Rho Lambda Newsletter
Would you like to be on our Board and help us shape our future activities? We have an opening! You can see the Brothers presently on the Board here. If you’d like to join us, contact George Otey at email@example.com or call me (Ron) at (970) 274-6107. Thanks!
The password we emailed to you opens any file. If you don’t have it, contact us.
FROM THE DKE RL Board:
ΡΛ Brother of the Month – TERRY MILLER
Presidents and Best Men
Brother Miller and I had a far-reaching conversation about our Deke house experiences. “I’d always intended to go to the University of Michigan,” he said. “They have a terrific Naval Architecture school there, and I wanted to major in Hull Design, but circumstances brought me to OU instead.
“I pledged at the Deke house because I knew Jim Mullen and Dave Johnson from our Sea Explorer days in Tulsa. I was initiated with Richard Legatski, Jim Park, and Vic Martin. I’ve been Richard’s best man. Twice.” That got us talking about presidents, too, and we both agreed on some prime ones. “Jim and Dave were both excellent, Dave Butler, too,” he said. “And Charlie Suggs.”
We laughed at that. Charlie was a first-class president, alright, but I mostly remember him as a non-conformist, brilliant brother. He majored in math or physics but also in Theater, which, to me, was perfect. Smart guy and a showman, to boot. Terry said, “Charlie always said he wasn’t so much a President as an Instigator.” Yep, that’s Charlie. And most good leaders, too.
Gentlemen, Scholars, and Jolly Good Fellows
During our time at OU, house mothers were the “responsible adults” that OU currently requires for present-day fraternity houses. Something to remember for our 2025 recolonization plan. In the ‘60s, RL Dekes, fresh from high school, may have struggled to become Scholars, and we had no problems being Jolly Good Fellows. However, from the day the house was founded at OU until she retired, the term “Gentleman” was an honorific only earned by paying attention to Mom Harris.
“Like most brothers,” Terry said, “I played a lot of bridge in Mom Harris’ rooms. Usually, it was me, Arnie Moore, Richard Legatski, and Mom Harris. Once, Richard said he had to study, but we needed a fourth, so Arnie and I picked him up in his chair and carried him into her room so we could play. Another time, I helped myself to one of the candies on the table and put the wrapper in my pocket. She said, ‘I compliment your manners, knowing to do that instead of putting it in the ashtray.’ It was a little thing, but I still remember that compliment.”
DESTROYERS and Intersections
“By the spring of ’68, I was in the Navy,” he said. “That’s me in boot camp, top row, far left. By March of ’68, I was in the Pacific aboard the destroyer USS Mackenzie. Our home port was Yokosuka, Japan, and we were doing fire missions along the coast of Vietnam. Our ship had crew-mounted 5″ guns, missiles, torpedo tubes, and depth-charge projectors. We even worked with the New Jersey for a while.”
* I told Terry we knew about the gigantic USS New Jersey cruising our piece of Vietnam coastline in ‘70, but we lowly infantry lieutenants weren’t allowed to call fire missions from it. The battleship had 16″ guns firing shells the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle. Wow.
I also mentioned my big R&R plans for a week in Hong Kong, which fell through. Terry said, “I was in Hong Kong for R&R four times.” (Ouch). “They wouldn’t allow a Navy ship to do any retrofitting or maintenance there, but these Chinese boats, full of grandmas with their grandkids, would come out, and in return for our empty brass shell casings, they’d clean the entire ship, and we didn’t have to lift a finger. Hong Kong was a great liberty port.”
Sadly, the USS MacKensie is no more. They used her as a target for Navy gun practice in ’76, and now she lies at the bottom. According to Terry, “They gave a tiny piece of the hull cutwater to the last captain. You can still dive on the ship if you want. (pause) She lies at 12,000 feet, so getting yourself back to the surface is a challenge.
Life in Texas
“At the end of my Navy tour,” Terry said, “I returned to OU. I attended Randy Morrison’s funeral with Joel Ketonen and Don Burand. I’d visited Randy at the Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, when he was in training there. He passed away at the Yokusaka Naval hospital, in my Japan homeport.
I soon moved to Texas, getting a degree in philosophy from the University of Houston. I married Camella in ’73, and we have a wonderful family.
“In this picture, my daughter Stephanie is on the left with her daughter Brielle and husband Ashok, and on the right is my daughter Jennifer, her husband Steve, and their son Xavier. Both families live in New York City. Jennifer is a bilingual Health Care Data Analyst who also writes children’s books, and Stephanie works for a company that coordinates real-time disaster notifications for school systems. We miss them all, but they’re living the life in New York.
“In ’75 I got a Radiotelephone license and was a technician at a local microwave company in Austin when it was bought out by Western Union, which then had a coast-to-coast microwave system. They had me take over their Houston office, so I had 5 cities, 6 offices, and most of Texas. I spent most of my 14 years with them in management. Then I became a consultant and project manager, building cell phone towers for Verizon.”
I asked Terry about this picture of his house, and he pointed out the OU flag by the front door and reminded me that he lives in Texas. Ah, yes. Bob Tierno also lives in Texas, and his golf cart is plastered with OU flags. When I lived in Colorado, I noticed a bumper sticker on the car of our new part-time neighbors: “Proud UT mom!!” Of course, every year, on that special Saturday, I hung the Goal Post in a window where they had to look at it. I’m not sure if it was the snow or the Goal Post, but they were always gone before the snow fell. OU forever.
Tin Can Sailors, Destroyers Forever
If you’re a destroyer veteran or have any naval interest, you’re probably already a member, but if not, check this out: https://www.destroyers.org. In 2002, Terry became the Executive Director of Tin Can Sailors, an organization 20,000 strong, a brotherhood of destroyer men who’ve sailed the bounding main. Terry ran the organization, doing research, writing quarterly newsletters, arranging reunions, etc., for 20 years. He’s now retired with the title: President. Check out the stained-glass anchor behind him.
I’m going to venture to say that being a Deke has shown us all the value and laughs of being in a brotherhood, and Terry, for one, has searched that out his entire life. Being actively involved in a brotherhood is also why our RLLA group exists, so if you have some time, please think about becoming an active member of it.
* USS New Jersey photo thanks to Naval History and Heritage Command: https://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/us-navy-ships/battleships/new-jersey-bb-62/DN-SC-8406362.html
Leave a comment if you wish, or contact us here. Keep an eye out for March’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.
The ΡΛ Commo Crew