Beta Theta Pi - The General (National) Fraternity
Founded August 8, 1839 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Beta Theta Pi became the first fraternity established West of the Allegheny Mountains. The principles that Beta was founded on more than 150 years ago still hold true today: Mutual assistance in the honorable labors and aspirations of life, devotion to the cultivation of the intellect, unsullied friendship, and unfaltering fidelity -- these are held as objects worthy of the highest aim and purpose of all Betas. Beta Theta Pi continues to be a testament to its ideals of brotherhood and friendship as one of the oldest continually operating fraternities in the country. Beta counts more than 165,000 initiated members, 118,000 of whom are still living. Beta Theta Pi prides itself on recruiting outstanding young men and cultivating in them the highest standards of excellence. We welcome your inquiries.
Again, the Beta is distinguishable and distinguished from all other kinds of fraternity men whatsoever by just a little warmer and stronger, just a little tenderer and more enduring fraternity feeling than any of them can attain to. For it was always so. I do not in the least know how it happened, nor why it persisted after it happened, but a long time ago there came into Beta Theta Pi a fraternity spirit that was, and is, and apparently will continue to be, unique. — Willis O. Robb, Ohio Wesleyan 1879
Delta Beta - 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. As Rich Rea (‘63) points out below “History is extremely difficult to write…” Delta Betas written history we hope will become a product of many voices and memories of events fused into a single meaningful narrative. The initiation of the process is a product of Richard Rea (‘63 ) and Dale Sparks ( ). Peter Winterable (‘64 ) a past Editor of the Arizona Wildcat has agreed to be the initial Editor. It is the Alumni Associations hope that many will follow their example as this outstanding cadre of Delta Beta men continue a long tradition of “Marching along in Beta Theta Pi”.—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
History is extremely difficult to write; much harder than fiction. This is particularly true when the writers essentially lived some, but not all of the events captured. Add to this the time that has passed and the fading (if not faded) memories of everyone involved and one is finds that the effort, while necessary, may be less exact than hoped, if not more trouble than it is worth.
The source for the beginning of Delta Beta’s history is a document prepared by Art McClaren, who did research in Beta’s headquarters at Miami University in Ohio. I have used his basic statements without attempting to include his entire document.
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. Among those present were John Siegle, Northwestern '27 #456; Russ Hastings, Kansas '32 #255; Paul Foster, Purdue '17; and Rex Wray, Pennsylvania '22.
Lou remembers a discussion resumed about the advisability and means of establishing a Beta Chapter at the University of Arizona. At the time, there were 25 other fraternities on campus.
A couple of months after Lou’s arrival, the older members of the group had 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. Hank 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.
One of the first topics discussed was finance, and Lou thought $20,000 would be needed to put a chapter in housing on campus. After some discussion it was felt $5,000 to $10,000 would be required for up-front costs. At that point, one of the older alumni said, "It's yours; when do you want it"?
The Dean of Men, whose job then and now includes oversight of Greek organizations, was approached on the issue, and given his approval, university records were examined in order to obtain the names of potential legacies (relatives of Betas), Betas then at Arizona from other chapters, and other details that were used to form a nucleus of names for bidding.
One of the interested parties turned out to be Dupuy F. Cayce, WSTM '31 # 353, a Vice President of American Telephone and Telegraph corporation in New York, whose son, Forster, was a freshman at Arizona.
Lou and Hank then held informal rush events in the Student Union and the first pledges were "ribboned" in Lou's apartment. Meanwhile, the two men rented an apartment building with 8 bedrooms, using one as their home. They placed a sign out front advertising it as the home of the Delta Beta chapter, which was considered 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. On the sign, underneath “Delta Beta” appeared in small letters the words, "Colony of Beta Theta Pi.” A pin was designed with a B inside of the Greek delta: At the time of formal establishment of the Delta Beta local fraternity, Forster Cayce was entered as number one on the rolls.
The original Beta house was on the southeast corner of Speedway and Mountain. A small house with garage, it became home to the various pledges. These included Forster Cayce, Wayne Burk, Pete Diener, George Knox, Bill Zuhowski, Phil Dering, Forster Cooper, Tom Glover, Buzz Bartylla, Jim Carruth, Willie Edwards, Bob Petrucciani, George Foster, Chuck Raetzman, Bob Waddell and Ed Emory.
Bob Waddell, a transfer from Colorado College and the first President, reports that the first house was occupied by Forster Cayce, Pete Diener, Forster Cooper, and Judson May. He does not remember if Doug Jones, Jim Carruth, Buzz Bartylla, Bob Baldock, or Tom Glover were present initially, but they joined us that first year.”
Questions have been raised as to how this group came together. To suggest that there was any type of formal rush is hard to reconstruct. Most of the men were older and had been at other schools or in the military. Bill Zuhowski had attended one school on a football scholarship, had enlisted in the Marines and played football for the Marine team, and had attended Arizona State before heading for Tucson. George Foster had been a Marine, Diener had attended Stanford University.
I’ve often asked how this eclectic group ever came to coalesce into a pledge class and ultimately into a chapter of Beta Theta Pi. It is to be hoped that those that were “present at the creation” will be able to help fill in the picture. At this point, however, it appears there were really three separate sources.
One was Forster Cayce, whose Beta father was active, very interested, and willing to provide money to support a fraternity, and he was active in recruiting some of the fellows.
A second source was Hank Anderson who, with his campus and academic involvement, identified men who seemed to fit his idea of the right type. I believe that may be how future chapter president Pete Diener, a charismatic and remarkably humorous leader (he got engaged his senior year using a rubber band as an engagement ring) was recruited.
A third source of men seems to have been athletics, since many of the first pledges were varsity athletes who were seeking fraternity membership without having to endure the “pledging process” or hazing that was so prevalent at the time. Most of the older men, used to making decisions for themselves and pretty sure of themselves, tended to view the typical fraternity scene with heavy skepticism. Delta Beta, it turned out, made an attractive alternative.
Eventually things were in enough order to apply for official Chapter status with the national fraternity. The application process set in motion. 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, the famous resort town on the Ohio in southern Indiana in pursuit of the charter. Their trip was not in vain; 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.
At this point it should be mentioned that a group in the 1920s or 1930s formed a local fraternity called Beta Chi, and had petitioned Beta repeatedly for a chapter charter. These entreaties were never approved, but when the 1959 charter was granted, 17 of the original members of Beta Chi were included in the initiation process and finally received their Beta badges.
There were twenty Charter Members of Delta Beta, led by Thomas Blair Glover, AZ'61. There was also Kingston Jay Smallhouse AZ' 28, a highly respected rancher in the Tucson area, who was one of the members of the Beta Chi group. Another initiate was Paul M. Strickler, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania ’26 and the manager of the Tucson office of brokerage E. F. Hutton.
In addition, Robert Lynn Waddell, Colorado College '62, the local Delta Beta Chapter's first President, and Henry Delbert Anderson, Ohio Wesleyan '52, were also initiated.
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.
Following its official establishment, Beta at Arizona conducted its first true “formal” rush for a pledge class. The original house, small by any standard, had been abandoned and an old apartment house on Park, one building south of Speedway, was used. A two story building, it had four apartments on the second floor and a small living room, dining room, and kitchen on the first. Each apartment had two or three occupants.
A remarkable group of men formed the first Beta pledge class, and included Michael Dickson, Carl Brown, John Fonte, Warner Lee, Dan Dunlap, Bart Zeller, Rich Rea, Tony Matz, Grant Logan, and Tom Ralph, each of whom deserves here at least a paragraph describing their academic, social, fraternal, and later professional successes -- as well as a suitable number of humorous and in some cases vaguely scandalous tales.
There were also others who pledged but left school before becoming active. The house, being small, was home to a few of the pledges and some of the actives. Included in the actives living in the house were Forster Cooper and Foster Cayce, Bill Zuhowski, and Wayne Burk. The residence had a second floor balcony (as well as access to the roof) from which water balloons could be launched with great range and accuracy, a favorite pastime for warm fall and spring days.
The house, while small, seemed to have found its niche. The intramural athletic teams held their own (often with the inclusion of Bill Zuhowski at critical junctures). Campus involvement was high and the men formed the friendships that are a significant benefit of fraternity life.
The chapter, nothing if not peripatetic, moved again the following year to very small house on Mountain. This house had only two attributes that could possibly be so called. The Pi Beta Phi house was next door and the Kappa Alpha Theta house was directly across the street. Best of all, the Thetas had a volleyball court that provided endless hours of activity for the Betas. A few Betas even managed to find lifelong partners in one or other of the locations.
The University of Arizona was at that time expanding rapidly. The school had inadequate dorms, not enough student apartments could be found in the area, and there grew to be a housing shortage. The University came up with – and pioneered – a new way to fund residential structures. Among the opportunities was the University’s plan to create a fraternity row on a former chicken farm, 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.
The UofA sought and obtained promises to construct the houses now existing on Vine Street, north of Speedway. When Beta approached the University all the lots had been spoken for, so unless one of the fraternities backed out, there was no room for a Beta house.
Indeed, one of the fraternities decided against construction after an architect had drawn up plans and University had approved them. Beta was offered the opportunity to build according to the plans previously approved, with the provision that any additional alterations would have to be approved by the university and paid for by the fraternity. Thus, 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 proposed chapter house was a two-story building that would house between 35 and 40 members, but lacked some features Beta’s architect Russ Hastings thought necessary, among which the most important was a basement.
Russ, a well-recognized architect in Tucson, then altered the plans to include the basement. Col. Herbert C. Chambers, Jr., (USAF, Ret.) Ariz. '30 was instrumental in raising funds for the new house, with substantial assistance from Dupuy Casey.
The house was then built, and occupied in the fall of 1961. With room for 40 men (and a then-required Housemother), along with a large living room/dining room area as well as 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, as well as a chance to go to school away from home, especially if they lived in the Phoenix area. Because Phoenix was so much larger than Tucson (or the rest of the state, for that matter) it meant that Phoenix students were extremely well represented. And since the then-26 fraternities on campus had been in place for a good number of years, the older, well established fraternities 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. It probably did not hurt that many, though certainly not all, of the members had the good fortune to be born to families of some financial strength and that provided another sense of shared experiences for many.
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. (Not that there were not those who did not have that good fortune but many did.)
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 began on the killing fields of Vietnam. The painful events of that era shattered or changed many lives, including those of many at the University of Arizona. Men were being drafted, the threat of being drafted was high, there were other significant pressures, and as a result the social fraternity system as a whole was undergoing a relatively severe down cycle. Fewer men were pledging, fewer were making grades (making those that failed susceptible to draft) and the entire picture began to look bleak – certainly not at first, but the signs were there.
Coupled with the issues facing the members, the house itself continued to be a tremendous financial drain. The university, in advancing funds, had structured the required rents to include a 20% surcharge that was to build up a reserve if needed. That high loan requirement in turn caused the room rents to those living in the house to be high.
A further problem was that the budget required everyone who was a member to eat every meal at the house. This might have been fine for those living in the house, but it made a difficult logistical problem for those who lived elsewhere.
Yet another issue was the general culture of the 1960s. To suggest that all of the tie- dying and pot smoking occurred only at Berkeley would be to ignore what was going on around the country. Clearly, these were times that called for a “free and easy lifestyle.” In response, the University felt it needed to try to limit how much could be done.
A key problem was that there was significant desire by many to move out the house in order to enjoy the lifestyle of an apartment. Personal privacy, open drinking, socializing with women – those things that could only be done at the fraternity house with extreme care, if at all -- seemed awfully appealing. So brothers found ways to not live in the house.
Then the lower number of young men going through rush began to have a negative impact on the quality of pledges. Although Beta fared as well as any, total membership began to decline. This in turn put more pressure on getting enough people to live and eat in the house just keep the money flowing. Eventually, the number of men making grades began dropping and those who did not make grades found themselves facing the draft or the need to escape it.
Sadly, that cycle continued until 1969 when the charter was lifted. Even so, the dollar-amount of the overages had built up sufficiently so that the house sat vacant for nearly two years before the money ran out.
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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