This Week in DKE History September 13th - September 19th

September 13, 1996

The American television sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, debuts on CBS.  Thirty episodes of the show were written by Steve Skrovan (Phi-Yale University).  Brother Skrovan began his career as a stand-up comic after graduating from Yale in 1979.  In 1989, Brother Skrovan became the original host of Totally Hidden Video which aired on the FOX network (1989-1992).  Brother Skrovan produced the 2005 TV special “Earth to America” which covered environmental issues and, in 2006, wrote, produced and directed An Unreasonable Man, a documentary about Ralph Nader.  Brother Skrovan worked as a Producer on the 2006-2010 series Til Death, which starred former Everybody Loves Raymond cast member Brad Garrett.  Currently Brother Skrovan is the Co-Executive Producer on Hot in Cleveland, starring Betty White.

September 14, 1901

Upon the assassination of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University) took office at the youngest age of any United States President in history.

September 14, 1953

The United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp picturing the Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, New York home of Theodore Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University).  The home is now owned and operated by the United States National Park Service. The stamp was issued at Oyster Bay, New York.

September 15, 1845

Zeta Chapter is founded at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton College) as the third fraternity there and as the third Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Originally, the Chapter designation was to have been Psi. The Chapter  was organized by Thomas Y. Simmons, (Phi-Yale College ’47), who went to Princeton for the purpose of establishing a chapter.  In a September 3, 1845 letter, Brother Simmons stated:  “I was successful beyond my fondest anticipations; not that I deemed it impossible, but I thought the attainment of such an object would have presented many impediments and obstacles.  This Branch has been established solely in the senior class of whom I had the pleasure of initiating ten into the brotherhood and mysteries of DKE.  Their Branch has been entitled the Psi Branch.”  The Chapter was inactive between 1846 and 1852 because of extensive faculty objections, was revived on March 17, 1852, and then inactive again after 1857. At the October 1869 Convention held at Bowdoin, the following resolution was passed:  “It is also advised that the charter of Zeta Chapter be withdrawn”. The chapter remained dormant until a colony was formed in 1987.  The Zeta Chapter was revived when the members of the colony were initiated at the University of Pennsylvania Chapter house on Friday, November 6, 1987.

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September 15, 1873

The Alumni Association of New York City was formed.  The 1879 Catalogue of the Fraternity listed the members of the Board of Directors as including included Virginius Dabney (Eta-University of Virginia) and Whitelaw Reid (Kappa-Miami University).

September 15, 1914

The Sigma (Amherst) College Chapter opened their new fraternity house at 82 Lessey Street in Amherst.  The building replaced the two earlier connected buildings on the site. The house features what is referred to as the “Newton’s Fireplace”.  At the time the house was being constructed, George A. Plimpton (Sigma-Amherst College), who was Chairman of the Amherst Board of Trustees, purchased the bricks and wood from the St. Martin Street, London, England home of Sir Isaac Newton that was being demolished.  At the 1915 dedication of the Deke house, Brother Plimpton stated that the materials were made into a fireplace in order that Deke brothers “may catch Newton’s spirit”. Initially, the room was a place for smoking and dancing.  In 1936, the room was remodeled into the first college-supervised library in an Amherst College fraternity.  The room was shelved with 2,000 books and some Newton memorabilia. The house became an Amherst College dormitory named Plimpton House in 1984.  The dormitory was named to honor Calvin Plimpton (Sigma-Amherst College), the President of Amherst College (1960-1971).  

September 15, 1941

The USS President Hayes (APA-20) was launched as a Jackson-Class attack transport.  It was named for Rutherford B. Hayes (Delta Chi-Cornell University) (Honorary), the 19th President of the United States.  The vessel saw service with the U.S. Navy during World War II and, in February and March of 1942, the vessel evacuated civilians and service dependents from Pearl Harbor.  During the War, the vessel was involved in amphibious assault exercises at Guadalcanal, Rendova, Bougainville Island, Guam, and Okinawa.  The vessel was decommissioned on June 30, 1949 and was sold for scrap in February of 1973.

September 15, 1970

Thomas O. Paine (Upsilon-Brown University) resigned as Administrator of NASA.  Brother Paine was appointed Deputy Administrator of NASA on January 31, 1968 and confirmed as Administrator by the Senate on March 20, 1969.  During his administration at NASA, the first seven Apollo manned missions were flown in which 20 astronauts orbited Earth, 14 astronauts travelled to the Moon, and 12 astronauts walked on the surface of the Moon.  After his resignation from NASA, Brother Paine returned to General Electric Co. as Vice President and Group Executive, Power Generation Group.  He later became Senior Vice President for Science and Technology.  In 1976, Brother Paine became the President and Chief Operating Officer of Northrop Corporation.  Brother Paine served as a Trustee of Occidental College and Brown University and was a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  The Planetary Society honored his commitment to the exploration of Mars by establishing The Thomas O. Paine Award for the Advancement of Human Exploration of Mars.  President Reagan appointed Brother Paine to be the Chair investigating the space shuttle Challenger disaster.  Brother Paine received Honorary doctorate of science degrees from Brown University, Clarkson College of Technology, Nebraska Wesleyan University, the University of New Brunswick, Oklahoma City University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Brother Paine died at age 71 on May 4, 1992.

September 15, 2003

Chris Cummiskey (Theta Upsilon-Arizona State) is appointed Acting Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security.  In that capacity, Brother Cummiskey oversees the Management Directorate’s Programs, Processes, and People through six lines of business chiefs and also serves as the Chief Acquisition Officer overseeing $19 billion in acquisition programs ranging from cyber security to aviation security.  The Management Directorate is responsible for department-wide management, standard-setting, and operations, with a focus on integrating and unifying the third largest department in the Federal Government.  Prior to joining the department, Brother Cummiskey was the Chief Information Officer for the State of Arizona.  Brother Cummiskey was elected to the Arizona State Legislature at the age of 26 and served in the House and the Senate of Arizona between 1991 and 2002.  As a Senator, Brother Cummiskey was a recognized leader in the promotion of E‑Government, emerging technologies and the New Economy.  Brother Cummiskey is a Charter Member of the Theta  Upsilon Chapter.

September 16, 1854

On this day, the first fraternity building in North American was built when the Lambda Chapter built a Log Cabin Lodge in the woods about a mile distant from any other dwelling in the area around Kenyon College.  Fraternities were banned on campus at the time of the formation of the Chapter in 1852 so the Chapter met in secret for 1‑1/2 years after it was founded.  Meetings were held at Old Kenyon, a deserted cabin by the Kokosing River, or at the house of a Mt. Vernon farmer who vacated his premises for the brothers.  In 1854, the graduating members of the Chapter wore their pins at commencement and confronted the administration with a petition for recognition.  Kenyon College removed the ban and provided the land and timber for the construction of the Lodge.  In 1873, the Brothers of the Chapter were faced with a difficult decision.  While historically significant, having the oldest fraternity lodge came at a cost as it was too easy to break into the Lodge.  Swearing that not another non-brother would ever enter the sacred Lodge, the brothers at the time made the bold decision to burn down the first Lodge in favor of a newer building with more “contemporary” features.  It is this second, rebuilt Lodge that stands today. 

September 16, 1987

Roscoe S. Suddarth (Phi-Yale University) presented his credentials as United States Ambassador to Jordan.  Brother Suddarth served in that post until July 27, 1990.  Between 1969 and 1971, Brother Suddarth had been assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya.  Between 1991 and 1994, Brother Suddarth was the Deputy Inspector General of the Department of State.  After retiring from public service, Brother Suddarth became President of the Middle East Institute and also served as President of the American-Iranian Council.  He served on the Board of advisors for the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  

September 17, 1965

Hays Clark (Delta Chi-Cornell University) was appointed the President of Avon Products International Inc.  Brother Clark also served in the National Board of Governors of Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Chaired the Board of Trustees of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and served on the Boards of Cornell University and the New York Cornell Medical Centre.

September 17, 2001

Roger K. Deromedi (Gamma-Vanderbilt University) is appointed as the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Kraft Foods Inc. and as a Member of the Board of Directors. Previously Brother Deromedi had been President and CEO, Kraft Foods International (1999), President of the Asia Pacific Region (1998‑99), President of Western Europe for Kraft Foods International (1998‑99), Executive Vice President of Kraft Foods North America and General Manager of Kraft Cheese Division (1993‑1995). On December 16, 2003, the Board of Directors of Kraft Foods Inc. announced the appointment of Brother Deromedi as the Chief Executive Officer. 

September 18, 1854

Alpha Alpha Chapter is installed at Middlebury College (although some records indicate that it was the Charter which was granted by Mother Phi on that date with the installation later. Originally, the chapter designation was to be Alpha, but the Chapter was renamed Alpha (Prime) upon the revival of the Harvard Chapter and then Alpha Alpha at the 1887 Convention.  In the Fall of 1854, Horace Holmes Thomas (Xi-Colby College) entered Middlebury as a Sophomore.  At the time, there was one secret society on campus, a chapter of Chi Psi which had been formed 11 years earlier.  There was considerable opposition from the Faculty about a second secret society.  In the 1910 Catalogue, it is said that Brother Thomas, armed with the knowledge that the President of the College at the time favored the establishment of a second fraternity “proceeded to select five men who seemed to him to represent the most scholarly and intellectual element in College”.  An application for a Charter was made at the 1854 Convention which was meeting at Dartmouth College and the Charter was granted. The first meeting place for the Chapter was a building on the bank of the Otter River which flows through the Village of Middlebury.  Within the first few months of the existence of the Chapter, a further twelve new members were initiated, bringing the membership up to 18.

September 18, 1937

Walter R. Brooks (Beta Phi-University of Rochester) writes a short story entitled “The Talking Horse” which is published in Liberty Magazine.  The principal is a fictional talking horse and the horse “Ed” was the basis for the 1960s television comedy series “Mr. Ed”.  He also published 26 books about “Freddy the Pig and his friends, Boucher and McComas”.  In 2009, Overlook Press published a biography of the life and work of Brother Brooks:  “Talking Animals and Others:  The life and work of Walter R. Brooks, creator of Freddy the Pig”.

September 18, 1947

W. Stuart Symington (Phi-Yale University) was appointed by President Truman as the first United States Secretary of the Air Force.  Brother Symington served in that capacity until April 25, 1950. He later served as a Senator from Missouri (January 3, 1953-December 27, 1976).  Brother Symington placed third behind John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson at the 1960 Democratic Presidential Convention.  At the time, there was speculation that Brother Symington would be the Vice Presidential candidate but Lyndon Johnson was chosen instead.

September 18, 1970

The ground-breaking ceremonies for the new Ellis D. Slater Library at Eisenhower College, Seneca Falls, New York, took place.  The library was named to honor Ellis D. Slater (Omicron-University of Michigan), a long-time friend of President Eisenhower and the former President of Frankfort Distillers Corp.  The library was named for Brother Slater in recognition of his major financial support of the College.  Eisenhower College was founded on September 21, 1965 as a liberal arts college.  In March 1979, the College was acquired by Rochester Institute of Technology when the College was experiencing financial difficulties.  The College was closed in 1983 and the property sold to the New York Chiropractic College.

September 18, 1975

Walter Curley (Phi-Yale University) is appointed by President Gerald Ford (Omicron-University of Michigan) as Ambassador to Ireland.  Brother Curley served in that capacity until 1977.  Brother Curley served as the Commissioner for Public Events and Chief of Protocol for New York City from 1973 to 1974, during the administrations of Mayors John Lindsay and Abraham Beame.  In 1960 with the help of nine partners, Brother Curley launched what according to him was the first venture capital firm, J.H. Whitney.  In 1989, Brother Curley was appointed the Ambassador to France by his friend from Yale, President George H.W. Bush (Phi-Yale University).  Brother Curley served in that capacity until 1993.

September 18, 2012

The PBS movie “Death and the Civil War” debuted with the reading of a letter from James Robert Montgomery, a private in the Confederate Signal Corps in Virginia.  The letter from James Robert Montgomery (Chi-University of Mississippi) was written shortly before Brother Montgomery died of wounds received at Talleys Mill on May 10, 1864.  The PBS feature started as follows:

Narrator: On the evening of May 10th, 1864 -- as the Civil War ground on into its fourth straight year -- 26-year-old James Robert Montgomery, a private in the Confederate Signal Corps in Virginia, wrote a letter to his father back home in Camden, Mississippi, dripping blood on the paper as he wrote, from the horrific arm wound he had sustained a few hours earlier.

Civil War soldier (Actor, audio): Dear Father. This is my last letter to you. I have been struck by a piece of shell and my right shoulder is horribly mangled and I know death is inevitable. I am very weak but I write to you because I know you would be delighted to read a word from your dying son. I know death is near, that I will die far from home and friends of my early youth but I have friends here too who are kind to me. My friend Fairfax will write you at my request and give you the particulars of my death. My grave will be marked so that you may visit it if you desire to do so. It is optionary with you whether you let my remains rest here or in Mississippi. I would like to rest in the graveyard with my dear mother and brothers but it's a matter of minor importance. Give my love to all my friends. My strength fails me. My horse and my equipments will be left for you. Again, a long farewell to you. May we meet in heaven. Your dying son, J. R. Montgomery

Narrator: James Montgomery's friend, Fairfax, did write soon thereafter -- forwarding some of his effects -- and assuring his father that he had been conscious to the end, and that he had died at peace with himself and his maker. But it was little consolation. Though the grave had been marked, the family was never able to find it, and was thus never able to realize their fond hope of bringing their dead son home.

September 19, 1947

Kenneth C. Royall (Beta-University of North Carolina) is appointed by President Truman as the first Secretary of the Army. Brother Royall also served as the 56th United States Secretary of War between July 19, 1947 and September 18, 1947.  Brother Royall served in the United States Army (1917-1921; 1942-1945), and was eventually promoted to the Rank of Brigadier General.  As Secretary of the Army, Brother Royall was succeeded by Brother Gordon Gray (Beta- University of North Carolina) who became the second United States Secretary of the Army in April 1949.

September 19, 1960

James J. Wadsworth (Phi-Yale University) is appointed as United States Ambassador to the United Nations by President Eisenhower.  Brother Wadsworth served in that capacity until late 1961.  Brother Wadsworth had been a member of the New York State Assembly from 1932 until 1941.  Brother Wadsworth died at the age of 78 on March 13, 1984.