Happy New Year from 58 Pinewoods

2015_12_house-lightsIt is quiet now, since December 23 when the last brother left.  School resumes Monday January 25, 2016 and the brothers return home that weekend, so I’ll have a whole month to relax.  The 36 members living here is both exciting and a stress for me.  So a month off, with their families is always renewing.  We don’t yet know how many are coming back as the coop opportunities are not finalized yet.

The fall semester was exciting, beginning with the Tenth work party in August.  Twenty alumni helped finish minor projects and left me two new hand-built Adirondack deck chairs under the pine trees in my front yard. Hanbury and Heininger Relax on the new chairs

In September, the Pinewoods Educational Foundation kicked off the semester programming with Princeton women’s basketball coach, Courtney Banghart, daughter of Jim Munger Banghart ’69 presenting a leadership lecture, for the entire campus at the RPI EMPAC Center.

October Homecoming found Oedipus and the Mothers headlining the band party for Homecoming Weekend 2015.  The anniversary celebration of the Sigma Chi 65th founding from 1950 hosted about 200 alumni brothers, active brothers, plus spouses and family members including founding brother Ed Ziemer, ’51.  The Oedipus Band performance ended their series of four concerts since the Millennium tour started in 2000 with the expected unveiling of the identity of Oedipus, but none of the members could remember which one was Oedipus (or maybe they were still unwilling to name him.)  Coordinator Bob “Ruff” Hutnick, ‘71 unveiled my Alumni Room Order of Constantine members’ pictures on my western wall.  On Thursday night, Bob “Justa” Eckart ’73, the current Chapter Advisor was recognized by the Rensselaer Alumni Association with an Alumni Key Award.  At the cocktail party, the brothers recognized Ed Kellogg ’60 as one of our Significant Sigs.  Bill Wurst ’71 and Jim Manocchi ’75 were given Sigma Chj Seven Lights awards by the international fraternity recognizing their 10 years of alumni service. Brothers who have passed onto to the Chapter Eternal, including Gary “Slug” Wood ’71, who passed on earlier this year, were recognized in a brief White Rose Ceremony.  A river birch was planted in my side yard, near my library window, to remember Slug.

Also during October, I hosted the parents’ weekend and the annual Haunted House with hundreds of my neighbor kids walking through me with my scariest decorations on display.  In November, the brothers raked my trees’ fallen leaves and the leaves of my fellow houses on Pinewoods and nearby.  The brothers then travelled to Clifton Park and raked leaves for past Chapter Advisor Chris Gribbon ’00.  As a surprise, Peter Wurst ’04, lead a group of brothers to present a wheel-chair enabled van to the Gribbon family from Joann Samalionis Wood and with the help of donations of 150 brothers and friends.

Fall semester rush resulted in 16 new recruits becoming brothers-in-training.  Delta Psi participated as one of 42 chapters using the new Preparation for Brotherhood (P4B) program.  The P4B will be the standard for all chapters fall 2016, ensuring a standard quality experience for all new initiates.  All 16 recruits were initiated in November.

Earlier in the Spring, my last female resident returned for a surprise visit.  I had not seen Ruthe Harvie since she was a little girl and her father sold me to the Phi Epsilon Phi fraternity in 1942.  She remembered my original grandfather clock that stood in the entry way for at least 50 years, donated by her father, but now replaced.  She gave a tour to the bothers assembled through me, naming each of my rooms and occupants of my 1902 original structure and explained how they looked before the fraternity took over, remodeled me and the before my massive 2013 renovation.  It was great to see her 73 years later.

In April, the brothers brought in the RPI Five-Star Award, for outstanding fraternities.  Consul Chris Higley ’16 was honored in April as Greek Man of the year at RPI, Bob “Justa” Eckart ’73 honored as top chapter advisor and John Spankenberger ’15 won the Greek Servant Leader award. In August the chapter brought home a fifth-consecutive Sigma Chi Peterson Chapter Excellence Award. In December, 4 brothers were tapped for the Order of Omega, Greek honor society.

As I said, it’s quiet now, despite the lack of snow this season, but in a few weeks the bustle and hustle will start again and I’ll happily welcome back the brothers and the 2016 spring semester.  But until then, a couple more weeks of peace and rest.…

Here’s wishing all my brothers, friends, neighbors and family members a happy and prosperous 2016. 58Pinewoods@gmail.com

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