Reunion & Homecoming 2011

RPI Homecoming October 21 – 23, 2011

All:  Due to a funeral of a close friend and neighbor on Long Island, NY, on Friday and Saturday October 21st and 22nd, I was unable to attend any of the Friday events for Homecoming ’11 and missed most of the Saturday events.  Of course, I made the cocktail party at 5:30 p.m. after a 4-hour ride from Long Island – but arrived 1½ hours late to that.  Anyway, here’s a quick re-cap of what I heard and saw myself at Homecoming . . .

First, the cast of characters:

1960: Ed Kellogg
1961: Ken Miller and Charlie Ginste
1966: Paul and Sharon Davis; W. Eric Kluz and spouse; Dick and Jean Ross; Bill and Sandra Pomeroy; George and Faith Reynolds; George Bushnell;  and Edward (Foss) and Mary Hooper
1970: C. Ray Allshouse; John “KB” Krifka and his son, Ben
1971: Bob Barnes; Bill Crowe; Larry Frey and his wife, Janan; Bob Hutnick and his wife Jean; John Pfaff; Gary Wood and his wife Sam; Bill Wurst and his wife Barb
1972: Paul Cosgrave and his wife Charlene
1973: Bill Hanson and his wife, Gail
1975: Jim Manocchi, his wife Pam, and daughters Linn and Amy
1976: Tom Kouletsis
1995 – Victor Avelar
1996: Mark Skarulis and Ryan Walsh
2009: Josh Gilbert and Alex Kuman
2010: Dan Zuber = 46 alumni and guests

On Friday, October 21st, at 2 p.m., Delta Psi Sigma Chi Paul “Significant Sig Cos” Cosgrave ’72 was elected and inducted in as the President of the Rensselaer Alumni Association (RAA).  This was followed by the RPI President’s State of the University speech.

At 4 p.m., there was a Welcoming Cocktail Party @ Delta Psi. Attending the party were Ed Kellogg ’60, C-Ray ’70, Evil ’73 and Gail and Ken Miller and Charlie Ginste from 1961, in addition to Charlene and Cos ’72.  Ed Kellogg ’60 wrote: I was at the Friday afternoon cocktail party. It was there that I had the incomparable pleasure of meeting Ken Miller ’61 and Charlie Ginste ’61 for the first time in 51 years!

At 6 p.m. the Greek ChowderFest was attended by Cos and Charlene and the undergraduates presented a Sigma Chi Chowder that won first place.  The House Steward, Aaron, was given a ovation by the homecoming Group on Saturday for winning the event.  Cos, as President of the RAA, announced the unanimous decision of the 5 judges. Delta Psi was awarded a check for $300 for their outstanding clam chowder.  The Class of ’66 attended their 45th RPI Dinner at Century House during this time.

Friday Night Activities: Again, anyone who went to the House or Union should comment.  I’d like to know how things went down myself so we can put together an agenda for next year’s Homecoming, October 5-7, 2012.

Saturday, October 22nd

Saturday Morning and Early Afternoon Activities

Tour of the Campus and the IBM Watson computer and Jeopardy Champ Demonstration, which was attended by Evil, Gail and Michael Hanson ’12.  They had VIP seats since Evil works for IBM.
My buddy from work (CBP in DC), an RPI graduate from ’81, went to the RPI FanFest, a carnival-type event before the football game and said it was super, with games, food, etc.

1 p.m. – At the football game, Cos, Charlene, Bill and Sandra Pomeroy and undergraduate Andrew Stevens, the president of the Red and White Organization on Campus) were invited to be part of Dr. Jackson’s VIP Suite.  Yes, RPI has a VIP suite at the new football field.  Present at the suite was Mike Rozier, who won the Heisman Trophy back in 1983.  He brought the trophy with him and some of us got to take pictures with him.

After the football game, a few of us were invited to attend the Phalanx reception. Andrew Stevens ’12, Paul and Sharon Davis were there along with Charlene and Cos.  Phalanx is a campus wide society that honors people who were active in campus leadership positions.  Andrew is president of the Red and White society which is a student society that works with the Alumni Association and serves in various capacities around campus.  For example all during the weekend they volunteered and drove people around on campus in golf carts.  Paul Davis was the Editor of the Poly when he was on Campus, and Cos was inducted for being IFC VP and other campus-wide activities.  Delta Psi is making a big push to get more involved on campus (Ken Sobol is EVP of the IFC) as well as pushing themselves for a high ranking GPA.

4 – 7 p.m. – The Homecoming Cocktail Party took place in the living room with three undergrads manning the bar in the library.  When Jean and I arrived at 5:30 p.m., we were met by two undergraduates and welcomed to the House. That was the first of many “nice touches” that the House Brothers did throughout the night.  The two undergrads, Jamison (like the whiskey, and Michael Hanson, Son of Evil) took by wine off my hands and brought it to the BYOB Bar.  The only downside was that they failed to return with two glasses of wine for Jean and me!  Led by the Classes of ’66 and ’71, the cocktail party was roaring with 40 alumni and guests at least and another 35 undergraduate brothers and 15 or more pledges.

The class of ’66 was celebrating their 45th reunion and had a great turnout as Foss Hooper organized the group, Walt AKA Eric Kluz kept the emails going, and Bill Pomeroy had his personal secretary prepare a 20-minute video for Homecoming.  While the ’66ers occupied the living room, the ’71ers were found in the front hallway when Jean and I arrived at 5:30 p.m.  With megaphone in hand, I greeted my six other 40-year celebrants but warned them to watch out for Earth falling over the balcony!  With the House providing some wine and beer and the alums bringing some too, the cocktail party was a great success as we moved to the dining areas around 7 p.m.

7 p.m. Dinner – I never expect much from dinners at large events – weddings, reunions, etc. So when we sat down for dinner in the “Chapter Room” (CR) AKA Party Room with 50 or so alumni, guests, undergrads, and pledges (with another 40 upstairs in the Dining Room AKA Conservatory (?)), we were in for SOME surprise when the salad (excellent) and braised beef rib was served with garlic, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and garnished with parsley.

Of course, the meal was preceded by Consul Sobel leading us in The Sigma Chi Grace.  The meal was one of the best meals I have ever eaten at any “event.”  This was all prepared and presented by the House Chef. Chris Brunette, who was brought into the CR and was given a resounding ovation by the group upon his presentation by Chapter Consul Ken Sobel.  Ed Kellogg ’60 wrote, “That white stuff under the beef Saturday evening was more exotic than mashed potatoes, it was polenta with cheese and some other ingredient that I can’t recall. Just one component of a truly amazingly superior dinner, far above any I’d ever experienced at other than a fancy restaurant in a big city.”

Following dinner, we adjourned to the library and living room for dessert and returned to the CR for the finale, which included: State of the Chapter by Ken Sobel; State of the RAA by RAA President Paul Cosgrave; State of the Fund Raising Campaign for the Bill Pomeroy Addition, by Mssrs. Cosgrave and Manocchi; Presentation of 15 of the 22 new Delta Psi pledges by the Magister, with a brief introduction given by each pledge, including their nicknames.
Jean’s favorite pledge was the one from China who said that he feels the closeness of our brotherhood in his heart.  One of my favorites was the brother from Dubai who made a reference about never riding a camel!

A VERY good group of pledges and hopefully future brothers. I heartily recommend you consider coming to initiation in January and seeing for yourself these quality gentlemen; this was followed by an Alumni thank you by yours truly, who complimented the undergrads with a great rush, a superior pledge class, and also acknowledged the great job done by the House in welcoming the alumni, feeding the group, providing refreshments, etc.;  Final words were given by Consul Sobel and he intruded Bill Wurst and Larry “Grizzle” Frey to lead the 60 brothers assembled in the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi.  After a few more Sig songs, we had to leave due to Jean’s back hurting so much.

Final Thoughts:  The House is doing very well.  Cos told a story of an alumus from LXA who said that LXA had been the “Big House on Campus” for the past four years but it appears that Sigma Chi has now become THE Premier House at RPI.

This is quite a turnaround from seven years ago when we were down to 15 undergraduate brothers.  Why this has happened is because of several things all working together to create a new energy at Delta Psi.  As alumni, you have to take part of the credit because the money donated to the House, the proposed new Addition to be built, the Alumni Work Sessions held each August, alumni participation at our 60th Anniversary and at the Rush Banquets and initiation, etc.  This alumni involvement has given the undergrads a special feeling of strength in numbers.

The undergrads know that if we have this much spirit and time, talent, and conviction to love and serve Sigma Chi 20, 30, 40, or 50 years after graduation, there must be something to being a Sigma Chi. There is.  But, as I tell the undergrads every time they thank us for alumni support, it really is THEY, who are on the ground, who are responsible for the turnaround at Delta Psi.  For it is the undergrads who do the rushing and who live there and exude the spirit of Sigma Chi to their fellow brothers and prospective pledges.

I also think that having Bob Eckart as Chapter Advisor and his close association with the undergrads has also helped tremendously with the turnaround.  In fact, all the past Chapter Advisors who have given their time and talent to Sigma Chi deserve our thanks and are an  important part of our resurgence at 58 Pinewoods.

There are so many who deserve special recognition: Turk, as President of House Corp and one of the founders of the alumni work sessions; HJ, who not only spends his time, money, and talents at work session each year, but also shows the undergrads what it means to be a Sigma Chi, a life-long Sigma Chi, as he builds not only improvements to the House but he builds relationships with himself and the undergraduates; Turk, Jim, and Hobie for conceiving of the idea for a new addition and Bill Pomeroy for providing us with the financial foundation to go for $1.5 million; and, again, for each of you whether you supported the House financially or through your time at work session, initiation, rush banquet, whatever.

It took a village [or in greek terms village = brotherhood] to get this house to where it is and while the physical new House may be a couple of years away, the more important House, the men of Sigma Chi at Delta Psi, look solid and we should all be very proud of them.  It is my hope that they all are able to experience the same bonds of brotherhood and friendship that we have over the last 40 years.

Where Do We Go From Here?
As the house continues to expand and the Sigma Chi undergraduates continue to take more leadership roles on the RPI campus, our alumni will continue to raise the $200,000 needed to complete our $1.5 million down payment on our $2.5 million Bill Pomeroy Addition.  Foss Hooper ’66 said that his class is looking at returning next year, October 5-7, 2012, for Homecoming and celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Class of 1967’s graduation.  I’m hoping that Tom “Hobie” Hey will encourage his fellow ’72 brothers to return for their 40th and get surrounding class members to celebrate with them.  We had two Sigs from 1961 return so we will try to get 1962 Sigs back for their 50th.  We also had three Sigs from the 1990’s, with Mark Skarulis and Ryan Walsh celebrating their 15th graduation anniversary and Victor Avelar ’95 there to support them.  Hopefully they’ll be able to get some alums from ’97 to return next year for their 15th.

In December, the House will be initiating our pledges.  This is a great way to see the spirit of Sigma Chi in action.  Anyone wishing to attend should contact me so we can get a master list of attendees and coordinate hotel rooms and car pools.  Foss also attended his first work session this August and said hopes to get other alums back to this to experience this unique alumni-undergraduate interaction.  This is what being a life-long Sigma Chi means – I concur.  Work sessions, as I’ve said many times before, is not only about the physical work that is done on the House by our many artisans, but it is about working alongside undergrads who come away with a sense that brotherhood lasts BEYOND the four years of college.  This is important because as we have learned, an active alumni is important to the Delta Psi’s continued success.  Try to return for the Saturday August work session and stay for the House Meeting on Saturday night.  I guarantee that you will be amazed of the display of the bonds of brotherhood between the alums and undergrads though 40 years separate us.

As usual, I welcome any additions, deletions, comments, etc., especially on the Friday and pre-cocktail party Saturday event.  Have a great fall and hope your health stays well.  I should be in Northern Virginia most of the fall with trips to Long Island for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Hoping to be in Naples, Florida, area, most of January and February, with possible side trips up the west and/or east coasts of Florida.
In Hoc, Ruff
October 27, 2011

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