Alpha Mu Brothers Speak Up

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In last month’s e-letter, we sent out a survey to our Alpha Mu Alumni. Now, we’d like to share some of our favorite responses with you! If you want to answer these questions yourself, please CLICK HERE to take the survey. You may see your Alpha Mu memories, photos or reflections published in a future newsletter or e-letter. We’d love to hear from all our Alpha Mu Alumni! Here are your Brothers responses. 

Harry Barfoot III ‘77

"I enjoy hearing about our fraternity, the latest news from the undergraduates, and updates on our progress as a chapter. Our recent recolonization efforts have allowed many of us to donate more as we re-open the chapter house and re-establish Pi Kappa Phi at Penn State. Our Alumni Board has been active to reach out to the alumni to help.

The most valuable part of my Pi Kapp experience is the continued relationships I have with other alumni. Each August a large group (35-40) of us meet to play golf in State College, stay at the Nittany Lion Inn, and enjoy the camaraderie of the brotherhood. We share old “war” stories as well as provide our own updates on family, life, retirement, etc. It’s a fun weekend! Each year there is someone who comes to the event and may not have been back for decades! Additionally, one Brother retired and moved back to the area (Boalsburg). We get together for Homecoming weekend or other football weekends and “crash” at his place. His wife is a Pi Kapp Big Sister too. We tailgate, attend a game or two, and enjoy reminiscing about our time at Pi Kappa Phi. We’ve also uploaded photos from the late 60’s through the early 80’s. Sometimes it is as if time has stood still. Recently, given the Covid-19 crisis, we held a few video conferencing calls and communicated how each of us was dealing with this. So by far, the relationship with others is so important and remains the most valuable part of the Pi Kapp experience.

I think that with any organization, there is a shared set of values all members have. For me, the Pi Kapp alumni association, at it’s full potential, should provide the link between the new, young, undergraduate brothers with all who have lived and enjoyed the experience many years ago. We connect ourselves and communicate with each other. Like the Penn State Alumni Association, the largest in the world, we strive to be recognized as an organization of outstanding men who share in the experience of our years at Penn State living at 409 East Fairmount Avenue, our social experiences, our life experiences, and our commitment to our University and the Greek System. Many of us have kids or grandchildren who are now Penn State alumi.

This time is a challenge for all of us. But putting it in perspective, Anne Frank and seven others lived in a 470 square foot attic for 761 days, quietly trying to remain undiscovered so they could survive. I think we can deal with this pandemic. I feel sorry for the undergraduates who are now going back to campus for the remainder of the semester, particularly graduating seniors. But this is a bump in the road…a reminder to us of all that we have and share. What is most important is everyone remains safe and healthy because this “quarantine in place” will be over soon enough. And we’ll get back to normal. However, the “new normal” might include continued use of technology to learn and to communicate. But nothing can replace a group of men living under one roof together and having the Penn State and Pi Kappa Phi experience; these are lifetime memories.

I am currently in closest touch with the group that was with me in the 74-78 timeframe. I recently reconnected with my old roommate who moved to Australia and has lived there now for over 20 years. We have bonds that can’t be broken. I also am connected with the group from the late 60’s into the early 70’s. These guys are the “older and wiser” brothers, many who are considered legends at Alpha Mu!
I retired about 2.5 years ago after working for @ 40.5 years. I am fortunate to be married to my wife of 38 years, Sally, who is a Syracuse graduate. We have two adult kids, and both are Penn State graduates. So we share in our experiences in Happy Valley. I now volunteer for our local township on a planning commission and an environmental advisory council. And I am a formal mentor for students in the Smeal College of Business. These volunteer activities keep me connected to both my local community as well as with the students at Penn State."

John Turchek ‘68

"My fraternity experience was a very positive one that coupled with my educational experience set the foundation for a successful career. I am happy to say that I am still friends with many of the brothers who lived in the house at that time. Besides seeing some of the brothers at our Winter Golf Outing in Naples every year as well as at our annual Pi Kappi Phi golf outing at PSU every August, I also have been able to see 4-5 other brothers on a more frequent basis over the years.

Our main function I believe is to help provide financial support for the Chapter. Over the years, the Alumni Chapter has provided a good networking experience for the undergraduates who reached out to the alums.

In my lifetime, we have never experienced a threat such as what the pandemic does today. Almost everything that we have done in the past has to be changed in some form or another. An analysis of the Columbia University and NYTimes database shows three scenarios that vary in total infections per day as well as the duration of this wave. The duration varies from 16 to 24 weeks. It could last until Christmas. Thus, not only was Spring 2020 impacted, but the Fall 2020 semester could easily be impacted as well. And this is just for the first wave. Viruses tend to mutate. Thus, as much as I would not hope so, there is a potential for a second wave and even a third wave. The house could be without tenants for a long period of time.

This got me thinking a little. What kind of Internet capabilities do we have in the House? Who pays for it? What are we doing to help with communications among the current brothers and alums at this time? Have we looked at Podcasts, conference calls etc? The alums may have to kick in additional funding to keep the house going.

I see Tom Pollack, Steve Bradley, and Dan Mochnally on a regular basis. I have had lunch with Joe Rabosky, Chuck Ferraro, and Doug Forbes from time to time. I usually meet Tee Burns, Mick Say, Rick Say, JT Gulley, Don Holman, and Ron Trull and others for golf in Naples, Fl. (see above). I also see a lot more brothers(20-30) at the Pi Kappa Phi golf outing at PSU the first week-end in August every year.
I retired on December 31, 2019. I bought a place in Boca Raton, Florida, sold one home in Pittsburgh, and still kept our place in Worcester, Mass near our two grandchildren.

It would be nice to see brothers from other years attend the Pi Kappa Phi Golf outing the first week-end in August."

Mr. George Herold ‘50

"As an alum, what do you see as the most valuable part of your Pi Kapp experience? Friendship, community, healthy place to live. A break from the rigors of study for this slow learner who ended up graduating with honors in chemical engineering which Pi Kapp supported.

I still have lunch every month with Fred Herold, my 93 year old blood brother (we both graduated in 1950) as well as my fraternity brother. He has kept in touch with many of our fellow fraternity brothers. I would also like to be in touch with former roommates, Ed Yeager, Hal O'Connor, Jack Eisenman, as well as others that might still be alive from the classes of 1948 through 1952.

I had a good career as a chemical engineer, with an MBA degree from Drexel, first on the technical side and later on the business side at Rohm and Haas, a large chemical specialty company. This included about 15 years in the international division when I helped set up many of the overseas plants of the company and visited them regularly. I retired in 1992.

I had four children, the oldest, my daughter, who sadly died at age 27, and three sons now in their 50s and 60s, who are leading good lives as a lawyer, a salesman and a teacher. My first wife, Anne, died at age 58 in 1990 after 37 years of a good marriage. I remarried to Cara in 1994 and we are happily married and surviving the pandemic here at home in Philadelphia. Through her daughter and my sons we have seven grandchildren."

David Kearney ‘69

"Being a Pi Kap did help me transition from a youth to an adult. I think much better than had I stayed in the dorms. Probably affected my grades negatively, though I learned enough to pass the Professional Engineering exam on the first try. Maybe helped develop some leadership. I never held major offices. I ran the intramural programs a couple of years and maybe was secretary one year. I did attend Pi Kap College at Roanoke College in 1969.

I have not communicated with any brothers from my era since I graduated 52 years ago. Not sure where any of them live. I do know that three are deceased.
I am retired. My main hobby is golf, and I have shot my age several times. I do not have any photos of Pi Kappa Phi circa 1969. Nobody had phone cameras back in the day. I did have a couple of Rose Ball photos and some Collegian sports photos of Pi Kap teams. We were very good in Basketball and Volleyball back in those years, even without many jocks as brothers. Unfortunately, the pictures got destroyed when our basement flooded from remnants of a hurricane around 2005.

My first visit back to the house was about 20 years after I graduated. That was the late 1980’s. I never came to any Penn State functions like football games, reunions, Arts Festival, etc. so I never had reason to stop by the house. It was upsetting that we were suspended. However, kudos to all involved with re-building Alpha Mu and getting it re-chartered."

Walter Rakowich ‘79

"The most valuable part of my experience as an alum is helping and seeing all of the active brothers thrive and become better individuals through their experience in the house. I hope they look back in 15 years and do their best to make someone else’s life more rewarding as well. It’s an incredible feeling!

We just had a zoom call with about 15 of my fellow brothers. Were it not for the Pandemic, we probably would not have done it. And it was a blast! It has certainly gotten us to think about what is important in life. And friendships are at the top of the list!

I am connected to at least 20 brothers and we converse via email just about every month. You know Tom Robinson who is one of them. So I would say that I’m in touch with the guys I need to be in touch with.

No new family news. Still live in Colorado in the summers and Naples Florida for most of the winter months."

Donald Woodrow ‘57

"I joined PiKap out of a teenager's angst. I wanted to be part of a group. The biggest thing I took away from the experience was friendships. I value very much my longterm connections with Bill Simon (now deceased) and John Schmucker. I talked with John and his wife Sue the other day. I have bumped into several other alumni over the years. 

I often think of Harry Holm strumming on a (guitar?) at the bottom of the stairwell and humming loudly. Har may have been the first person to make use of a loud OOOOMMMM, a tone later to become a hippy anthem. 

I remember Mrs. Bubb's cooking and how those of us tasked with cleaning up after a Saturday night party would eat all of the donuts before the others got up on Sunday. Bad feelings ensued. 

I remember one of the Deladon sisters coming to the house door one rainy night to ask me to run for a position as part of the State Party. She scared me and I said no. My life was really crowded at that time - making up for a bad sophomore Fall Term - by trying to ace everything while running year-round as Captain of the PSU Cross-country team and a major member of the indoor and outdoor track teams.

I remember going, while in NYC for a track meet, to Ebbets Field to watch PSU play another team. Headed back to the subway walking up Flatbush Ave, a gang formed on the other side of the street following us and yelling profanities at "you GD college guys." Thankfully we were all fleet of foot. 

People often ask fraternity alumni about "brotherhood." I have always found that to be a vague concept. I do remember and am thankful for: rooming in 3.5 west with Schmucker and Gordie Fetkenour (the drummer); a senior guy in the house who had to be awakened with utmost care otherwise he might hit you; friendships; studying; and the house being a haven. My other interests were running, geology friends, and the general sense of belonging at Penn State. 

From PSU, I went to work as a geologist for the VA Dept of Highways, from there to graduate work at Univ . of Rochester, NY. I got my MS and Phd there. Between MS and Phd: 23 months and 22 days in the Army at a lab at Fort Monmouth, NJ. Coupled with basic training at Fort Dix, my entire army service was in NJ.

I'm married, with two kids and 3 grandchildren. Faculty member at Hobart and William Smith College, Geneva, NY. Lots of geology publications and still active (note that this email comes to you from my USGS office in Menlo Park). Moved to Richmond, Ca in 2001. Cancer caught our son in 2007. Daughter is a PhD biochemist (Univ. of London) working for a startup biotech company in South SF. I teach geology part-time at Berkeley City College, Berkeley, CA. It's a good life."

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