Fifteen years ago, Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity celebrated its official return to Northwestern State University after an 18-year hiatus. In early 1999, a group of student leaders set out on a journey to re-charter the Beta Omicron chapter.
Less than a year later, on February 12, 2000, a group of 29 young men earned their charter. With the dedicated support of distinguished alumni, advisors, family and hard-working brothers, the dream of a new fraternity was alive once again. That tradition of leadership began in 1929, with the founding of Phi Kappa Nu, a local fraternity that later became the Beta Omicron Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi in 1956. Today, its student leaders carry on that rich legacy of excellence as one of the top student organizations on campus and one of the most respected chapters in the national Fraternity.
In those 15 years, alumni purchased and paid-off a chapter house, earned countless campus and national awards, erected a wrought-iron clock on campus, established a million-dollar endowed scholarship for Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity members, and more importantly, have changed the lives of more than 265 initiates. The chapter has a track record of developing ‘Exceptional Leaders’ through ‘Uncommon Opportunities’ forged from the bonds of brotherhood and fellowship.
Beta Omicron chapter’s re-founding archon, Wes Breeden, penned this letter to all chapter members and alumni, reflecting on fond memories:
They say a memory fades, and I guess it does. But some things in time just have a way of sticking with you. They remain implanted in your mind up until the very end. It’s not that those moments were more memorable than any others. It’s because these special memories become the composites that make up our bones and breathe life into our souls. They remain part of us. For these cherished moments are where we lay the foundation on which we build the rest of our lives.
I can close my eyes and feel the cold metal of that chain link fence I hopped as I made my way to the 50-yard line. My stomach churning as my mind raced. Would others show up? Will this be the end or just the beginning? There may never be another moment in my life in which I felt so alone. Then to have that feeling immediately and completely reverse as the warmth of brotherly love rushed over me. That emotional change occurred once I began to see the shadowy figures of friends moving towards me in the dark. They each converged on that one spot at mid-field, having come with a definite purpose.
I can still hear Ruston Bearcat football playing on a radio, at a brother’s stubborn insistence, late on a Friday night (We miss you J.P.). All because a few of us were determined to have our letters built, painted, and in the end zone before that first home game. At the time, we thought it would make us “official” to the world. Looking back on that late Friday night, and seeing our young group complete its first challenge; I now know it really just made us official in our own minds. A lesson I think about to this very day, every time I see those ten feet tall letters standing proudly. In a box, in my home, lays a neatly folded t-shirt stained with blue paint; from packing those wet letters to the field early that next Saturday morning. That t-shirt is still one of my proudest possessions.
Sometimes I wish my phone would ring again and I would hear that rough familiar sounding voice from the other side, who would tell me once again “We’re going on a boat ride! Get your guys together.” If it ever does happen, I promise I won’t ever say again, “But Uncle George, it’s 8 in the morning!” How many times did Dr. Roach somehow get you into that full class? How much pride swelled in your chest when you heard one extremely fired up alumnus (Who will go nameless. You know who you are!) yell at a bar full of Sigma Nu’s, “You want to see a house? I’ll show you a f#%@&n house!” That alumnus, along with a long list of other alumni, kept his word and showed those Sigma Nu’s a house. To all of our alumni, you may have thought you gave us a roof and four walls, but the real gift was a little more intangible. You gave us a blueprint to follow for when it was no longer our time to be in the active chapter. Because of you, I understood from very early on, what life long brotherhood really means. I thank you for that.
I still think the shag carpet in Hector’s road construction orange-colored van is cool, and that Detroit has yet to come up with a better road trip vehicle. Sometimes I wonder if my daughter will be immune to salmonella, due to the large amount of raw chicken her father ingested from the Pi Kapp BBQ pit? Every brother knew that if he waited till the food was 100% cooked, it was gone and you were left hungry. In this electronic day and age, when no one writes checks, I wonder how our now active brother’s go about securing bands to play at their parties. We knew we had at least 4 days to get the money in the account. Well, at least that’s what our treasurer always told us.
These are just a few of so many wonderful memories that rushed through my head today, as our dear Beta Omicron hits the 15-year date of our re-chartering. Reflecting back, it’s easy to see how much we have changed. As I collected your Christmas cards a few months back, I notice a little less hair and maybe a little more weight. I’ve heard about the new jobs and the successes each of us has had throughout these years. I have seen the beautiful families that have grown and the happiness that shows on your face from being an amazing father. Yes, we have changed, but I thought you might like to know that our chapter hasn’t.
Our undergraduate brothers are young. So young, that looking at them will make you feel instantly old. But after you get over that initial thought, you will be amazed that you were once that young, and yet accomplished so much. You will see your old chapter brothers in each of their faces. They will tell you that they are from Haughton, Sulphur, and Choudrant, our own hometowns. You will find them hard at work, feverishly learning how to manage life’s problems, just as we attempted to do in chapter meetings each Sunday night. In our chapter house you will find them celebrating together, leaning on each other, and bear hugging it out after a healthy dose of ultimate respect has been properly administered. Then you will notice the admiration and passion they have for carrying on your “Non Fraternity” tradition. My brothers, your chapter is in good hands. You should be very proud of your legacy and the new heights in which our younger brothers have taken it.
But I keep going back to those 15 years, fifteen of the fastest years to ever pass us by. I have promised myself that today I would make a few phone calls to brothers whom I haven’t talked to in a while, and I hope that you will take the time to do the same. Tonight, I’m going to pull that old box from the closet that has my t-shirt with the blue stains and show it to my wife. She doesn’t know it, but she is in for a long evening of me boring her with war stories from “the good old days.” This will go on until she just can’t take it anymore. Little does she know that I have thousands of tales! However, I also know that you do as well. Please take a little bit of your time today and share a story or two from our experiences in the chapter. Beta Omicron is something to be proud of, because each of us played a role in the success that she is today. I thank each of you for taking the time to be my brother and am excited to see what the next 15 years has in store for all of us.
Your Brother In Pi Kappa Phi,
Wesley L. Breeden
A formal recognition of the 15th anniversary of Beta Omicron’s re-chartering will be marked later this Spring at the chapter’s annual Rose Ball formal and on October 16-17, during the NSU Homecoming weekend. In 2016, the Beta Omicron chapter will commemorate 60 years since its original founding.
Beta Omicron chapter re-chartering members and alumni are encouraged to share memories from 1999-2000. Please post reflections in the comments section below or email to pikappNSU@gmail.com to be included in the chapter archives.
In the video below, Beta Omicron chapter 1956 founding member John “Buck” Wheat (#29) recalls the first time he met the re-chartering Pi Kapps in 2000.