Jim Straw ’68 selected as 2018 Significant Sig

strawDelta Psi Brother James (Jim) B. Straw, ’68, has been selected for the 2018 Class of Significant Sigs. The Significant Sig Award recognizes alumni who have accomplished outstanding success in their professional or civic activities.  Jim joins 7 other RPI Brothers who were honored previously.  His picture will be added to the Alumni Room at the Pomeroy Chapter House at 58 Pinewoods.

Brother Straw graduated from RPI in 1968 with a Bachelor of Building Sciences and received a Bachelor of Architecture in 1969. Jim received his Master of Science in Urban Design from Columbia University in 1971.  A retired architect, Jim resides in the Philadelphia area.

Jim was the Managing Principal of KSK Architects Planners Historians from 2009 to 2014. From 1997 to 2009 he led the firm’s Preservation Practice. Through several major, and award-winning projects, he developed an expertise in both preservation architecture and the planning and design of cultural facilities. He was Principal-in-Charge of the design of the $110M clay Center for the Arts and Sciences (2003) in Charleston, West Virginia, and the National Award-winning restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic Ridgway Library Building, in Philadelphia, as the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (1997). Jim was also Principal-in-Charge of the National Award-winning restoration and reuse of Memorial Hall, a National Historic Landmark, for the Please Touch Museum (2010) in the Centennial District of Philadelphia.

Brother Straw also took his firm’s preservation and cultural facilities design practice to China in the late 1990s, when he was instrumental, with other firm principals, in setting up a planning and design office in Tianjin, China. His firm assisted in establishing some of China’s first historic preservation ordinances, and undertook planning a design of cultural and entertainment facilities around the country.

He received numerous awards in the architectural field. To name a few, the long list includes the National Honor Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2012, for the restoration and adaptive re-use of Memorial Hall, the National Honor Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1998, for the restoration and adaptive re-use of the Ridgway Library Building; a Grand Jury Award, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia for the Please Touch Museum;  the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award, Preservation Pennsylvania: Johnson House Underground Railroad Museum restoration, 2008; and The Philadelphia Art Alliance Wister Award, 2009, for “dedication and devotion to Arts and Culture in the City of Philadelphia.”

In addition to his professional achievements, Jim has served the music, non-profit and cultural community in many leadership positions, only some of which are mentioned here. He was a Commissioner for the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation for 8 years; Chairman of the Board of Partners for Sacred Places; Executive Committee Board Member of the Mann Center for the Performing Arts; Chairman of the Opera Philadelphia Board; Chairman of the Philadelphia Flower Show Executive Committee; President of the Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble; and President of the Union League of Philadelphia.

His involvement in music started long ago and included a stint as bass guitarist in Oedipus and the Mothers, the Delta Psi house band with which he has returned for many Homecoming performances at Delta Psi. Jim is looking forward to a reunion performance for its next gig. Clearly, Jim still has rhythm.  – Larry Mentz ‘68

George Herbert Reynolds ’66 entered Chapter Eternal

Delta Psi Sigma Chi Brother George Herbert (GHerb) Reynolds ’66 entered the Chapter Eternal on February 27, 2018.

Pictures below are from the 2010 Homecoming Reunion – In front of the Pomeroy chapter house at 58 Pinewoods, left to right are: Bruce Allen ’65, Dick Ross ’66, George Reynolds ’66, Foss Hooper ’66, Eric Klutz ’66 & Paul Davis ’66, and at dinner are  George Reynolds ’66, Faith Reynolds and Sharon Davis.

Comments from chapter Brothers:

George’s extraordinary wit has left us much to smile about from those years with him.  At the moment, I am remembering him perched on the roof of the porch at the old house, costumed as an eagle and greeting Halloween visitors with squawks of “E plurbus unum”.  There are many other memories, too, but I need to run them by the censors first!
All honor to his name.  In Hoc, Paul Davis ’66
Just the mention of his name makes me smile. Countless times in my life I’ve had moments that flash back to something he did or said. George is one of those rare people who you can never forget once you have met him. 
All honor to his name. 
In hoc, Dennis George ’66
I believe that all of us can agree that GHerb was a memorable character.  His wit–usually accompanied by a wry grin and a subdued snicker–was not only funny but made you feel good.  His spontaneous expressions about people and life were priceless, and yes, some needed to be run by the sensors.  I’m glad Jean and I got to see Faith and GHerb–as well as their granddaughter [Courtney Reynolds ’13?] who was attending the ‘Tute–at a couple of the alumni reunions.
All honor to his name.  In hoc, Dick Ross ’66

Here is a photo from the 1965 rush brochure with Herb Reynolds (better known as Troll).  Troll is the little guy on the right side of the 49 Chevy (?) that had been sitting in the back of the house for years.  Also identifiable are Foss Hooper on the left front hood, Denny George behind him, then ??, and I think, Bill Pomeroy.  We all decided to dispose of it by driving it down Pinewoods Avenue flat out in second gear until it blew.  A was a passenger, and it DID blow.  We left it and walked back.  Frank (Skull) Kendall was the driver.  Bruce Allen, ‘65

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Troll and car (2)

Whirl – Silicon Valley start-up founders Ken Sobel ’12 and Jay Cady ’14 Steve Sobel ’14 sold Whirl to Visa in 2017

By: Ken Sobel ‘12

Are you supposed to enjoy your first job out of college?

Two weeks into my career, this was the biggest question weighing on me. I didn’t sign my job offer with the expectation of hating my job, but here I was. With the encouragement of Andrew Stevens ’12, I decided on the solution. “I’ll start my own company!”

And so Whirl, Inc. was born. I quickly joined forces with my biological brother, Steve Sobel ’14, and former Pro Consul Jay Cady ’14, both who, unlike me, knew how to design circuits and write code.

With a founding team in place, we got to work. Our product was a point of sale system that accepted fingerprint payments. It would dramatically improve the speed, convenience, and security of everyday retail transactions. After working nights and weekends for six months, we had our first prototype by the spring of 2014.

Still resembling an RPI science project, that prototype helped us raise capital from Y Combinator, a startup venture fund based in Mountain View, California. We quickly relocated to the SF Bay Area, where we spent over two years figuring out how to transform a prototype into a business.

In those two years, we learned how to design hardware, build production-quality products, file a patent, write a pitch deck, form investor relationships, acquire customers, and partner with large banking institutions. Looking back, it was not my RPI coursework, but rather my experience in Sigma Chi that best prepared me most for the intensity of starting a company.

By late 2016, Whirl had processed over $1.2 million on behalf of its customers, and over 1000 people used our product to pay by fingerprint. In 2017, Visa tendered an offer to acquire Whirl’s patent rights – and we accepted.

Steve, Jay, and I continue to work as a team at b8ta, a new type of retailer that allows emerging consumer brands to sell through physical stores over the internet.

2018 Spring Newsletter

Our alumni 2018 Spring newsletter has been delivered.  You find it here!  Since the publishing, December Grad Ryan Gavin has accepted employment at Volkswagen Product Marketing at their HQ in Herndon, Virginia. Send your USPS mailing updates to Dan Zuber dzuber321@gmail.com.

Don Weber ’67 entered Chapter Eternal

Don WeberDonald Jon Weber,  (’67) age 71, passed on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at Barnwell Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Valatie. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 3, 1945 he was the son of the late Jeannette Elizabeth (Chubb) and John Frederick Weber. He grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio and graduated from the Charles T. Brush High School in 1963. Don came to NYS for his undergraduate education and graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He then served proudly as a Lieutenant in the US Navy from June 1969 through 1975, working as navigator on Navy planes. Don came back to the Schenectady/Troy area to work and continue his education, where he earned a master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from RPI in 1978. He worked for General Electric for almost 30 years as an engineer for MAO and GE, retiring in 2004.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his beloved in-laws Jean (Elder) Clark and Robert C. Clark, and brother-in-law Robert C. Clark ll. Survivors include his wife Teri L. (Clark) Weber of 40 years, and his treasured children, Darren J. Weber (Lisa) of Watertown, MA and Katherine J. Weber of Saratoga Springs, NY. He has a much loved sister, Mary Jeanne (Chubb) McRoberts and brother-in-law, Paul McRoberts of Anthem, AZ. Don also has a cherished niece, Tracy (McRoberts) Begalke and family of Anthem, AZ. He was fortunate enough to have his sister-in-laws Karen (Marcotte) Duell of Corinth, NY and Christine (Clodgo Clark) Higginson (Norman) of Corinth, NY as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Relatives and friends may call from 5 to 7pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017 from 5 to 7 pm at the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff, Inc. Funeral Homes, 628 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs (584-5373). Funeral services will be held at 10am Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at the Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, 175 Fifth Ave. at Henning Road, Saratoga Springs. Inurnment with military honors will follow at the Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, 200 Duell Road, Schuylerville. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the American Heart Association, 440 New Karner Road, Albany NY 12205 or the Community Hospice of Saratoga, 179 Lawrence Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. The family wishes to thank the entire staff of Barnwell Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for their love, care, comfort, and support they have given Don over his past 6 year stay with them. We also appreciate the kindness, care, and support of the entire Burke/Bussing & Cunniff, Inc. Funeral Home family at this time. Online remembrances may be made at www.burkefuneralhome.com.
Published in The Saratogian on Aug. 6, 2017
Obituary

Responses: From Rangy Lil: “Don was my big brother as a pledge, and he had a lot to do with my nickname “Rangy”. I think he actually wrote the poem. Another reminder that our stay is a temporary one. In Hoc, Rangy”
And From Ruff: “I have fond memories of him with his beer, smoking, playing Thumper, and almost never uttering a sound for hours on end! Those House parties were worth returning for. I kept on returning to the House with fellow alums for 10 years after graduation (1972-1982), the last time with my wife who was pregnant. In Hoc, Ruff”
From Dick Ross: “Perhaps one of my fonder memories of Don occurred when we were both residing in the Norfolk, Virginia, area in the early 70s. At the time, he was in the US Navy and I was on field service for Lockheed. One day, Don decided it would be a good idea to travel from Norfolk to Troy to attend a Big Weekend at the Sigma Chi house. So off we went on Friday morning. We partied Friday and Saturday nights and returned on Sunday. Ah, those were the days! In Hoc Dick”
From Jim Straw: “A very solid guy and great Brother. Quiet but with a wry sense of humor. A good student when many of us weren’t. The Chapter Eternal will benefit from his presence. J”
From Jim Campbell: “Web” was a great and very even-tempered brother and a mentor to many of us as Freshman/Sophomores trying to find our way at the “Tute” and Sigma Chi. All honor to his name. In Hoc, Cramble
From Gary Simundza ’67: You may remember that he and I were roommates (in the Grotto) for a year back in 1965-66; a really nice guy. Gary

 

Sigma Chi 1950 Petition Discovered

Brother Jim Mitchell ’51, an original member of Sigma Chi at RPI, found a pristine copy of the 1950 brochure from local Phi Epsilon Phi Petition to Sigma Chi requesting membership.  Our petition is 5 by 9 inches, 32 glossy pages including an aerial photo of RPI on the front and back covers, a picture of the membership, profiles of the members, pictures of fraternity life in 1950, and countless supporting letters from school officials, local members and prominent Sigs (including Past Grand Consul L.G. Balfour – Balfour Jewelry).  Thanks to Significant Sig Jim Mitchell ’51, recipient of both the RAA Fellows Award and the Rensselaer Davies Medal, for the safekeeping of this memory.  Brother Mitchell has donated the booklet to the chapter for safekeeping.  A copy can be found at our Chapter Web Site Alumni page
www.sigmachi-rpi.org/newsletter/1950SigmaChiPetition.pdf

Armen Renjilian ’52 entered the Chapter Eternal

Armen Rejilian photoArmen Renjilian ’52 passed away December 22, 2017, of natural causes at the age of 88.33333.  He always wanted credit for the months after his last birthday.

Armen was a member of the first pledge class of Sigma Chi.  He worked in the Albany/Troy area most of his life and was the manager of Material Sciences at Albany International Corporation retiring at 81 having been a consultant to Albany International for many years after his official retirement.  He was an expert in water chemistry related to paper making processes and did some of the original work to covert the industry from wool to nylon industrial fabrics (and other polymers).  He holds 6 patents in this area.  Armen met Lois (his wife) at a party held at 58 Pinewoods Ave.  Their son, Rick Renjilian, is a member of the class of 1981 and lives in Port Washington, NY.

His wake will be on January 11 and funeral services on January 12 in Latham.

Obituary Link

Happy New Year 2018 from the Pomeroy Chapter House at 58 Pinewoods

[I posted this story from an email sent to me by 58pinewoods@gmail.com – Editor]2017-12 Chapter HouseThe chapter brothers finished finals late this year – Friday December 22, 2017.  They won’t return until January 16 for classes, so I have three plus weeks for my rest, restoration and relaxation.  Chapter Advisor and Order of Constantine member, Robert “Justa” Eckart ’73 will stop by frequently to check on my condition, just like Arch Love ’42 did for all those many winters.  It’s been a long time since anyone stayed over for the winter break. But I must guard against the winds blowing against my old front frame.  Unfortunately it’s very cold here and expected to continue for the next 10 days!

This month I said good-bye to three members at the December Graduation: They took the obligatory picture on my front steps, as so many brothers before them.

  • Sam Doskocil ‘17 graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering and will begin working as a Technology Specialist – Patent Attorney Track at a Boston law firm.
  • Scott Corradi ‘17 graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and is considering offers for structural engineering grad schools at Stevens, NJIT and Syracuse versus full time employment.
  • Ryan Gavin ‘17 graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Information Technology & Web Science and Business & Management, and a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization & Entrepreneurship.

During the Fall semester, IFC included Brothers Marvin Cosare ’18 as president and Alex Steff ’19 as VP of Philanthropy.

Kent Rapp ’18 did not return for the Fall semester, selected to spend summer and fall semesters abroad and participate in the 2017 to 2018 Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) fellowship, living in Rostock Germany.  I overheard that Fall Magister Aidan Gorby ’19 will not return for Spring 2018 semester and will study aboard in London.  RPI has requested that many juniors spend a semester away from campus.  These activities provide many opportunities for leadership positions to be shared / swapped during the year.  The mandatory away from campus (ARCH) program, begins summer 2018.

November 2017, I witnessed the preparation and training of 13 new brothers, men who showed a great potential for the future of our chapter. I overheard that these 13 new brothers will participate in Sigma Chi’s new program for post-initiation training called Ritual for Life (R4L) program. R4L is the beginning for ongoing ritual education in their Sigma Chi journey provided by the International Fraternity.  Leaders were trained at the BLTW in August and the program is supported by teaching lesson plans, online video and training materials and to be supplemented by ritual-trained alumni experts.

I witnessed Alex Steff ’19 present a lavalier to Jessica MacPherson.  Outside events included engagements by Oskari Rautiainen ‘16, Joe Pumper’16 and Nick Pitt ’16, and Alex Manocchi ‘16 married Chelsea.

At the October RPI honors convocation, graduate student Chaz Goodwine ’13 received the RPI Founders Award of Excellence.

During Homecoming celebration in October, led by Alan Roberts ’83, class of 83 brothers gathered to remember classmate, Doug Doskocil ‘83, with a White Rose Ceremony.  The groups also recognized many other Delta Psi brothers who entered the Chapter Eternal this year including: Henry O. “Hank” Lumb Jr. ’53, a founding father of Delta Psi of Sigma Chi at RPI in 1950; Albert Welford “Will” Castleman Jr. ’57; Robert Glaess ’65; John Schroder ’69; Mark J. Harris ’70; Bob Brooks ’75; and Jim “Flanigan” Comyns ’77.

In December, I heard that Armen Renjilian ’52 entered the chapter eternal.

More than 30 brothers piled into my alumni living room in September for the Pinewoods Educational Foundation’s (PEF) second annual Interviewing and Resume Skills Training Workshop lead by Dennis Powers ’63 with help from John Baldwin ‘77, Matt Miller ‘77, John Pfaff ‘71 and Dan DeSantis ‘78.  I overheard the current residents comment how the efforts by my alumni are really changing the dynamic of how fraternity is defined.

The fall semester began with excitement as the Delta Psi brothers brought back their 8th consecutive Peterson Award from the Sigma Chi Balfour Leadership Training Workshop.  But this Award was special and included a Gold Level Certificate (one of only six awarded by the International Fraternity) that shines on the mantel of my Library.  This award was the icing on the cake of the May Greek awards for Delta Psi’s second consecutive President’s Cup award for best fraternity and only fraternity out of 29 to earn a five star designation. Servant Leader of the Year Award went to Sigma Chi’s Sean Waclawik ‘18, and the Greek Man of the Year went to Marvin Cosare ‘18. Greeks also presented RPI’s chapter advisor of the year award to Bob “Justa” Eckart ’73 and then named the award for him permanently.

bull ridingFall rush events held on my grounds included bull riding as well as lots of game playing and picnicking.  I’m grateful that the bull was the kind that didn’t leave deposits all over my grass.

Work Party 2017 was similar but different.  The Alumni led by Bob Bedard ’75 and Thom Kouletsis ’76 as usually but since the rebuilt of my back half, the work party tasks have been simply.  I’m just not falling apart like I was did.

Work Party also honored remodeler supreme, Alan “HJ” Hanbury ’74, who was also recognized by the Sigma Chi Fraternity with the 7 Lights Award to service dedication.  HJ was joined by chapter mates at the 70th Grand Chapter in Providence, RI in June.

Scott and Barbara Dukette ’80 started a year abroad, living in twelve different countries.

Back in May, 14 brothers graduated: Ryan R-Dubz Williams, Nikolay Du Ciel, Brian Casel, James Crist, Conrad Mossl, JJ Hu, Alex Mikelis, Ryan Gavin, Luke Perkins, Matthew Tabak, Matt Rettig, John Romano, Alex Quigley, and Ravi PanseThey gathered on my porch steps for this classic pose.

During the spring 13 new brothers were added to my undergraduate members: 11 one day and 2 more athletes a couple of weeks later at the University of Rochester. My rooms are filled (but I love being full of terrific members!!

Lots of graduates, lots of awards, many new members and lots of enthusiasm – I can’t wait until my January nap is over and 2018 continues the EXcellence at the Pomeroy Chapter House at 58 Pinewoods Avenue. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

If any of you find yourselves in Troy, please stop by and visit the undergraduate brothers who watch over me (and me over them).

 

2017 December Grads

2017 December gradsPictured Left to right – Sam Doskocil, Scott Corradi & Ryan Gavin

Sam Doskocil graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering and will begin working as a Technology Specialist – Patent Attorney Track at Wolf, Greenfield & Sachs P.C. in Boston. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-doskocil-96b12512a/

Scott Corradi graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and considering offers for structural engineering grad schools at Stevens, NJIT and Syracuse versus full time employment. https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-corradi-386028a8/

Ryan Gavin graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Information Technology & Web Science and Business & Management, and a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization & Entrepreneurship.  He is looking for opportunities Product Planning, Product Management, Strategy/Business Development, or Marketing in either automotive or consumer technology as he returns to north/central New Jersey. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryantgavin/

Congratulations and best wishes Brothers!