Celebrating 61 Years of Brotherhood.

The FIRST fraternity on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

Sigma Tau Gamma 1952

By Marv Herpel '54 First Chapter President

In 1950 at SEMO, there were three male and three female “literary societies” which started prior, but through the years had become local fraternities and sororities. Freshmen were invited to many parties and “beer busts” and a number of us joined the different societies. About 2 dozen guys, mostly living in Myers Hall, and about half in the societies, talked during the summer and early fall and thought that we spent more time with each other than we did with our brothers in the local groups. So in the fall of 1951, we decided that we should form our own fraternity. You can not believe what an upheaval this caused! We were breaking a very old tradition (my sister and future brother-in-law were both society members). The societies we had joined thought that we were traitors, but worst of all, the Dean of the College, Rose, wanted to stop us. For the next three years he did everything he could to penalize us when he had the chance. We were very fortunate to have the Dean of Students, Holmes, on our side.

We decided to apply to Kappa Alpha (KA), a Southern fraternity, and called ourselves Kappa Alpha Alpha (KAA). There were no noble reasons why we picked KA. We were just a bunch of 18, 19 and 20 year old guys that wanted to start a national fraternity. We gathered information on a number of organizations and we found the KA's to have the most interesting background. We liked the fact that they were Southern and we were in Southeast Missouri. We did the whole Southern bit. We wore Confederate hats with the flag on top. We grew beards for homecoming and we did the Rebel Yell. During this time we also did a few pranks. The guys sometimes got carried away and wanted people to know that we were on campus. One example of this is when some of the brothers took down the American flag on the main flag pole in front of Academic Hall and raised the Confederate flag in its place. They got it to the top and a voice came out of the third floor of Academic Hall, “very nice boys, now take it down and come up to my office”. The voice came from Dean Rhodes office. I was not the president of the Fraternity that was Dave Brandon. Poor Dave! Actually I was elected president in the fall of 1952. We did a number of small things but not serious enough to get us recognized by the University. There were many other incidents, funny, but not serious that formed our long close relationships. It was during this time that I wore out a foot path to Dean Holmes office from my dorm room on my way to Rose’s office. We applied to the National KA body and were accepted with one small problem. One of our members was part Jewish. We could join but Wilford “Willy” Moonshine could not be apart of our group. We called a meeting and took a vote, without Willy, goodbye KA. There was no doubt, take us all or don’t take us at all. The vote was unanimous. Maybe we were ahead of our time when it came to discrimination? As a side note, it took six years for Willie to get his degree, but he had a very successful career in the food industry (with Nestle).

Regroup. What do we do now? We did some research and found a fraternity that had a strong presence on small Midwest campuses and also in Missouri. We applied to Sigma Tau Gamma National Fraternity and were accepted without reservations. We had a wonderful instillation on December 6, 1952. The installation was conducted by a degree team from Alpha Sigma Chapter at Southern Illinois University. After the installation, a turkey dinner and a dance were held. Dean Holmes was a special guest at the dinner and gave the welcoming speech from the college to the visitors. Twenty-five coeds were hostesses for the out of town guests. Attending the meeting from Sigma Tau Gamma National was Earl Webb, Grand President, Emmett Elliss, an original founder of Sigma Tau Gamma National Fraternity and E. Kennedy Whitesitt, Central Providence Archon. This impressive ceremony introduced the first national fraternity belonging to the National Inter-fraternity Conference to SEMO. It was from this humble beginning, that a bunch of guys who had the same set of values and really liked being together, have stayed friends for 56 years and get together every two years from all parts of the country for a reunion.

I feel that one of the most memorable traditions we established as a Fraternity was the pinning ceremony. The brothers would put on their coats and ties, walk over to the women’s dorm, and serenade our sisters with the “Sweetheart of Sigma Tau” as they came out on the porch. Our brother would place his fraternity pin on her collar and everybody cheered. Many of these pinnings became marriages that have lasted for many years.

The Founding Fathers of Alpha Phi Chapter

Marv Herpel ‘54, Larry Darnell ‘54, Dale Duggan ‘54, Willy Moonshine ‘54, Ron Danback ‘55, Herb Wichkham ‘55, Harry Nettle ‘55, Gordon Weber ‘55, Fred Stone ‘57, Glenn Reinke ‘55, Ray Pigg, John Bell ‘57 ,Don Burggrabe ‘55, Richard Scatizzi ‘55, John McCarthy ‘54, Don Rowe ‘55, Wilbur Miller ‘55, Ken Hopson ‘55, Walter Williams ‘53, Don Fritz ‘54, John Bradford ‘55, Don Snelson ‘54, James Lee ‘54

The First Pledge Class December, 1952:

Mike R, Meyer ‘56, Bob Lamprecht ‘56, Ray Lamb ‘56, Kenny Dement ‘55, Stanley Detring ‘54, Don Rettinger ‘56, Bob Nordman, Bill Rockwell’56, Ray Vick ‘54, John Kipp ‘56, Rudolph Kem ‘56, Phil Toia ‘56

Sigma Tau Gamma Officers Fall 1952:

President:  Marvin Herpel, Vice President:  Don Rowe, Secretary:  Wilbur Miller, Treasurer:  Ken Hopson, Corresponding Secretary:  Walt Williams, Historian-Chaplain:  Larry Darnell, Sergeant at Arms:  Don Snelson, Faculty Advisors:  Douglas Wells, Jack Wimp

Sigma Tau Gamma Officers Winter 1953:

President:  Larry Darnell, Vice President:  Don Fritz, Secretary:  Wilbur Miller, Treasurer:  Ken Hopson, Corresponding Secretary:  Marvin Herpel, Historian-Chaplain:  John Bradford, Sergeant at Arms:  Jim Lee, Cossaf:  Dale Dugan, Faculty Advisors:  Douglas Wells, Jack Wimp

First Seven Chapter Presidents:

  1. Marv Herpel ‘54
  2. Larry Darnell ‘54
  3. Rudy Kem ‘56
  4. Ray Lamb ‘56
  5. Don Rettinger ‘56
  6. Bob Crawford ‘57
  7. Harry Wells ‘57

Taken from the 1952 Southeast Sagamore Yearbook.

"The one year we were Kappa Alpha Alpha."

Contrary to all expectations about newly organized organizations, the Kappa Alpha Alpha Fraternity was a strong and forceful organization from the very beginning.  It may be classefied as an infant organization, however, because it is the youngest of social organizations on the campus.  It has shown its strength and adult tendencies by initiating an expansive coordinated plan of activities.

Although the K.A.A.'s were organized too late in the fall term to enter a candidate in the SAGAMORE Queen Contest, they did contruct a prize-winning float for the Homecoming parade, which employed the theme "Carbondale hit a brick wall."  This crashup was so ably depicted that their float took second honors.  An overturned campus jalopy, a false brick wall, and several 'lifelike" dead K.A.A.'s did the trick.  It should also be stated that S.I.U.'s power was really cut off by Cape State's line.

At the beginning of the spring term new pledges were initiated.  The proverbial "hellweek," so common with many fraternities, was replaced by a "help week" during which the initiates carried out projects for the betterment of the community.  However, shenanigans weren't completely forgotten.  On reverse day, February 12, the pledges were allowed to wield the paddles.  It is doubtful though, if they swatted the members too vigorously, knowing that at the end of the day conditions would be back to normal.    

On February 10, as a token of appreciation, the pledges gave an outing for the members, which was held at the park near the waterworks.  The members returned the compliment by entertaining the pledges at a barbecue, which took place February 17.  Looking to the future, this growing organization is making plans for national affiliation.