The First Alumni Reunion
By Ray Lamb '56 Fourth Chapter President
Fall 2008, when the Sig Tau’s of Alpha Phi (years 1952-60) gather in Branson, MO, it will be forty-two years of many gatherings of fellowship and fraternal bonding with brothers from across our great nation.
How did it all begin, and what makes it work all these years? It appears that our founding brothers were a rather unique group, in that they loved life and enjoyed their special connection with each other on campus, and wanted to extend their friendship in the many years ahead.
Many of us married co-eds from SEMO, so this further cemented our friendship together. In my case, I graduated on May 13, 1956, got married on May 19th; to a girl I met on campus. Another brother got married the day before to a girl from SEMO. Yet another brother married a co-ed the following week, and many did the same over the next few years. So as you see, we have many things in common and still do today.
We first began talking of a common plan for a mini reunion in the spring of 1956. Marv Herpel ’54, at the time in the Army, Ron Danback ’55 in business in St. Louis, and me, (who was about to graduate, get married and go into the Army) felt a need to keep our friendship on going, no matter where our paths might take us in the years ahead. I suggested that we agree upon a future date to meet, but the date had to be one that we could easily remember and never forget. I pledged that if we agreed upon a specific date, I would paint the date on the school water tower next to Academic Hall. We agreed upon a date! In the still of a spring night, my roommate (a brother) and I painted in white numbers 6-6-66 on the water tower! No one but us knew what it meant. There was considerable amount of talk about its meaning and who did it. All we did was smile and ask, what do you think it means? Several years later, we decided that Las Vegas would be an exciting adventure for the reunion. Ron and Sis drove in from Dallas, Marv and Patti along with Kay and I flew in from St. Louis. Our first reunion was a great adventure, which began our gatherings that continue to this day.
Following Vegas, we began meeting as a larger group in the Lake of the Ozarks area, every 5 years, over a 20 year period. We then decided on a three year interval. During the past 10 years we have gathered every 2 years. During these 42 years we have met 14 to 15 times, from Las Vegas, Lake of the Ozarks, Sacramento, CA, Bay Harbor, MI, Coeur d’ Alene, ID, Charleston, SC, to Branson, MO.
We have lost 26 brothers and 8 wives over the 56 years, but the widows and re-married brothers keep coming back just to be together again. We have 62 people coming to Chateau on the Lake in Branson, MO this fall. It could be our biggest reunion ever! We are a unique group from a unique time, our friendship is forever.
Here’s to the beer I left on the bar, here’s to the Brothers where ever they are! If they have gone to the chapter eternal it does not matter, Where ever we gather we feel and hear their joyful laughter. We came from the Big Smoke and farms and towns in the Southeast, It was a college town called Cape where we all meet. Where will we gather next, it doesn’t matter, it’s always a treat.