex, NJ from 1936 to 1937. Upon retirement he became involved with his city and county in several elected and appointed positions. He also served as President of the Middlesex County Tuberculosis and Health League.  He was past President of the Rotary Club of Union City.

As Phi Alpha, war time curtailment of travel prevented him from visiting more than six chapters.

Chester with one of his three daughters