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August 07, 2016

The 160th Anniversary National Convention - My Thoughts, Pt. #1

I was privileged to attend the 160th Anniversary National Convention of Theta Chi Fraternity, held July 22-26 in Atlanta, GA.

My much younger trophy wife, Lynnette, accompanied me. She is an active AOPi alumna at both the local and national level, having attended her National Leadership conference in June in Nashville, and is currently serving as Alum Advisor to the AOPi Chapter at University of LaVerne. 

She spent all day yesterday (Saturday 8/6/16) attending the retreat of the Leadership Council for the La Verne Chapter. She is also immediate Past President of the CSULB Alumnae Panhellenic Council. So she's totally got game when it comes to this Fraternity/Sorority stuff.

In fact, she has been involved with Theta Chi longer than I have. So not only was she understanding about my attendance, she was an active participant, reconnecting with many old friends, and meeting many new ones. 

How involved? Try this: Our engagement was first announced from the podium by former National President Dave De Vol at the Installation of the Northridge Chapter in June1984. Among the attendees: Mark Geenen, Joe Clack.

I attended my first Convention in 1976; yes, 40 years ago. It was held at the Konover Hotel on Miami Beach. Two carloads of us drove cross-country to attend. In August. No A/C. That's dedication. 

That Convention marked my first encounter with Howard Alter and Dale Slivinske, my future bosses. Allen Thomas, our Chapter President and Convention Delegate, had a bone to pick with Howard and Dale about something or other regarding Convention arrangements. So we charged into their hospitality suite and Allen started haranging them, while I meekly stood aside. Howard gently fielded and parried all of Allen's attacks, while Dale filled my hand with a drink and asked me how the Chapter was doing. 

This was only the first of many object lessons of great value delivered by Howard & Dale, conducted impromptu and in real time, with affection and conviction that ensured complete understanding, free of enmity or rancor. 

It still works this way today. The professionals and volunteers are indulgent, patient, informed, and generous. The undergrads are passionate, pointed, eager to learn, and in a hurry. Such is the nature of all Fraternities, and such is the great joy of watching them work.

Here's the first of many vignettes I want to share with you in the coming days. Lynnette and I weren't in the hotel bar for more than 5 minutes when a Theta Chi came over, introduced himself, and started telling me a story about how he, as an Undergraduate, worked with me, as a Staff member, on a resolution for presentation to the Convention in Philadelphia in '86. I barely remembered him, but once he got me started, I remembered. He's from Epsilon Sigma Chapter at Wagner College, on Staten Island - Rich Santoriello. 

I visited there in 1980 as a Field Rep, and things did not go well. This was before Rich's time, and things had since improved once he joined. He is an active, respected and effective Alumnus volunteer.

I met Dr. Beeper from Caddyshack at this Philadelphia Convention (Dan Resin - Alpha Iota, Indiana) who was a guest speaker. I'll see if I can dig up the picture. 

This was just the first of hundreds of similar encounters, many of which I will share with you over the days to come. Each encounter is like a brain cell, with connections to more or fewer others, depending on how much time has passed, and who else was involved, and what other events have brought you together over the years.

More to come.

Posted by: JBD at 07:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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