Delta Chi….. fraternities aren’t all bad ideas.

outer-banks

Still kicking after all these years

It’s been a too long time since those lazy hazy days of college, emphasis on hazy.  You know, when the first 60 degree day meant everyone cut classes and met at South Park.  For me some 45 years have passed.  I guess I need to bring my potential readers up to date.  I pledged Delta Chi in the fall of 1970 and graduated from the Big O in December of 1973.  My degree was in teaching and I accepted a position in Loyal, Wisconsin.  If you know where that is, my question would be why?  I met Jean Warnke (Alpha Phi) in my Senior year and we were married in April of 1974.  Too young, too soon?  Our marriage ended in 1976.  Our divorce proceedings centered on the division of our only two assets, a 1974 Pinto station wagon and the wedding pictures.  She got the Pinto and I got the pictures.  Any advice on what you do with those?  I moved to Madison, Wisconsin where I took a teaching position in the suburb of Oregon.  In that teaching position, I met and later married Deb Shepherd in 1980.  In the ensuing years we raised two beautiful daughters, Bailey (1984) and Kathryn (1991).  Our teaching careers, Deb taught at Lomira and DeForest, lasted until 2011 for Deb, shout out to Scott Walker, and 1998 for me.  I had developed a tax planning business and sold that to a Madison firm in 1998, retired from teaching and took a position with that purchasing company.  I obtained my investment licenses and worked with my clients as their financial advisor as well as acting as the financial manager for the firm.  In August of 2017, hearing Garrison Keillor retire after declaring “44 years is long enough to work at anything”, I left my planning career and am now enjoying retirement, traveling with Deb, volunteering for a national org and helping to spoil my two grandchildren, Jackson (2014) and Adela (2017).  For entertainment, I write entries in a blog called “Kenisms”, my daughter’s idea, and can be followed at www.kenismsblog.com.   That is, if you feel the urge to do that sort of thing.  My topics range from humorous recollections to travel stories and epiphanies.  Yes, I said epiphanies, as in life’s little ironies and aha moments.

There needs to be a point to this dialog so here it is.  This writing was inspired by the question “what has Delta Chi meant to your life journey or something like that.”  In pledge class, we were taught that each of the three legs of the Delta stood for a principal.  I remember that one was “service” and while thanks to my college night life, I have a vague recollection of the other two.  I will go with “brotherhood”, i.e. socializing, and apparently “fortitude” as it took that to survive the Delta Chi socializing.  I remember shoveling sand, tons of it, into the basement of the Delta Chi house on Scott Street as a pledge.  This was done as preparation for one of the many theme parties that were thrown in its sacred confines.  If you are thinking of some resemblance to “Animal House”, I have always been convinced that one of the writers had to be a brother.  That or John Belushi must have crashed one of our parties.  Did I mention that we actually had a house monkey when I resided there, or is that still a well-kept secret?  If so, Oops.

I spent a year and a half in the house on Scott Street, sharing a room with a view on the third floor with my roommate, Nick Yarmac.  I remember fondly a weekend road trip to visit his home in, wait for it, Connecticut.  That, like so many other decisions, was made late on a Thursday night drinking $1 buckets at “Toschs” and then leaving that Friday afternoon for Connecticut.  I mention this, because it speaks to the brotherhood and fortitude principal.  When an opportunity cropped up and you had a chance to share the adventure, you seized it.  You didn’t question the sanity of it, you might have given some thought to the risk but when a brother called and an adventure was offered, you jumped on the idea.  That has had a great deal to do with my success in both of my careers, first in public education and then in financial planning.  That willingness to take a risk, that ability to network with people and that desire to experience life as an adventure are all rooted in my Delta Chi experience.  I have passed that attitude on to my daughters and am working on nurturing it in my grandchildren.  I taught it to my seventh grade math students and my financial clients.  It is the only way to approach life if you are intent on not letting it pass you by and just becoming another cog in the wheel.

But I cannot forget “service”.  That principal guided everything I did for my students and my clients and still drives me as a SCORE volunteer.  Ironically, my favorite job in college was bartending with Tom Fricke at Dino’s Titan Tap in Oshkosh where I “served” up beer to our patrons.  That establishment more or less became the offsite fraternity house.  Hey, service takes on many forms.  That principal resonated with me and I have dedicated my life to it.  It actually served me well.  There is truth in the adage that the more you give the more you get.

Delta Chi in the 70’s was the entity that got me through college.  It was a brother to lean on when you needed one, it was the built in social network that gave you a group of friends to look out for you on a too much night out and it was a resource for academic advice when needed.  Who can forget the “test bank” or is that another well-kept secret?

I will offer a shout out to some brothers I remember fondly but also through a disclaimer in here, that if your name doesn’t appear it doesn’t mean you were any less memorable, but I am told I am limited to “characters” in this article.  To Tom Knoll, my big brother, where are you now.  You taught me to drink scotch out of necessity and it remains to this day as my favored drink.  To Mike Daly, my little brother, did you inherit any of my beliefs?  If so, I want to offer a late apology.  To Dave Koch, Bruce Whitehead, Jon Wolfgram, the Tiles brothers, Ed and Wally, Buddy Bannow and Chris Crager, my drinking buddies and cohorts in fraternity hijinks, you still out there?  To Plank, Roskom and Sonlietner, my attempt to drag my former high school classmates into the depths of depravity, how goes it?  And as I write this, to the multitude of other brothers that keep popping into my brain, thanks for the memories.

In conclusion, if for no other reason than this has to end, we are all older and supposedly wiser.  We have neared the end of or already retired from our careers.  We have likely raised a family and from the Facebook pictures, are now spoiling grandchildren.  Through all those years, still brothers, yes you too Kimbal.  Delta Chi was an underlying reason we made it.  Maybe the networking.  Maybe the dedication to service.  Maybe just the brotherhood in the adventure at its beginnings and friends to the end of the journey of life.  It has been and continues to be fraternal.

Ken Wundrow

Delta Chi Alum class of 1970

Grandkids selfie

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