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Rho Lambda & Oklahoma Dekes Newsletter

August 2023

2023 Reunion

reunion.Don’t miss the 2023 Reunion/Saturday Morning Tailgate for October 20-21! See here for details and how to make a Tailgate Donation

Contact Brother Fred Streb to arrange lodging and Brother Burns for any details. Go here for their Deke contact info.

RANDY

We’re growing Randy’s Fund! Do you have a 401K? Please consider donating a tax-deductible percentage of your annual distribution to our Randy Morrison OU Scholarship Fund! It’s easier, for me, at least, to donate monthly. $50/month for 20 months is barely noticeable, but I know it makes a difference. It’s easy to set this up on OU’s Scholarship Fund page (see above).

The password we emailed to you opens any file. If you don’t have it, contact us. 

FROM THE DKE RL Board:

It is truly the dawg days of summer with record triple-digit heat and not a drop of rain in sight. Sooner Football is soon to be upon us and so is our annual reunion, “Rho Lambda Roundup,” October 20-21. Plan now to attend our Friday night dinner and awards, the Saturday tailgate at 700 Elm, and take in the game against UCF. I really look forward to this event to renew our relationships with our DEKE Brothers!

Kerothen, Bob

ΡΛ Brother of the Month – JOEL KETONEN

NORTH SEA

“The Scottish preacher I bought my ’64 Morgan from took really good care of it. I loved that car,” Joel said. “Properly designed for UK roads, I spent my time off the oil rig exploring backcountry Scotland & England, plus hanging out in London. I worked for SeDco (Southeastern Drilling Company) then, a drilling contractor formed by and led by Bill Clemmons, who was governor of Texas twice and former Under Secretary of Defense. When I was “short notice” transferred to Malaysia, I had the Morgan shipped to my sister’s place near Albany, NY, and headed for Sarawak’s oil fields for the balance of my contract.

MALAYSIA

“Sarawak is a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, south of Singapore, southwest of the Philippines and the mainland eleven states, quasi-near Vietnam and Thailand. In WWII, Japan ravaged Sarawak’s, and for that matter, all of Malaya’s population. For some years now, the People’s Republic of China has been busy ‘claiming’ their rights to some of Malaysia’s 44 trillion cubic feet of Sarawak’s and Brunei’s oil & natural gas.

“In my time there, the PRC didn’t have an offshore drilling industry, the only concern was further east in Sabah’s waters where Filipino pirates were active. Historically, the area was semi-accurately described by a colonial Brit who once stated, ‘Avoid Borneo at all costs. The sea is filled with pirates and the interior with savage cannibals.’ Truth is, cannibalism wasn’t a problem, headhunting was, and if one went far enough into the ulu, could still be.

“Our rig off Sarawak had Americans, Canadians, Malays – (the vast majority Muslim), Chinese, and Ibans, one of several local former-heading tribes…different languages, diets, customs, and three separate kitchens. The Tool Pusher had me fixing every kind of equipment on the rig. I discovered that using a needle scaler inside a metal room is no fun. When I arrived, the “local nationals” were more users of toilets than flushers of toilets. When one finally broke, I said ‘You no flush, I no fix.’ I had to wait a while. Eventually, they got the hint, cleaned things up, I fixed it, and we became colleagues.

BOILED HEADS

“This is an American pre- ‘39-‘45 War, 12-inch howitzer on Corregidor crowded with Japanese tourists. Lots of Japanese visitors were coming back to WWII battlegrounds in the 70s. My Borneo coworkers laughed about how headhunting, once used for ‘population control,’ had spiked when Japan invaded Borneo, and now the Japanese came looking for remains of family members who’d died there. The locals said the old, taken heads – really don’t know how they cleaned them back when – still hanging in bags in their families’ traditional inland ‘long houses’ out in the ulu (‘bush’ if you are British, ‘outback’ if Aussie) were going for a small fortune whenever a descendant, seeking Japanese remains, was told they were ‘absolutely’ Japanese.

“After a year and a half, I left Sarawak to backpack around Europe for five months. Here’s a photo showing mostly ‘39-‘45 War French veterans at the Arc De Triomphe honoring their peres for having stopped German and Austrian soldiers at Verdun’s blood-soaked trenches – ‘Ils ne passe pas.’

ANGELA

“In ’76, I was back in the States at a Belle Chase, LA shipyard. While helping prep the SeDco 712 for the tow to the Irish Sea, I re-fractured my ankle (first broken in the Army). While on corporate medical leave in Albany near where my sister and mother lived, I was a patient of the physical therapy office where my soon-to-be wife Angela was working.

“Our first dates were interesting. I’d be driving my right-hand-drive, 4-on-the-floor Morgan with my recovering, injured ankle, with no way to see around vehicles in front of me to pass. Picture driving a RH car on upstate NY winding, twisting 2-lane country roads with Ang sitting in what we consider the driver’s side, me feeling this is a good place to pass a milk truck. Was it safe? Hell, I couldn’t see, no clue; however, I did have Ang for an ‘early warning system’: if she was just white-knuckling, it was probably safe, however if I could hear her sucking air, gasping, taking short breaths, odds were very high that swinging out to pass wasn’t such a good idea – yet she was fool enough to say yes to marrying me when asked.

DALLAS

“I was finally called back in to work at the Dallas home office late in January of ’77. So, I had to drive down from New York to Texas in the Morgan, in winter. It was warmer to drive with the side curtains off. Ang and I then had a long-distance relationship until I flew up to Albany to get married on 3 July ’77. I ended up staying in SeDco’s home office in Dallas. Including my time overseas, I was with them for a little over 12 years.

“After SeDco, I joined a telecommunications switch manufacturer in Dallas. Later, I started working for a banking “backroom operations” equipment manufacturer and maintainer. The company made high quality, high-volume check and document scanners, as well as sending out supporting field personnel to maintain their own equipment and a number of the company’s competitor’s equipment, too.

In ’79, our son Pel was born, and in ’83, our daughter Kendra. Not long before I left the oilpatch, I picked up a ‘59 four-seater Morgan Motor Car bon marche from a Houston hotrod shop. That’s daughter Kendra in it, wearing her leather crash helmet. Our garage was getting full what with the ’63 4/4 Morgan, the 4-seater and the ’53 MG TD I had inherited.

“This a photo of Kendra, at 4, our son Pel, at 8, and Hobo, our female rescue dog. Hobo loved mud, once getting so plastered with it that she was almost baked solid like a chia pet by a Texas summer sun before we came home. To de-mud her, Pel and I hosed her off in the kids’ pool.

Pel’s been into trains since his earliest days, so we’d stop whenever he’d see one. His proudest train watcher day was when an engineer stopped, let him board then drive the EMD a mile up and back. Five at the time, now 44, he can still tell you the engine number. Also into British sports cars, (I wonder why), we gave him a little Matchbox Morgan when he was twoish or so, that he always had to have in his hand before going to sleep.

“This is Pel’s family today. Grandson Aidan just graduated from high school, and granddaughter Abigail is seven. We live in Texas, so our OU inflatable goes up for every OU/UT game and every OU Bowl game. Aidan is guarding it here with his lightsaber.

“Kendra made E-7 in the Air Force last year. Years back we were all set to spend a week on the Appalachian Trail together, but the USAF sent her to Korea instead while I checked into a hospital for completely unanticipated major surgery.

RETIREMENT

“I retired in 2012, and now, with the kids gone, we spend more time in New York visiting Ang’s family. I’ve always been a traveler, and I carry a camera with me. This is me in my Folbot kayak on Lake Champlain. Still on my bucket list is to paddle/circumnavigate its full length along both shores. One can never spend enough time lake kayaking.

“I’m also one of those guys you see re-enacting the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars in period uniform. Like many others, I hand sew as much of my own kit as possible. It’s our way of paying infinite respect to those who’ve fought our wars, and for us to understand the history of it more deeply. The attacking group photo is at Yorktown, the flag group at Saratoga.

DEKE HOUSE

At this point Joel and I had a lengthy, hands-on conversation about the evolution of rifles from flintlocks to M-16s. That led to some war stories from Vietnam, and how, when my mom first called the Deke house to tell them I’d been wounded, Joel took the call.

That further led to these photos from his window at 700 Elm showing Randy Morrison as the only Brother with the juice to go out on the roof to hang some heavy Christmas wreaths from the 3rd floor gutters. I’ve added a photo of Joel and his ’56 Chrysler (the Grapefruit –too big to be a lemon) in the parking lot for the hell of it. As well as the only modest photo (Ron Reese, center) of the winning sheet of sorority Sigma Delta Tau, from the infamous “ModBod painting contest.”

“My mom and dad met at OU. As a kid, I never said I was going to be a fireman or a cowboy, it was always, ‘I’m gonna be an OU graduate.’ Dad, being a Kappa Alpha, wasn’t happy I’d pledged Deke until I showed him its history, which changed his mind completely. In my last semester at OU, when my draft notice arrived around Finals week, my little brother Terry Miller convinced me to finish my final paper so I could say I’d graduated with a straight face. ‘You’re this close,’ he said. ‘Do the paper.’ Pays to have a Little Brother or two. I’m glad I listened. I’m now an OU graduate.”

LIFE SKILLS

Joel and I were like minded about two things: first, we’d learned the rudiments of what’s needed in life from our OU classwork, and second, the life skills we acquired from the Brotherhood were priceless: how to be a Treasurer, how to keep an ancient furnace working in the middle of winter, how to function in groups, how to take responsibility for ourselves, and, as he put it, nicely I think, considering his upcoming friendships with the ex-headhunters in Sarawak, “how to get along with people with whom one disagrees.”

Leave a comment if you wish, or contact us. Keep an eye out for September’s newsletter!

If you’d like information about making a tax-deductible donation to Randy’s Scholarship fund, here are some FAQs to help you.

Please get in touch with Rich Burns if you know of any Brothers who’ve passed away or aren’t receiving our Newsletter.

RIP, Randy

Kerothen, The ΡΛ Commo Crew