Alumni Profiles

Geoff Hibner ’71
Kevin Comer ’71
Cary Wood ’89
Tim Jones ’05
Bill Wearly ’37
Andrew Stephens ’79
Grant Martin ’67
Jim Anderson ’07
Kevin Hall ’81
Kevin McCarter ’79
Andrew Maner ’91
Robert Toth ’81
Bill Elmore ’75
John Laurie ’86
Philip E. Nelson ’56
Matt Davenport, House Director
Mike Wells ’75
Ted Nordquist ’47
Jay Merrell ’82
Scott Hayes ’68

 

 

Geoff Hibner ’71

After graduation from Purdue, I spent four years in the Army and then attended the two-year MBA program at HBS. In the picture, I am sitting in exactly the same seat that I occupied for the first year of the program 36 years ago. The other two in the picture are section-mates, and are also sitting in the same seats they occupied 36 years ago.

Until 2007, I was the Chief Financial Officer of Banta Corporation, a publicly-traded company in the printing and supply-chain management businesses. The company was sold for $1.3 billion to the largest competitor in our industry. I am currently “retired”, but have done some consulting since 2007. I am currently consulting in corporate and financial strategy with a logistics and finance company here in Appleton, WI. I am also working, with several others, on creating the business model that will hopefully lead to the start-up of a new company later this year. We have the experience and expertise. We think we can gain commitments from a few key customers, which will then allow us to gain commitments from equity and mezzanine debt investors.

Beta Mu – Yes, I met my spouse thanks to my Beta membership. In fact, I met Betty Gene (Wheaton) at a sign painting party between the Beta and the Chi Omega pledge classes on the front lawn of the Beta house, on a Friday night before a home football game in September 1969. I was a junior (yes, I pledged during my soph. year) and she was a sophomore. To this day she kids me that she had her eye on Don LaFon, one of my pledge brothers, because he offered her a ride back to the Chi O house that evening in his MG sports car, but I persevered and won her heart. We dated for the next two years, until I graduated in June, 1971, was commissioned a 2d Lt., and went to Ft. Sill, Ok for my Artillery Officer Basis Course. I graduated in October, 1971 and was headed to Germany for my first assignment. By that time, Betty Gene was back at Purdue, starting her senior year. On my way from Ft. Sill to catch my plane for Germany, I stopped at Purdue for two days, and we got engaged. We were married the following summer, after she graduated, and she then returned with me for two more years in Germany. To this day, I tell everyone that I took her on a two-year honeymoon to Germany! Last July we celebrated our 40th anniversary! The attached picture is Betty Gene with our daughter, Kristin, in our kitchen this past Christmas.
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Kevin Comer ’71

Why did you join Beta as an undergraduate?
Fraternities were attractive organizations to join in 1967-68. I met a girl (Barb) who was in one of my English classes who was dating a Beta (they eventually married) by the name of Dave Pitman. She felt I would like the guys in that fraternity and would fit in with them. Her boyfriend, Dave, rushed me for the fraternity and after I accepted their bid, he later became my pledge dad.

What is the funniest memory from your Beta days?
There are probably many, but I remember I became engaged on Dec. 13, 1970 and the next night was wrapped in a blanket and taken to the Wabash River to be tossed in. To say the least, it was very frigid water and I remember losing my class ring in the process. Although I probably did not think this treatment was funny, I know my fraternity brothers did. They even felt bad about my losing my ring and offered to replace it.

What is the single fondest memory you have shared/will share with your children and grandchildren?
During my undergraduate years as Beta, Purdue had very good football and basketball teams. We beat Notre Dame three out of the fours year I attended Purdue and were nationally ranked and the Basketball team had five members of our fraternity on the Team (Billy Kellar, Chuck Bavis ‘70, Steve Longfellow ‘71, Jerry Johnson ‘70 and Frank Kaufman ‘71). In 1969 Purdue was national runner up to UCLA who was coached then by Beta Mu & Purdue Alumni,John Wooden ‘32. Bill Kellar, who was the starting guard on that team was also my pledge trainer.

How do you stay connected with your brothers as an alumnus?
I have served on the Beta Mu House Association Board for almost 40 years. Over those many years I have had an opportunity to reconnect with many fraternity brothers. It is amazing how many famous and successful alumni were Betas at Purdue.

Have you visited Purdue since graduation? Why or why not?
Yes, many times. I live in Kokomo, IN and go to Purdue for athletic events and Board meetings.

What about your membership in Beta makes you the most proud?
I learned many life skills that have molded me into the person I am today. Although I am not personally rich and famous, I believe the fraternity made me a better person from the many experiences I had.

How would your life be different today if you had never joined Beta?
I probably would not have as many friends and associates and never would have met as many outstanding people.

If you could go back and relive one moment from your Beta years, what would it be and why?
I really do not have too many regrets and most of the experiences I had during the Beta years were mostly positive.

Where has life taken you since graduation? What’s new in your life today?
I have had about four careers since leaving Purdue. I was a systems programmer for two large companies out of Purdue; I owned, operated and eventually sold a small wholesale company my father-in-law started; I later became a CPA and worked for a small CPA firm for five years and later worked for GM / Delphi Electronics for more than seventeen years. I am now three years retired.

Who do you stay connected with in your alumni years?
Are there any brothers you’ve lost touch with whom you’d like to reconnect? In today’s society it is really hard to keep in touch with everyone since society is so mobile. Because I have served on the Beta Mu House Association so long, I have reconnected and worked with many alumni during the years.

Why would you encourage other brothers to engage with Beta in their alumni years?
I am a little concerned that our younger alumni do not seem to have the desire to become involved with the fraternity and help perpetuate its mission and purpose. We have always had a very strong Board, but we really need the younger alumni to step-up and become involved, so our fraternity can continue to be the strong and active fraternity it has always been far into the future. I strongly recommend that any alumni who would like to become involved notify me or Cary Wood ‘89 about your desire. We are always seeking strong involvement from our alumni base.

What is the best thing about your alumni experience?
I believe the relationships with our alumni are what I seek most. I find it interesting to find out about our alumni and their families.

Connect with Kevin at kcomer111@aol.com.
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Cary Wood ’89

Giving of Time, Money and Even a Little Elbow Grease

House Association Vice President Tells Why He Feels He Owes the House for His Beta Mu Experience

Not knowing anything about the Greek system when entering Purdue, Cary Wood ’89 is now involved more than ever at Beta. He hopes that others will join his efforts to make Beta a house which hosts the outstanding students of Purdue.

Cary isn’t really sure why he initially joined Beta. He remembers walking across campus from Wiley and noticing the fraternity houses and how the guys looked like they were having fun. Then one day at the co-rec, Harry Freeman ’88 asked Cary if he was rushing. Carythought about it and took advantage of the opportunity to rush Beta. He just fell into a fraternity that provided him with memories of a lifetime.

It has taken Cary a long time to really understand the effect that being a member of Beta had on himself and his life. There was a moment in college that stands out for Cary that best represents the influence of Beta. Cary recalls this story, which may sound a bit corny, but is completely true. “I was out on the basketball court behind the house with Nick Pinchok ’87. I asked him if he really looked forward to graduating and he said, ‘Yep…I’m a Beta.’ It seemed such a passing line then, but it stuck with me. I’ll bet Nick doesn’t even know that, or remember the conversation. But it sure stuck with me.”

Being a Beta not only struck home with Cary, but also with his brother, Kyle Wood ’92. Kyle followed in his brother’s footsteps at Beta and may have even enjoyed that experience more than Cary. While Cary and Kyle both graduated from Purdue, their sister graduated a Gator from the University of Florida.

Some of Cary’s favorite moments now are spending time as a dad. He adores his daughter, who is now 18. She will be continuing the family tradition by entering Purdue this fall. His daughter is excited and Cary is excited for her. She has grown up seeing her father’s passion for the Greek system and is anxious to rush herself. Cary remarks that “I’ll be heading to campus with a different perspective this fall than ever before as a ‘Purdue Dad.’”

Cary is the Chief Operating Officer of a large, but privately held firm in Detroit, which specializes in the automotive world as well as heavy truck and off-road equipment. Over the last decade, he has worked with private equity firms to complete operating turn-arounds, recapitalizations, and Chapter 11 re-organizations. Cary works in a fast paced, high-stress environment, and finds that there is really never an end to his day.

With his volunteer obligations at Beta, Cary’s job doesn’t end when he gets home from the office. “Why do I choose to stay involved with Beta?” is a question that Cary seems to ask himself a lot these days. He travels extensively for work, and living between Detroitand Chicago can make it a challenge to get to the house for meetings. There was one occasion when Cary flew into Detroit on a delayed flight and then drove most of the night to be at a board meeting the next morning. He may often ask himself the question, but he chooses to stay involved because the positive outcomes at the house are definitely worth the effort.

A member of the alumni board for about three years, Cary has served as Vice President for the majority of that time. He fell into the opportunity at a time when the house census was low and the quality of some of the members wasn’t quite representative of Beta. Grades were declining, damages to the house were at an all-time high, and the future looked bleak. He had such a great experience at Beta that he decided to give his time, money, and some elbow grease to make things better.

Cary feels that staying involved with the fraternity is an obligation, “I owe this house.” Beta brought Cary a family in the friends that he made. He also believes that when things seem at their worst, that’s when it’s time to step up. “Hey, listen… There’s but a couple of thousand guys who came through this house in the last 80+ years. Who else is going to give to it?”

The capital campaign is an investment providing an environment for the continued growth of the house, the guys, and a guarantee for the future of Beta. The overall head-count in the house will finally bring it to a financial break-even point. A lot of work has gone into the campaign up to this point. The momentum is now growing and Cary wants to stay around to see it.

“The current Chapter President, Corey Mikula ’09, has done a great job in getting the guys to value the concept of self-governing,” he said. “Grades have also improved this semester and the last recruiting class was solid. In addition, the actives have a better understanding that the board doesn’t want to run the house, but it has to ‘grab the wheel’ when it seems the house has lost a bit of control.”

Beta has come a long way. Cary fixes broken companies for a living on behalf of private equity firms. “This has been a little like that, just a bit closer to my personal life.”

What is the last book you read?
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It’s an easy read. Other than work materials, I have little time to read. It’s a great short story about keeping your priorities straight.

What’s in your DVD player?
Nothing. I’m not much of a DVD watcher. If I do pull out a movie, It’s more than likely the Godfather series. As silly as it sounds, I pick up on something new every time I watch it.

Where are you vacationing this summer?
I don’t vacation much, but I’m fortunate to have a lake house in South Haven,Michigan. It’s peaceful. It’s a home away from home with great sunsets, a great view of Lake Michigan, and a great place to re-energize before another business trip.

What is the greatest thing you got from your Beta Experience?
Relationships. Great guys …. brothers. Aside from my only blood brother, I take my time at Beta as a big deal and view all the guys there, spanning the generations, as a brother.

In one word, describe your time at Beta Mu.
Memorable. I think back to my days in the house almost every day. Something always generates a thought or memory.
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Tim Jones ’05

Do you recall the Beta Theta Pi mission statement? “Beta Theta Pi is dedicated to building men of principle for a principled life. Our brotherhood aids the individual, builds the fraternity and strengthens the host academic institution through lifelong devotion to intellectual excellence, high standards of moral conduct and responsible citizenship.”

Now meet Tim Jones ’05, a young man who lives the Beta Theta Pi mission. Tim will graduate in December with a degree in industrial engineering and a GPA qualifying him for membership in Alpha Pi Mu, the industrial engineering honor society.

He served as the chapter’s corresponding secretary for two years, plus public relations chairman and pledge class president. He was the first Beta Mu to serve as Interfraternity Council president at Purdue (December 2003 to January 2005). Most recently, he has been chairman of the Purdue Tsunami Relief campus-wide fundraising event. Tim has twice been recognized as Beta of the Week, won last year’s Class of ’37 Scholarship and is even the current homecoming king.

This remarkable young man has already accepted a position – with the U.S. Navy. He will begin training in January 2006 as a naval flight officer.

A native of Evansville, Ind., Tim joined Beta Theta Pi because he was looking for a “home base,” a place for friendship that he could always come back to. He soon discovered the chapter was a great opportunity to hone his leadership skills, as well as to make friends and have fun.

“Beta Theta Pi has been a tremendous leadership experience,” he says. “But the biggest thing I have gotten out of it are the friendships. I’m convinced these guys are some of the best friends I will ever have.”

Tim’s IFC experience began in 2002 when he served as director of academics and oversaw an increase in the fraternity men’s overall GPA. As council vice president in 2003, he was responsible for the council’s communications, risk management and publications.

“I knew that if I was the hardest worker and did a good job that I would have a good chance at becoming council president,” Tim says. “Being IFC president is almost a fulltime job. I spent a lot of time meeting with different organizations, representatives of the university and law enforcement officials.”

Tim is most proud of the improvements he implemented with Greek Week. “We introduced many new activities, including a mud volleyball tournament and the return of Chapter of Chapters. All money from Greek Week goes to the United Way, which shows that the Greek community wants to give back. We raised more than $9,000 last year, as compared to $6,000 the year before.”

Tim’s successes as IFC president put the Beta Mu Chapter in the spotlight alongside him. “Our chapter started becoming more involved with the IFC, and now we have two people on the board of directors – Steve Schram ’06 and Greg Young ’06,” Tim says. “I also think my role helped with rush because it’s great proof of how involved our chapter is on campus.”

Academic excellence, service and friendship: They’re what fraternity and Beta Theta Pi are all about. They’re what Tim Jones is all about. Makes you proud, doesn’t it?
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Bill Wearly ’37

As a freshman pledge in 1933, Bill Wearly ’37 remembers on of their tasks was to bring the Beta Hack to the house. The hack was an old stagecoach the upperclassmen would ride in during Homecoming. The fraternity kept it hidden at a farmhouse throughout the year, and the night before Homecoming the pledges had to fetch it. “We were the horses, of course, when we were bringing it back to the house,” he chuckles. By tradition, the Phi Delts and Sigma Chis would try to steal it, and that night the Phi Delts showed up at the house with baseball bats. A fight began, but things took a swift turn around one or two in the morning. “All the Theta girls came out in their nighties, and of course it was more fun to chase the Theta girls than to fight us,” he says.

A few friends recommended him to be a Beta. “I chose Beta after I got there. That seemed to be the best one for me, and it worked out very well.” He remembers dining with the brothers, and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the house. The great room, with its three-story high ceiling and overlooking balcony, was well suited for the dances they held on weekends. “The band would play on the balcony overlooking the room,” he remembers.

When Bill lived in the house, there were 45 brothers all sleeping in a big dormitory. “It wasn’t crowded, it was quiet…you weren’t allowed to make any noise in there,” Bill remembers. Separate rooms were shared between two brothers and were used for studying and storing clothes and other personal items. He also recalls that there was no alcohol allowed in the house. “One guy was found with whiskey, and he was expelled from the fraternity,” he says. “Things have changed a lot.”

Bill’s roommate was Dan Morse. They had an engineering course together that taught them how a foundry worked. In a foundry, sand needs to be mixed with certain chemicals and a specific amount of water, and one class had them mixing the materials themselves. “Professor Toomy was a small, completely bald-headed man, and he got down on his hands and knees to check that we’d mixed the sand properly. Dan picked up a shovel and swung it at Professor Toomy to show off for a girl, not meaning to actually hit him, but he hit him on the butt and knocked his head into the sand,” Bill laughs.

One of Bill’s favorite memories is of a road trip he took to New York in 1936 to see the Purdue-Fordham football game. Garland Everist ’38, Jake Browning ’36, Dan Morse ’39, Bob Fontaine ’38, John Drake and Bill stopped at the Madhatten Room in the Pennsylvania Hotel for an evening of dinner and dancing. Benny Goodman was playing there; and John went up and asked if he would play “Hail Purdue.” “[Benny Goodman] said he wasn’t about to do it, so John Drake carried him out of the room,” Bill laughs. So I, being a trumpet player, went up and played ‘Hail Purdue’ with Benny Goodman’s band.” The boys were written up in the New York Times for their daring antics.

After graduation, Bill worked for Joy Manufacturing, a company that produced mining machinery in Pennsylvania. He became president at the age of 38. In 1962 he left the company to work for Ingersol-Rand, and was named chairman in 1967. The company had several large factories in England and did a lot of exporting. In appreciation for this business, the Queen honored Bill as a Commander of the British Empire, which is similar being knighted. “She is lovely,” Bill says. “And you know, you see her and you don’t realize it…she is most gracious.”

Bill retired in 1980, but served on several boards for the next ten years. He and his wife Jane moved to their vacation home in Arizona, where they currently reside. He has three daughters, one son, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. One of Bill’s favorite pastimes was sailing, and he used to do a lot of ocean sailing in Connecticut and Florida, including three Newport to Bermuda races. He golfs two to three times per week.
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Andrew Stephens ’79

Why did you join the fraternity?
I was not sure that I wanted to as a freshman. Hesitantly, I decided to rush my sophomore year, and when I found the Beta house I knew it was like no others at that time. No sport coat and tie at dinner, everyone was at ease with just being themselves. It felt right!

What was your favorite memory of the fraternity?
Our pledge class made the unfortunate mistake of showing up for our weekly Monday night line up without one of our fellow pledges. Our task master, whose last name I will only reveal as Lupfer ’79 chastised us (I’m being kind), and he (Tom) told us we better never show up without a pledge brother in the future because we needed to stick together, be a team, and think of ourselves as a cohesive unit (I’m embellishing a little here). So the next week, as we gathered at the bottom of the hill to get ready to march up for our weekly ritual,Greg Ramage ’79 (a fellow pledge) rallied everyone to skip the whole evening and just not show up at all… to demonstrate our cohesiveness, of course. Needless to say, the Beta house had every available brother out driving around looking for us all evening. It was fun while it lasted, but we regretted it the following week.

What kind of influence has Beta Theta Pi had on your life?
The Beta house had brothers from diverse backgrounds and interests that were competitive but supportive of each other. I felt that our fraternity was very different than the typical Greek house at Purdue. This attracted me to the house to begin with and I look back with a smile on my face, with no regrets and a lot of fond memories.

With whom do you stay in contact?
Kevin McCarter ’79, Rick Bond ’79 at times, and Greg Ramage. Unfortunately, Greg passed away recently from cancer. It had been a year since I had called him when I heard the news. What a wonderful person Greg was, and it made me realize the importance of making more of an effort as we live our lives, to do a better job of staying in touch with people we care about.

Tell us about your family.
I am married to a wonderful woman, Kim, for the past 22 years and we have been blessed with three boys. Once our third son was born, we knew we needed to move from Lincoln Park in Chicago to the suburbs to raise our children. We picked Hinsdale, Ill. Drew, our oldest, is a freshman at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. Kyle is a junior at Hinsdale Central, and Derek our youngest is in the eighth grade. We are in the process of reversing our lifestyle. I am throwing away our mower for a view of Lake Michigan: later this year we plan to move back to Chicago to the Loop at Millennium Park!

What other activities or organizations were you involved with during your college days?
I was intimately involved with a secret organization called the “physics lab” on Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. I hope they have long since outlawed that organization! I believe I had the honor of the being the first scholarship chairman ever elected at the Beta house. I recall that our average house grade point average (GPA) was not on a par with the number of our sports trophies. I decided to volunteer for the newly-created position because I figured the future trend had nowhere to go but up! You know: the rising tide lifts all boat theory…

What is your nickname and how did your get it?
I wish I had a fabulous nickname that I could reminisce upon, but the fact of the matter is that Kevin McCarter had the nerve to call me “Hank” all the time (I found it quite irritating). He figured out somewhere along the line that my middle name was Henry.

Did you live at the house? If so, who were your roommates? Tell us a memorable time with them.
I lived in the house only one year. I pledged as a sophomore, lived in the house my junior year, and was a floor counselor at Tarkington Hall my senior year. I had the best of all worlds with Purdue paying for my senior-year expenses and Beta house being a primary destination on weekends. If I had to divulge my roommates and memorable times, I would break my blood oath of secrecy after all these years. Ask me for an interview after the next 25 years.

What do you do for a living? Tell us about your career.
I graduated from Purdue in 1979 with a degree in civil engineering, decided not to be an engineer and took my first job with Dow Chemical in sales, and packed up my van and drove to LA. I was promoted with Dow the following year and was transferred to Chicago. A year later I decided the big company track was not for me. I quit and started brokering plastics out of my apartment in 1982. Lot of stories in between, but in 1999 I sold my plastic recycling company and a second company that extruded plastic profiles to a public company. After a year I let my non-compete run out and started a new extrusion company named Tangent Technologies LLC (www.tangentusa.com) in 2003. A manufacturing start-up sounds like a long shot in today’s world but I can attest it is possible and easier the second time around!

What affiliations do you currently have and/or public service do you participate in?
I am a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO) since 1993. Numerous industry affiliations, and various commissions and committees in my village of Hinsdale. Involved with PAC Emeritus, which mentors and supports young entrepreneurs.

What hobbies do you enjoy?
Always had a dream of flying, never had the time. I became a pilot last year and own a Piper Saratoga, which I hanger in Aurora, IL where my business is located. Travel is another love, which I can thank my wife for encouraging.
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Grant Martin ’67

Grant Martin ’67 credits Beta Theta Pi with making him a much better person than he would have been had he not been a Beta.

Growing up, Grant shared in the friendships that his father, Walter Edward Martin ’35 cherished from his years at Beta Mu. Dick Moore ’35, Warren “Ting” Tingley ’35, and Ed Sims ’35 were lifelong friends of his father. Grant holds fond memories of sailing on Lake Michigan and walking along the beach at Lake Bluff with Ed and his dad. Seeing his father enjoy the fruits of these friendships discovered so long ago encouraged Grant to continue the tradition and pledge Beta in 1963.

Walt had many stories that Grant could relate to in his own way. Some may remember the Beta Hack. In his father’s day, the Hack was a horse-drawn carriage that was hidden away in a local farmer’s barn. Grant recalls his father telling stories of how the other fraternities would look for ways to “steal” it before the horse and carriage could be showcased in the parade celebrating the first football game of the year.

A Beta Hack was still around when Grant attended Purdue. No longer a horse-drawn carriage, the Beta Hack was a fantastic, convertible school bus. The brothers painted it pink and blue, cut the top off while keeping the framework, and installed a canvas roof. Transporting brothers to serenades, home football games, and other events, this vehicle was the pride of Beta. No longer around, it is a tradition that Grant misses.

Not only did Grant create long-lasting memories at Beta Theta Pi, he also talks about the influence of the brothers in the house. Grant was in a tough position, going through pledgeship with just a handful of pledge brothers while living in the house. Although as a pledge he didn’t appreciate it at the time, the active brothers made him aware of his weaknesses and encouraged him to work on them. Looking back in time, Grant feels that having a houseful of concerned brothers who wanted to help him become a better person was a good influence in his life. Brothers of today are still living this principle through the fraternity-wide initiative, “Men of Principle,” helping brothers to become better people.

After graduation, Grant wasn’t sure exactly in which direction life would take him. Spending some time as a purchasing agent and three years with the Coast Guard, Grant finally determined that his calling in life was teaching. Loving science, he spent 27 years teaching the sciences at Amelia Middle School just outside of Cincinnati.

Grant retired in 2003 and moved to Indiana to be closer to his wife’s mother, who was living in her own house but needed some help from time to time. Living on Lake Freeman, Grant and his wife, Linda (Bowman, Kappa Kappa Gamma Purdue ’67), are able to enjoy their house on the lake.

Now that Grant was closer to Purdue than he had been in many years, he took the opportunity to return to Beta in 2003 for the Centennial Celebration, a homecoming of sorts. He saw some old friends and became more interested in house activities. Offering to help out, Grant started attending House Association meetings and became more involved in fraternity activities. Not long after, he was elected to the board of the Beta Mu Chapter House Association. Grant is now helping represent all of the alumni to make sure that the chapter remains strong and is around well into the future.

The Memorial Dragon project is one that is dear to Grant’s heart because of his memories of his father. A memorial to brothers who have fallen, a dragon will reside atop the 81-year-old house. Each of the brothers remembered will be honored on a plaque hanging in the Mezz.

One of Grant’s responsibilities on the board is contacting brothers regarding the capital campaign. Not only does it give Grant a chance to catch up with members of his era, it also allows him to talk about his much-loved house, which he finds as spectacular as ever. “Built before the Depression, it is one of the grandest fraternity houses in the country, if not THE grandest. Looking from the Mezz into the Big Room is one magnificent view. It is only through the generous support of alumni that the house can remain that impressive.”

All of this work can’t be done relying only on donations to the annual fund. Substantial gifts must be pledged in order to be able to complete these renovations. “With about $1.5 million in renovations left, we need the support of all alumni, especially those who have not yet donated. Give if you are able. The life of the fraternity depends on it.”

In addition to spending his retirement years involved in fraternity affairs, Grant is taking the time to enjoy some of his many hobbies, including astronomy, geology, photography, and nature study. He and Linda love boating and traveling. Recently, they had the chance to visit with Bill Torrance ’66 whileon the way through La Crosse, Wisconsin to visit their daughter Michelle and grandsons James and Hal in Northfield, Minnesota. Their other daughter, Amy, is also married and lives in Cincinnati. Grant just loves retirement and all it has to offer.
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Jim Anderson ’07

Jim Anderson, Beta Theta Pi’s current president, is the epitome of an overachiever. His vision for the future of the fraternity expands beyond his short tenure to improvements that will benefit years down the road.

Jim went into his presidency with little knowledge of the position he was taking on. With weeks of research and study, he was ready to implement ideas of his own. Jim felt that the lag time between election into a position and finally understanding what exactly you should do could be changed. By amending the Constitution and By-Laws, he hopes that those stepping up to leadership roles can become more efficient.

“The fraternity will benefit with change,” Jim says. He knows that the improvements he is making now “will shape what the fraternity will be like in two to three years down the road.”

An additional change Jim has made deals with the study time for pledges. “Last semester pledge grades were not great, we hope to improve our studying process,” Jim says. In the past, the pledges have all gathered together at a specified time for study sessions, but this semester, Jim decided to split them into groups based on majors. Brothers with the same major study with pledges, forming study support groups as well as new friendships. The new study process has a more flexible time schedule, which benefits both pledges and brothers.

Jim hopes for continuous improvement in many of the things Beta was founded on and strengths it had in the past. Athletics had become weak, so Jim decided to step up intramural sports involvement this year. The hard work paid off, as they currently in first place in intramurals.

Improving the fraternities GPA is another goal Jim is working toward. “We are currently above the campus all-men’s average and all-fraternity average, but we are not above the all-campus average,” Jim says. If the fraternity improves its average by a few tenths of a point, they would qualify for the Knox Award, given to elite chapters of Beta Theta Pi Fraternities.

Jim feels that the alumni turnout for Homecoming 2005 was outstanding, and says that plans are in the works for another fantastic golf outing this summer.
You’d think with all of the amendments and improvements Jim has contributed this year he would have little time for other activities outside of the fraternity. Think again. Jim is a junior in chemical engineering, with a minor in business management. He is the sole student representative for the Undergraduate Committee for chemical engineering, working with the dean of engineering, department heads, and guidance counselors. He also is the treasurer of AICHe (American Institute of Chemical Engineers).

He has worked continuously for Swift Enterprises, Ltd., for the past two years, a company which he says “makes things that move and explode.” He has developed a radical injector for pollution reduction in power plants, as well as invented a chemical generator. Jim developed the fuel to be used in the Mars rover for NASA. He has been the first author on two scientific papers, has two intellectual properties and two patents pending. These are just a few of the outstanding scientific achievements Jim has contributed so far.

Jim is captain of the Ready-Intense Practice Squad at Purdue, a basketball team that practices daily with the varsity women’s basketball team. The team memorizes the opposing team’s plays to help the women practice each week.

In the Beta Mu chapter of Beta Theta Pi, Jim has been pledge scholarship and Assistant Treasurer.

Jim’s favorite part of Beta is the brotherhood it has provided him. “I like to just hang out and sit around with my best friends,” he says. Jim feels comfortable around his frat brothers, and he enjoying spending the little free time he has just laid back with the boys.

After his presidency is over, Jim plans to live in the house for his senior year and help mentor the incoming president. He hopes to run and hold office, with the possibility of becoming pledge educator.
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Kevin Hall ’81

Why did you join the fraternity?
I decided to join a fraternity because it seemed to be the only way to have a well-rounded life at Purdue. I joined Beta specifically because my father was a Beta at Columbia University, which apparently is why I got in; and, while I was looking at houses to join, they were by far the most normal, fun guys, and the ones I felt were most like me (maybe coincidentally, there were a few brothers from my hometown in Ohio).

The house was cool, the brothers seemed worldly and experienced, and the other potential pledges I met were great… we seemed to accept bids together. Eric Wilson ’80, Mark Johanson ’80, Tom Krajewski ’81, Bill Moss ’81, and Marc Fooksman ’81 were guys I met during the pledging process.

What was your favorite memory of the fraternity?
You’re kidding… a zillion favorites. Of course, they all involve the many clever, athletic, exotic, and very sociable characters with whom I lived with for three years. We had an outstanding group and we all lived in the house for the duration of our time at Purdue.

All the traditions were great: football with a sorority, house dances, pajama party with the Phi Mus, Pimp and Whore with the Pi Phis, slip-and-slide down suicide hill in the back, Tri X on Sunday, intramural championships!!

What kind of influence has this had on your life?
All I can say is that practicing to be well-rounded–scholastics, sports and social–is a great way to set yourself up for business and life.

With whom do you stay in contact?
I’ve lived in CA since graduation and got lost in the world of high-tech for awhile, but I’ve grown older out here with Tom Krajewski, Mark Johanson, Scott White ’84, and Larry Link ’82. I use to work with and/or see Bob Davis ’80 and Tom Lupfer ’79, but it’s been awhile. I see Bill Moss on his trips to CA, and have joined the annual reunions of Rob McKay ’81, Doug Meeker ’82, Jay Merrell ’82 and Moss/Krajewski a couple times.

Tell us about your family.
I have a son who recently graduated from UCLA in aeronautical engineering. He is a pilot and hopes to eventually join a company to build personal jets. I want him to design a jetpack for me!

What other activities or organizations were you involved with during your college days?
I played Purdue Soccer, and had a brief stint with the baseball team before I realized that I would never graduate. I was Rush Chairman at the house one year, which was a fabulous, challenging experience. And, of course, I was co-scholarship chairman my senior year.

What is your nickname and how did your get it?
I tried to stay below the nickname radar, because they tended to be on the biting side…which means I preferred to help create them for others.

Did you live at the house? If so, who were your roommates? Tell us a memorable time with them.
I lived at the house for three years. Marc Fooksman, Eric Wilson and Tom Krajewski were my roommates, in that order. Marc and I grew up together since we were six years old, so it was great to break into fraternity life with someone I had been close to for so long. We were great teammates on the soccer team; we had a couple great seasons and even gave the national champions, Indiana University, a run for their money.

Eric and I shared pretty much all the same interests, and the desire not to keep our room very clean; we made late-night food runs just about every evening, the 24-hour drive-through donut shop in Lafayette was our favorite.

Tom built us a palace of a room that stands pretty much the same today. We dominated as a two-man team on the hoop court in the back of the house, and we probably still would. We are still great friends.

What do you do for a living?
I am a venture capitalist. I invest in early-stage companies and land development. Most of my career was dedicated to high technology start-ups.

What affiliations do you currently have and/or public service do you participate in?
I am an active philanthropist, supporting family crisis centers and sustainable conservation.

What hobbies do you enjoy?
I spend most of my spare time doing something physically active. Basketball and bike riding are my favorites.

What are your goals for the next few years?
I’m not really a planner. I take things as they come. My main goal is always to spend more fun time with family and friends.

What are your hopes for the future of Beta Theta Pi?
I hope they are given enough freedom to make decisions on how they want to live together; and for them to respect the house and themselves enough to self-police their actions effectively.
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Kevin McCarter ’79

Why did you join the fraternity?
Jim Zeglis ’77, whom I had known since we were about twelve from Culver Military Academy, asked me to come to a rush function. I hadn’t thought about joining a fraternity, but quickly became interested.

What was your favorite memory of the fraternity?
There are dozens of great memories, but out of respect for other parents, I had better not share many of them. I recall someone building a huge slingshot out of surgical tubing and three men lobbing water balloons down the hill. They had it “dialed in” so it would hit cars at the stop light. Eventually, they hit a police car, who threatened to arrest me until somebody else came clean. We also had tons of fun with Grand Prix, Battle of the Bands, Thursday night keggers, etc. We played a lot of double-deck euchre for $.05 per point. I think Tom Heed ’80 and Tom Lupfer ’79 still owe me money!

What kind of influence has this had on your life?
Beta was important in my development. I was from a small farm town and my “life experiences” were limited. At Beta, we didn’t have house mothers or lots of babysitters. We had to manage the house, our own affairs, budgets, and the like. Leaders usually emerge from environments like that. I really benefitted from being around some smart, successful young men and their parents. I soaked it up and learned lots from them. But we all had a ton of fun in the process.

With whom do you stay in contact?
I helped raise money for the Capital Campaign and got in touch with lots of my “era” guys. We must be old now that we have “an era.” I had forgotten how well those guys could dance until I asked them for some money! Andy Stephens ’79, Rick Bond ’79, Fred Jones ’79, Tom Stine ’78, Eric Wilson ’80, and Jim Zeglis are guys that stepped-up then, and they’re guys with whom I routinely keep in touch.

In addition, I talk to Rick Steel ’80, Rick Watson ’76, and a number of others several times a year. We lost Greg Ramage ’79 a couple of years ago to cancer. He was a great guy, a real self-made, boot-strapper kind of man. You should do a write-up on him. He’s what Beta is about.

Tell us about your family.

Dianne and I have been married over 27 years. (Don’t I get a watch or some kind of service award?) Seriously, she’s been a great life-partner and very supportive of all the moving we did with Mobil. She was ready and willing to “bet the ranch” when I bought Boncosky Oil in 1995. The truth is, most women aren’t willing to take that kind of risk.

We have three kids. Jon (22) is a junior, studying business at Eastern Illinois and is a Sigma Chi. They don’t have a Beta chapter there. Kristin (20) is a junior at Belmont University in Nashville. She’s studying public relations and has been active in Republican politics and Alpha Gamma Delta. (Jeff Joslin’s ’79 son, Cal, also goes there.) Lauren (16) is a junior in high school. All good kids, and a great family. We’re very lucky.

What other activities or organizations were you involved with during your college days?
Really, beyond studying engineering and being a Beta, that’s about it during college. Guess I was a lazy slug back then.

What is your nickname and how did your get it?
Mac. My dad’s name was Mac and I consider it an honor for some of my closest friends to call me that. He was a great man. One of those “Greatest Generation” guys. Also a Purdue grad.

Did you live at the house? If so, who were your roommates? Tell us a memorable time with them.
Jim Zeglis, Rick Bond, and Andy Stevens were my roommates. I always roomed with guys who were smarter than me because they chose earlier in “room jock.” Come to think of it, that same formula has worked well for me in business, too!

What do you do for a living?
I’m CEO and the largest shareholder of PetroLiance LLC, an oil distribution company that operates in Illinois, Ohio, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. Three close buddies and I formed PetroLiance in June of last year by merging our four companies. It’s an exciting time, for sure.

What affiliations do you currently have and/or public service do you participate in?
I’ve been active and on the boards of the United Way, the Elgin Special Youth Foundation and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. (Didn’t see that Symphony Orchestra bit coming, did you?)

What hobbies do you enjoy?
I’m mainly into scuba diving, golf, and taking cruises with the family.

What are your goals for the next few years?
PetroLiance is positioned to become an industry consolidator, so our strategy is to buy other oil distributors, grow the company significantly (double or triple) over the next five to eight years, then sell it. Our plan is all built around our exit strategy, which hopefully has a “happy ending” in about 5-8 years. The nominal plan is to retire then, though I doubt that will last long. Maybe I’ll look for some “turnaround” opportunities to fix, sell, or liquidate troubled companies. That always sounded like fun to me.
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Andrew Maner ’91

Andrew ManerThe quality of the men of Beta Mu Chapter drew Andrew Maner ’91 to join the brotherhood that would bring him lifetime friendships and bolster his confidence to succeed.

Andy learned many lessons from his time in the Chapter House, including how to make many strong and different personalities work together. “You don’t get the right to be unapproachable, or mean, or crass. It’s just like the workplace; you can disagree with people but you cannot withdraw—you need to engage in your own positive way.”

A large part of the Beta Mu experience was the opportunity to connect with alumni. Andy enjoyed meeting brothers who had graduated and were doing well in their careers. “They were in the center of the fairway rather than bouncing off the walls. [Meeting successful alumni] was a big motivator for younger guys,” he said.

A favorite memory of Andy’s time in the Chapter House is the laughter. “As you go on in life, everything seems to get more serious, but when you get together with people from back then the innocence and the laughter comes back like it never left,” he said.

Andy earned a B.A. in political science and communication and later his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He is now the managing partner of U.S. Federal within IBM Global Business Services. He has had a successful career in government and business including recent positions of CEO at National Interest Security Company, appointed by President George W. Bush as chief financial officer at U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Being a Beta impacted Andy’s career path by providing him with a sense of community that helped develop his confidence. He was able to thrive from being around men with leadership potential and a strong moral compass. The brotherhood helped him develop a confidence and sense of purpose.

Andy makes a point to visit campus regularly, and he keeps in touch with brothers from several pledge classes. He encourages his fellow Betas to reach out and get back in touch. “I think everyone goes through phases, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve been silent for 20 years as long as there is still some sort of connection to the Chapter.” Now more than ever, he sees this is the time to get involved. “The Chapter has had a near death experience and requires some additional activity and help. It doesn’t matter where people have been in their journey, hopefully everyone can do something,” he said.

Andy and his wife, Julie, live in Washington, D.C., with their three sons. He enjoys an active lifestyle playing hockey and golf. You can contact him at andrew.maner@verizon.net.

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Robert Toth ’81

Bob TothWhen Robert Toth ’81 made the decision to pledge Beta Mu, he was drawn to the character, integrity, and what he calls “pride without arrogance” of the Chapter members. He describes his Chapter as a great group of individuals who share common values, especially having respect for one another. “It was a point of pride to be a part of Beta at Purdue,” Bob said.

Bob studied industrial management with a minor in industrial engineering. He has had a successful career in a variety of technical businesses, including nearly 20 years at Monsanto and later president and CEO of CP Kelco for nearly five years. Since 2005, he has been president and CEO of Polypore (NYSE: PPO), a company that specializes in microporous membranes found in a variety of products ranging from consumer electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets to healthcare products such as blood oxygenation membranes providing the functionality of the artificial lung during heart procedures.

He is grateful to Beta Theta Pi for showing him the value of leadership and providing opportunities to interact with and learn from a diverse group of people. “Betas are a great group of individuals with drive, ambition, and integrity,” Bob said. Living in the Chapter House had many advantages, such as the “constructive competition” of keeping up with grades and providing the drive to excel at everything. “I think Beta Theta Pi created camaraderie and a common bond between individuals from diverse backgrounds, yet all sharing a common set of values.”

Bob’s wife, Collette, was a Pi Beta Phi at Purdue. The couple has instilled a love of their alma mater in their two daughters. One is pursuing an MBA at Purdue, while the other, a senior in high school, has her sights set on attending Purdue next fall.

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Bill Elmore ’75

Bill Elmore ’75 was drawn to Beta Theta Pi by the quality of the brothers and the impressive Chapter House on the hill on Littleton Street, where he was one of four late recruits to the pledge class of 1972. He felt a sense of camaraderie with his new member class, which has since grown into lifelong friendships.

Bill lived in the Chapter House for four years while earning a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering. After graduating from Purdue, Bill moved to California and worked for the computer division of HP. He has since had a successful career in venture capital, having founded Foundation Capital in 1995, with the purpose of helping entrepreneurs build strong organizations from the ground up.

Beta has helped Bill in his career by giving him a foundation of people skills, acquired by living among a variety of personalities in the Beta Mu house. “In my career, it is important to be able to work with and interact with a wide range of high-quality people. I began to realize these skills in Beta Theta Pi, living and socializing with men in the Chapter and recruiting future brothers.”

The lifetime of brotherhood is important to Bill, and he hopes that the incoming new member class remembers that their experience with Beta doesn’t end after their four years at Purdue. Bill practices this by keeping in touch with his Beta Mu brothers. Recently, Bill joined a number of brothers at an event in Indianapolis, hosted by Bruce White ’75, and attended the Homecoming event at the Birck Golf complex. Bill’s Beta roommate, Todd Grove’75, majored in aviation technology and taught Bill how to fly during their undergraduate years. Bill has continued the hobby to this day and was able to fly back for Purdue Homecoming this year.

The capital campaign has given Bill the opportunity to show his support for Beta Mu. “It’s important to give back to those organizations that have had a positive impact on your life. Since I graduated, nearly a thousand Beta Mus have been through the Chapter House. I hope we will all see this contribution as having an impact on at least the next thousand Beta Mus, many of whom will go on to make significant contributions to their families, communities, and their nation.”

Bill encourages his fellow alumni to get involved. “This is the most significant capital campaign in the history of Beta Mu Chapter. Now is the time to get involved. Come back and visit the Chapter House. Contact one of your Beta brothers and have lunch or dinner. Think back on what it means to you and contribute what you can.”

Bill has three children and lives in Palo Alto, California. Favorite pastimes include flying, skiing, and hiking. You can contact Bill at belmore@foundationcap.com.

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John Laurie ’86

Q: Why did you decide to join Beta Theta Pi?

A: I was amazed and in awe at the aesthetic beauty of the house. It was a castle! The camaraderie displayed by all the brothers and the zest for life that they all exuded was catching. When I came to Purdue, I only rushed Beta. This was the place for me.

Q: If you could relive one college memory, what would it be?

A: I would choose to go back and sit down for lunch! Whether it was retelling the social exploits from the past weekend, exaggerating the most recent sporting event, or planning how to tackle the next academic challenge, the lunch room was always a beehive of activity and always had a plethora of personalities on display. I was consistently astounded with the talents, capabilities, and diversity of my Fraternity brothers.

Q: How do you stay involved as an alumnus?

A: I have been an active participant of the alumni board. My primary responsibility has been heading up two alumni events each year—Homecoming and the Stag event. Both events have grown in popularity and have been a real labor of love for me. I also stay in contact with many of my Fraternity brothers. I am fortunate enough to work with Steve Klinger ’86, so, I see him on a weekly basis. I also keep in close touch with Nick Pinchok ’97, Jim Ford ’88, Mike Kinder ’86, John McRoberts ’89, and Scott Attar ’91.

Q: Why did you feel it was important to support the Return to Dominance campaign?

A: When the Beta Chapter was removed from Purdue’s campus, I felt like an important part of my past and an important part of me was gone; wiped out. I selfishly wanted to get it reestablished because of what it meant to me. The castle at 150 Littleton Street is a magical place, and it has acted as glue and a rendezvous destination for me and my best friends for the past 30 years! But not so selfishly, I also wanted to make sure other young men had the same opportunity to have the life-changing experience that I had at the Purdue Beta house. Well maybe this one is also a little selfish, because one of those young men will hopefully be my son, Xander Laurie, in 2027. I would like nothing more than for him to be a Beta Mu brother.

Q: What would you say to encourage others to contribute to the campaign?

A: I would strongly encourage them to come visit the house. Once they see firsthand the leadership the House Association is providing (Cary Wood ’89), the enthusiasm and vitality of the new active Beta Mu brothers, and the remodeled beauty of our Chapter House, I am confident they will commit to supporting the campaign. The time is now. This is the most critical time in the history of our Fraternity on Purdue’s campus. We need our brothers to rally behind this great organization.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I am excited about the future of the Beta Mu Chapter. I can’t wait to see the remodeled Chapter House and meet the new outstanding young men who are going to lead the Fraternity back to dominance on Purdue’s campus! I hated we had to go through this dark period, but the resilience, commitment, and love shown for this place by the alumni has been energizing. I am so thankful to the leadership Cary Wood has provided to us through this difficult time. I cannot think of a better Beta brother to fill this role. We’re back! I could not be happier about saying that!

John may be reached via e-mail at john.laurie@jacklauriegroup.com.

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Philip E. Nelson ’56

Philip Nelson ’56 grew up a farm boy. His family owned a small tomato canning operation in Indiana, and growing up, the expectation was for him to take care of the farm. By the time Philip was old enough to attend college, he had only been outside of the state one time, so you can imagine the overwhelming feeling walking on Purdue’s campus for the first time.

Philip was briefly exposed to Greek life by his brother-in-law, a Beta at Indiana University. So when he arrived at Purdue, he sought out the Fraternity. He, along with three others, were the sole members of that spring’s pledge class. Later known as “The Mystic Four,” Philip and his new brothers became very close and share an experience not many before, or since, can say they have.

“Since there were only four of us, we did almost everything together,” said Philip “We were welcomed wholeheartedly by the other Betas and that feeling made my time at Beta Mu extremely enjoyable. My level of confidence increased significantly during those years. Beta was recognized as one of the top fraternities on campus, so that definitely helped. I was a member of Purdue’s glee club as an undergraduate, so that took me away a lot, but I always felt supported and like part of a family. I had no idea how much being a part of the Chapter would impact my future.”

Philip graduated from Purdue with a B.S. in horticulture and later returned to earn his Ph.D. Not long after, he began teaching at the University in the Horticulture Department. During Philip’s impressive 50 years at Purdue, he was involved with many outstanding accomplishments, including the creation of the Department of Food Science (of which he was department head for 20 years), the initiation of the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, and being selected to receive the World Food Prize (“It’s the Nobel Prize of agriculture.”) to name a few. Upon retirement, Purdue’s trustees named the food science building on campus the Philip E. Nelson Hall of Food Science to honor his successful years of service to the University.

“I didn’t plan my future—it just happened. But I was prepared for it. You must always remember to prepare yourself to take advantage of what might come along. As you move through life, you will make mistakes and unexpected things will happen that knock you down. But getting knocked down is not failing. It’s staying down that’s the failure. You must always get up and continue moving forward.

“My relationship with Beta Theta Pi mirrors that sentiment. I was a faculty advisor in the ’60s and that was a time when fraternities began taking a turn for the worse. I had to walk away because I did not like seeing Beta decline in the ways it was. But now I see things returning to the way they were when I first began my membership and am willing to start again­—Beta was knocked down, brushed itself off and marched forward. I’d like to give young men the same opportunity to find their way in life as I had, and giving to Beta Mu’s campaign is the way to do so. It’s comforting to see the hope for the future of these bright students, and I’m confident Beta can do the job.”

Philip and his wife of 60 years, Sue, live in Pellston, Michigan. The two met on Sue’s first night on campus. Philip was a junior at the time and, later, Sue was a Theta living next door. Philip and Sue have three children: Jennifer, Andy, and Brad; and eight grandchildren. Philip is proud to report that two of his granddaughters—originally from Michigan—are paying out-of-state tuition to attend Purdue and study food science. They’re also both members of Kappa Alpha Theta.

Now that he is retired, Philip enjoys traveling, photography, and spending time with family. You can contact Philip at pen@purdue.edu.

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Get to Know Beta Mu’s House Director, Matt Davenport

MattDavenportShare a bit of your background.

I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I received my undergraduate degree in communications from John Carroll University and my master’s in higher education administration from Washington State University. I’ve worked at Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana; Washington State University in Pullman, Washington; New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Purdue University in West Lafayette.

What do you do professionally? What are some highlights of your career?

I am a residential life assistant director for Legacy Lane at Purdue University, creating a strategic vision for a neighborhood that consists of predominately 3,200 first-year students, 100 staff members, learning communities, a University residence support system, and the Honors College. I also recruit professional and paraprofessional staff members, as well as periodically travel with the office of admissions to recruit new students to Purdue.

Some highlights of my career have been winning numerous awards such as the Bill Berner Award for Outstanding Staff Achievement, the Residential Education Director of the Year Award, Staff of the Year Award, Community of the Year Award, Advisor of the Year Award, and Hall of the Year Award.

How did you become affiliated with Beta Theta Pi?

Beta was returning to Purdue’s campus and I had a meeting with Jack Jajewski to learn more about the Fraternity. Jack shared Beta’s five core values and that they were men of principle. He sold me on the idea of Beta being different than other fraternities across the country. I love working with strong student leaders who truly want to make an impact and be change makers, so after hearing what Beta was about, I let Jack know that I was interested in joining the advising team. The experience has definitely been rewarding and has allowed me to grow personally as I work with a different group of student leaders. I started off advising the VP of recruitment. A few months into the role, our chapter counselor received a promotion and I took on the role. I’m honored to have been selected to work so closely with an amazing group of men, advisors, and housing board.

What goals do you have for the future of Beta Mu?

I had the privilege of being a part of Beta Mu with the new founding fathers experience. Individually, they are very talented and gifted men and my goal for them is to become a unified brotherhood; one with a shared vision, a true identity, and that is continuously making positive impacts on Purdue’s campus. I hope I can help them do this by having conversations that require them to critically think and creatively act. I want to lead by example when it comes to building relationships, whether that’s offering rides to new members because they live on campus and they don’t have cars; allowing a Beta to use my car to get his driver’s license; or spending quality time listening to their thoughts and life experiences. I hope to show how powerful a relationship can be and how those bonds lead to lifelong friendships.

How would you encourage alumni who may not have made a contribution to the campaign yet to do so?

Co-Founder of Legacy Project, Susan Bosak, said it best: “Where do you think it’s best to plant a young tree: a clearing in an old-growth forest or an open field? Ecologists tell us that a young tree grows better when it’s planted in an area with older trees. The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the young tree are able to follow the pathways created by former trees and implant themselves more deeply. Over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an intricate, interdependent foundation hidden under the ground. In this way, stronger trees share resources with weaker ones so that the whole forest becomes healthier. That’s legacy: an interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before us and a responsibility to those who come after us.”

Matt lives in West Lafayette and enjoys movies, singing (both writing and performing—his claim to fame is that he’s sung the national anthem at all five institutions he’s been associated with at multiple sporting events), long walks on the beach, moonlight dinners, going to the gym, traveling whenever he can, meeting new people, and spending time with friends and family. You can contact Matt at davenpom@purdue.edu.

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Mike Wells ’75 on Returning Beta to Dominance

mikeMike Wells ’75 took a year to himself at Purdue before committing to Greek life. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he joined Beta Theta Pi. The year before, he met a few Betas on campus and was very impressed with them and the house whenever he visited. When he moved in, the house was in fantastic shape and Mike began to form lifelong friendships.

Over the years, Mike’s relationships grew. He still keeps in touch with many alumni almost daily. Bruce White ’75 and Steve Poe ’77 are his significant business partners and he serves on the Purdue Research Foundation with another Beta Mu alumnus, Bill Elmore ’75. “The friendships I made during my Beta years have helped me in building my career and the success that I’ve enjoyed.”

As Mike’s relationships strengthened, the house where they started began to fall into disrepair. So when the opportunity to bring it back to life came about, Mike and several other dedicated alumni stepped up to do their part. “Knowing other alumni contributed to make the house great for me as an undergraduate, I wanted to do the same for those who follow me. Times have changed and the house needs to continue changing and improving as well.

“I had no idea at the time what a significant impact those years would have on me. Joining Beta Theta Pi was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I’m certain Beta Mu gave much to other alumni as it did me, and we have a responsibility to continue those rich traditions at the Beta house. I am extremely impressed with the caliber of brothers in the Chapter today, and will do whatever I can to contribute to their success.”

Mike and his wife, Annie, live in Indianapolis and have three children (all of whom live in Indy as well) and six grandchildren. He owns REI Real Estate Services, LLC, and has been involved in the development of many significant projects, including the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, JW Marriott Indianapolis, Emmis Corporate Headquarters, Anthem Operations Center, and other hotels in Austin, Louisville, Bloomington, Denver, and Salt Lake City. In his spare time, Mike enjoys hiking, golfing, and spending time at his vacation home in Winter Park, Colorado. You can contact Mike at mwells@reirealestate.com.

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A Memorial to a Friend
Davis “Dave” Shryer ’47 Shares the Story of Beta Brother Ted Nordquist ’47

Enrolling at Purdue as a freshman in September of 1940, I moved into a brand-new dorm building, Cary Hall West. Forming three-fourths of a quadrangle with East and South dorm wings, they were the main dorms for male students.

I was assigned a room and I slowly made acquaintance with some dorm floor companions. I did not notice Ted Nordquist ’47 until I went out for the freshman swimming team. Purdue only had one or two scholarship spots for swimming and diving. As the coach addressed his new candidates, he identified several by their high school or AAU performances. When he singled out Ted as a state medal winner in breaststroke and low board diving, I recognized Ted as someone from my dorm. We walked back to our rooms together and formed a strong friendship in the following weeks.

Ted was from Gary, Indiana, where he had attended and swum competitively for Horace Mann High School. Ted and I bonded, taught each other to drink five cent glasses of beer with 15 cent shots of cheap whiskey, and with John Swenson ’47, another Cary Hall resident, we joined Beta Theta Pi in our second semester. Ted and John were engineering students and I was enrolled in the school of science.

The three of us moved into the Chapter House in September 1941, and were nursing post-initiation hangovers on Sunday, December 7, when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced. Everything changed at that moment and many students adopted a fatalistic attitude about their future. Ted and John roomed together and played a little too hard. They were on academic probation by spring 1942 and were required to move out of the Chapter House until their grades improved.

Both Ted and John buckled down in the summer session of 1942, and were back in the Chapter House by September. But as more and more Fraternity brothers and friends were called to service, and as Ted’s grades started to slide, he and John both enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Before enlisting, Ted went home to Gary and married his high school sweetheart, Maxine Winsor.

I never saw John again, as his B-17 was shot down over Mannheim/Ludwigschafen in 1945. I knew through bits and pieces of news that Ted had survived being shot down twice in his P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter, and though suffering burns, completed more than 50 combat missions. I stayed in school until my ROTC class was called up in March of 1943.

I returned to Purdue in spring of 1946 with my wife of two years, Mary, and we moved into a rented duplex at 336 S. Chauncey St. There we shared our half of the duplex with Faye and Jackson O’Connell. Campus student housing was extremely tight as GI returners poured back to school on the GI Bill.

I visited the Chapter House a few times to check on the status of returning classmates. Many were still unmarried and moved back into the house. From one of them I learned that Ted and Maxine lived in a trailer just around the corner from us. Our friendship was renewed and we shared meals, beer, and bridge games that summer of ’46 and through the ’46-’47 school year. We also went together occasionally to Purdue football and basketball games.

Purdue football and basketball teams were no longer the powerhouses of the 1930s, but we were loyal, and on the night of February 20, 1947, Mary and I walked across campus to the Field House, where Purdue would play Wisconsin. If Purdue could win this game, and the one or two other games left on the schedule, they might share in the Big Ten title.

We sat in the student section of the gigantic wooden bleachers 60 rows high that the university had installed to accommodate postwar enrollment. The game was close and, I believe, Wisconsin led by just a point as the half ended. As fans started to rise to go outside and smoke or seek refreshment, our bleacher section collapsed and sank slowly to the ground! Mary’s quick thinking made her raise her feet to avoid their being crushed. I did not, but was fortunate to have only a slight bruise on my right foot.

Once we ascertained that we were unhurt and no one around us appeared to need help, we looked for a way to safely exit the building. We found that despite much confusion, pain, and shock, the crowd sensed that an orderly exit process must take place. Miraculously it did. The basketball game obviously was over. Some of the players were helping injured spectators, and the PA system urged everyone to leave the building and let professional rescuers take over.

As we left through the chaotic crowds we encountered Bob Senour ’48, who asked if we had seen Ted, who had exited a bit early for a smoke. The walk back to our house was in a daze of worry, confusion, and uncertainty. Our housemates, who had not gone to the game, were worried beyond belief until we showed up. We had been sitting for perhaps 15 minutes sipping bourbon when the doorbell rang. Their stood Bob grimacing with the news that Ted had been trapped under the falling bleachers and was badly injured. He was in Home Hospital across the city but not expected to live.

We immediately dashed across town by bus to Home Hospital to join Maxine and other family members of injured students and faculty. Despite prayers and hopes, Ted’s injuries (four broken limbs and a crushed chest) were not survivable. He died the next morning. A few days later I joined with several Beta brothers as a pallbearer at his funeral. We stayed in contact with Maxine for several years, until she remarried and went to Africa as a missionary’s spouse.

The cruel irony of Ted’s surviving horrible wartime combat injuries only to die soon after the war, while attending a sports event, has never escaped me. I’ll remember his friendship forever.

Editor’s Note: Dave Shryer graduated from Purdue in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He spent the majority of his career with the 3M Company in marketing and sales in industrial chemicals. He and Mary have since divorced. Dave and Margaret Kramer Shryer have been married for 49 years, and they live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Jay Merrell ’82 Celebrates Three Generations of Beta Mu Men

Jay Merrell ’82 spent quite a bit of time at the Beta Mu house long before he became a member. Growing up, he would accompany his father, John ’50, to Purdue football games and other events, which exposed him to fraternity life early on.

Now Jay is a father of two Beta Mus, Andrew ’14 and Dan ’15, who are keeping the Merrell legacy alive. “We are all very proud of our legacy at Beta Mu and with Beta Theta Pi. I find Beta Mu to be a great place for young men to develop life skills and cultivate lifelong relationships. That’s what it did for me as an undergraduate. It’s our job as alumni to keep that tradition alive and well for future generations of young men.”

Jay and his wife, Anne, have been married for 28 years. In addition to Andrew and Dan, they have two other children, John and Catherine. Jay works for Industrial Dielectrics Inc. managing all environmental health and safety for their global businesses. His career highlights include working with his dad for more than 20 years and serving as chairman at American Composite Manufacturers Association, which is the world’s largest trade association serving the composites industry.

When he’s not working, Jay enjoys traveling and taking part in outdoor activities. He also remains in touch with a handful of his Beta Mu brothers from early ’80s classes. “We still laugh at the same stories about our friends and the things we did. My membership in Beta Theta Pi was a great experience, and still is.”

You can connect with Jay at jmerrell@idicomposites.com.
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Scott Hayes ’68 Believes Beta Is Head and Shoulders above the Rest

Scott Hayes ’68 was immediately impressed with Beta Theta Pi during recruitment. From the members he met at the house to the house itself, Beta Mu displayed a sense of high quality.

As Scott progressed as an undergraduate, numerous leadership opportunities arose that gave him a sense of confidence and pride. “I didn’t want to fail or bring embarrassment to myself or the Chapter,” Scott said. “I was fortunate to have many friends in the house who were also in leadership roles, which helped motivate me to excel and fulfill my responsibilities successfully. There were also many upperclassmen—Dave Byrne ’65, Dave Rose ’67, Dane Tubergen ’67, John Carroll ’67, John Mitchell ’67, and Jeff Latchaw ’67—who I looked up to and who were great leaders. I probably learned more in my three years in the house that I used in life than I learned in my classes. You learn about leadership, organization, and building relationships.”

Now as an alumnus, Scott looks back fondly on his time with Beta Mu. “I gained so many friends through Beta Theta Pi. Last year, my pledge class celebrated 50 years of membership and while we haven’t stayed extremely close over the years, it was almost as if no time had passed. We picked up right where we left off 50 years ago, which is amazing to me. But when you form strong bonds like this, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.

“When I was an undergraduate, the Chapter was in or near the top 10 in grades at Purdue. We were always first or second in intramurals, and had a strong sense of brotherhood; I thought that was a wonderful balance to maintain. I was on the board of the Beta Mu Chapter House Association for 30-some years, during which time I witnessed a cycle—sometimes we were good, sometimes bad—and when we were bad a few times we were really bad. I wanted to see the Chapter maintain its status as an excellent Chapter of Beta Theta Pi, and for several of those years it did not. When we celebrated Beta Mu’s 100th anniversary, the Chapter was once again in the top 10 in grades and placed high in intramurals, so it was nice to see us return to the high level of greatness we should expect of our Chapter. Unfortunately, the Chapter did not maintain that level of accomplishment and it lost its charter. Now Beta Mu has been recolonized and been reinstalled as a Chapter in good standing. The current crop of young men are doing a commendable job of living up to the standards of our Fraternity. They hold each other accountable and that seems to be the key.”

Scott has high praise for Beta, and while it’s been both rewarding and frustrating at times, he doesn’t regret anything about the time he’s spent working with the Chapter, or for that matter, the General Fraternity. The sense of doing good is rewarding, and Scott takes that to heart. “I was blessed to be the emcee of Beta Mu’s 75th and 100th anniversary celebrations, and I said at the 100th that Beta Theta Pi’s adoption of the Men of Principle initiative is the most important fraternity initiative in existence. Its purpose is to develop young men of principle to live a principled life. Since its rechartering, Beta Mu appears to be doing just that.”

Scott and his wife, Mary Jane, live in New Castle, Indiana. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. Now that Scott has retired from practicing law, he stays active by serving on the boards of several community organizations as well as golfing, keeping up with his photography, and, of course, watching Purdue sports. You can contact Scott at rshmjh46@gmail.com.
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