DELTA BETA FAST FACTS
The University of Arizona Chapter
The University of Arizona Delta Beta Chapter of Beta Theta Pi has an interesting history which reflects the Spirit of its Brotherhood in a sphere of ever changing social and political events. History is extremely difficult to write and record when it is a product of many voices and memories of events fused into a single meaningful narrative. It is the Delta Betas Alumni Associations hope that the following is a representative summary of our past.—John Libby ‘64
The Arizona initial petition (circa 1930)—The Delta Chi’s
The Delta Chi’s were an early local fraternity who petitioned the General Fraternity for a charter in or about 1930. The General Fraternity at that time had some reservations regarding the academic standing of an institution which was created during the geographical areas territorial days and had only recently achieved statehood. It is significant that this group was eventually “Initiated” under the auspices of the General Fraternity in 1959 when the University of Arizona Charter was granted.
The Arizona Beta beginning (1959—1970) The Formative Years
In 1957, a Beta brother named Louis Linxwiler, Jr. Oklahoma State '53 #527 was transferred by the Valley National Bank of Arizona to its Tucson branch. Lou didn’t know a single Beta in Tucson, but was soon welcomed at one of the monthly luncheons sponsored by the Tucson Beta Alumni group.
A couple of months after Lou’s arrival, the older members of the group decided to make an overture to the General Fraternity office. They welcomed the eager and energetic abilities of the youthful Lou and of Henry B. Anderson ( Ohio Wesleyan '52), a graduate assistant at the university and the son of a well-known Tucson attorney. They accepted the young men's offer to assist in forming a colony at the University. Henry Anderson then prepared and presented to the Trustees of the Fraternity a specific plan for developing a local fraternity called Delta Beta into a potential chapter of Beta Theta Pi.
Lou and Henry then held informal rush events in the Student Union and the first pledges were “rushed” and selected. These enterprising two men rented an apartment building with 8 bedrooms, using one as their home the remaining rooms became the home of the Delta Beta a local fraternity. The use of Delta Beta had been selected because it would be the name of the chapter of Beta Theta Pi if and when the colony was chartered.
Eventually things were in enough order to apply for official Chapter status with the national fraternity. Key support for the application was received from Arizona Congressman John Rhodes, Kansas State '38, who spoke in support of the cause at a meeting of the Board of Trustees in May, 1959, in Washington D.C.
In August of 1959, six members piled into Lou Linxwiler's 4-cylinder 180D Mercedes and proceeded to French Lick, Indiana in pursuit of the charter at the National Convention. The trip was not in vain and the charter was granted. The Delta Beta Chapter was subsequently installed October 31, 1959, with Sherwood Bonney, President of Beta Theta Pi, as installing officer.
The new chapter immediately made its mark on the Campus by quickly ranking high in scholarship, politics, and athletic prowess. Peter R. (Pete) Diener, AZ '61, had become the President of the Chapter and then vice president of the Interfraternity Council as well as its judiciary committee chairman. Charles Raetzman, AZ'60, was awarded the Governor's Trophy as the outstanding senior football player, and Anthony Matz was elected 1960 football captain. Miles (Gus) Zeller and Newton Lee were starters on the varsity basketball team. Zeller was also a starting pitcher on the varsity baseball team and saw action in the College World Series.
The University of Arizona was at that time expanding rapidly. The school had inadequate dorms and not enough student apartments could be found in the area. A housing shortage inspired The University to pioneer new ways to fund residential structures. Among the opportunities was the University’s plan to create a fraternity row using Federal money. The funds would be received by the University and then redirected to fraternities that were interested in acquiring new housing; the fraternities would then enter into an agreement for repayment of the funds.
Delta Beta was offered the opportunity to build and only a year after being chartered, Delta Beta was on the way to a more permanent new home. The Beta Theta Pi Board of Trustees heard representatives of the Delta Beta chapter detail plans for the financing of the house at their meeting on August 27, 1960. The house was occupied in the fall of 1961. With room for 40 men along with a large living room/dining room area, the all-important Chapter Room, a useful roof area and the full basement, it was a stellar improvement over prior living arrangements. Beta’s presence on campus expanded and the Chapter grew apace.
The chapter succeeded owing to forces unique to that era of state history. The University of Arizona, founded in 1886, had been, until the fall of 1959, the only university in Arizona. It was the place where students from throughout the state went, both for the undeniable diversity of educational opportunity and the opportunity to attended school away from home. The then twenty six fraternities on campus had been in place for a good number of years and enjoyed significant rushing advantages as well as assurances of alumni support. Thus, the Betas were pledged by many young men who had either a passing knowledge of Beta from their home areas in the East, or came from a prep-school environment that viewed fraternities more positively than might those from public high schools.
Even from the first, the Chapter tended to attract a more mature, well traveled experienced individual who could identify with those who, amazing as it sounds today, might not wear socks with their loafers. (Almost a social gaffe at that time in Arizona.) The chapter appealed to individuals who favored Madras shirts, Topsiders, and Bermuda shorts, in the midst of an environment where the standard mode of attire for most men at the University consisted of Levis and a white tee shirt. Clearly, the Betas dressed differently, had perhaps wider perspectives, different ideas and attracted those who had similar life experiences. During these years in addition to the Chapters continued prowess in intramural and collegiate athletics others were devoting their talents to endeavors other than athletics. Richard Rea became IFC Vice President; Peter Winterble, The Editor of the Arizona Wildcat, the University newspaper; John Wulffson, the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Air Force, Cadet Wing and Thomas White and William Nicholls, members of the Student Senate
The end of the initial chapter’s life (1970) began on the killing fields of Vietnam. The painful events of that era shattered or changed many lives, including those at the University of Arizona. The threat of being drafted was high, fewer men were pledging, fewer were making grades (making those that failed susceptible to draft) and the entire picture began to look bleak. As a result the social fraternity system as a whole was undergoing a relatively severe down cycle and the Formative years came to a close
There is no
reasonable way that the current, excellent cadre of Beta
Brothers could have been influenced by these events. There
may, however, be a lesson to be learned from the obvious love
that each of those “early adapters” express presently for each
other after nearly 50 years. If today’s Brothers can come
close to this intense feeling and maintain it as it has been
maintained by their Alumni, then these examples will have
provided benefit to all
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