May 3, 2015
As you know, I promised to send you an update every month or two. Well, I am writing today with a heavy heart. My oldest friend, and former roommate, George “Earth” Wurm ‘71, passed away on Thursday from a massive heart attack. He previously had a heart attack over 20 years ago, and those of you who knew Earth know he briefly stopped smoking and lived a more wholesome life. But George is George and that didn’t last too long. He was one of those guys you couldn’t help wanting to be with. A couple of minutes with him and you would be laughing about something or other and creating stories you’d be retelling for years to come.
Earth lived in Seal Beach, CA and his 3 younger brothers and his younger sister will be there to celebrate his life with a ceremony on Tuesday. If you are able to attend, let me know and I will forward you the details. For those of us on the east coast, his brother, Jim, told me there will be another ceremony on July 20th in Quincy, MA. We plan to hold the White Rose Ceremony in Quincy at that time. I will let you know the details when they are finalized.
Most of us in the Class of ‘71 are now 65 or turning 66. George was the second youngest in our class and he was only 64. We will miss him. All honor to his name! [picture is Wurm (left) and Pfaff, Great Western Trip III – May 2015, drinks after golf)
On to chapter news: I met with Geoff Seber, Manager of Alumni Programs at RPi at the Alumni House in Troy a week ago Friday. We will probably be contracting with RPI to maintain the database of our brothers’ contact information and other important information. We will be able to log onto RPI’s website and proceed to our own password protected database where we will be able to search our brotherhood by name, class or other feature. We will be able to use this database for sending out information, like this email, newsletters, etc. We will also be able to utilize event management such as registration for alumni events, etc.
Chapter Advisor, Bob Eckart, and I met with Deans Todd Schill and Cary Dresher while I was in Troy. At that meeting, we discussed Dean Schill’s proposal to the administration to hire an associate dean for the Greek community. We subsequently learned this was approved and that they will be able to recruit someone starting in June. Good news for us. Also, apparently, Todd Schill’s prodding of the IT people at least resulted in someone coming out to 58 Pinewoods to survey our location. Brother Bob Bedard will be following up with RPI’s Graham Doig. Our goal is for Sigma Chi to be connected to RPI’s IT System via a fiberoptic cable.
The Deans are also helping us establish a date in September and a venue for Pinewoods Educational Foundation and Sigma Chi’s presentation of a talk by Courtney Banghart about Leadership Development. Courtney is the womens’ basketball coach at Princeton. Their team was the only undefeated mens’ or womens’ Division I team, besides Kentucky, this past season and won their first game in the NCAA tournament. Courtney holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership Development from Dartmouth and was recently named to Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s Top Fifty Leaders. And by the way, her father is Jim Banghart ‘69, who was our Consul my sophomore year.
Last Saturday, I attended the Alumni Inter Greek Council meeting in the morning and the annual Greek awards ceremony in the afternoon. The meeting in the morning was better attended than I was anticipating with about 15-20 alumni representing their chapters. Even so, there were at least a dozen fraternities and sororities not represented. Bob Eckart ‘73 was reelected as a board member, and I can happily report that Bob is among the most effective people in the organization. Chuck Carletta, father of Chuck Carletta ‘14, and Secretary and General Council of the Institute, was a featured speaker. He announced that DKE initiated 12 brothers and would be officially recognized as back on campus in the Fall semester. He told us that the Fall freshman class admissions goal was 1382, including 160 international students and 345 transfer students. There also will be, for the first time ever, 60 freshman starting in the second semester allowing them to defer their start time. Chuck also talked about RPI’s new Sexual Abuse policy and the fact that the highest risks involved underage drinking, athletic team members and fraternities.
The best thing we can do is to continue as active alumni and help to build a healthy cultural history with our undergraduates. The fact is every fraternity on campus is one incident away from oblivion because RPI has a no tolerance attitude to major incidents. Each weekend is a major risk situation when alcohol is involved.
Saturday afternoon’s annual Greek awards event brought two major awards to Delta Psi. John Spangenberger, aka Spanky, was awarded this year’s Servant Leader Award for his huge commitment to service hours, primarily with Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, Our Consul, Chris Higley ‘16, was named Greek Man of the Year. All in all a good afternoon for Delta Psi.
Later that afternoon we were hanging out on the front porch waiting for our cook to finish smoking Brisket and Ribs. Besides me, present were C-Ray Alshouse ‘70, Bob Eckart ‘73 and Kurt VanWagenen ‘85. Larry Heiniger ‘75 was out by the front sidewalk digging up the ground to plant new privet hedges, when an elderly womeny pulled up and spoke to him. Larry directed her to park and she got out of her car and proceeded to walk up to us in the front porch. She was wearing some kind of a name tag as she announced “I’m Ruth Harvie, and I grew up in your house until 1942 when my father sold it to Phi Epsilon Phi,”
It turns out that Ruth was attending her 75th reunion at Emma Williard. Her father was Dr. Peter Harvie, Chief of Surgery at Samaritan Hospital. Dr, Harvie and his family moved into the house in 1929. We had a great visit with Ruth as she told us all about what the house looked like when she was a little girl, over 70 years ago, Look for the rest of my story about Ruth in our next newsletter published this summer.
Well, I think that’s a long enough report for now. I plan to be back in Troy on May 16th in order to perform our end of semester inspection of both the common rooms and all the bedrooms. The house will be closed for the summer as of June 1st. Please join us for Alumni Work Party August 21st – 23rd. And keep in mind our 65th anniversary celebration and RPI Homecoming on October 2nd. This will also be the final appearance of Oedipus and the Mothers, our infamous band of the Class of 1966. The will be their 50th reunion.
John Leroy Pfaff ’71
Phi Epsilon Phi House Corporation President