Rho Lambda Newsletter
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From The ΔKE ΡΛ Literary Association
Our message is to get connected. The last two years of COVID, lockdowns, etc have reinforced my view that we, as brothers, need to keep connecting with each other by phone, text, email, or Zoom.
Everybody’s mental health has been affected, so reach out to a brother today and, as you can see in this month’s great interview with Gordon Bullivant, the connection can be terrific.
Be sure to read our February newsletter, too, for a recap of our January, quarterly meeting.
Kerothen, Bob Tierno, Chairman of the Board
ΡΛ Brother of the Month – GORDON BULLIVANT
These days, I’m often cold-calling brothers I last spoke to in the Deke house. “See you later,” I’d said then, and today I’m listening to the same voice on the phone agree it seems like yesterday. I started by asking Gordon how he ended up at OU.
“I was lucky,” he said, “I was selected as a Canadian Exchange Student and I had my choice of three schools. OU was the furthest from Calgary, so I packed a couple of trunks full of clothes, dragged them onto a bus, and watched the country change as I headed south.
“In Norman, I dragged the trunks down south of campus to a metal, half-cylinder dormitory, and slept.” Not long after that, I met Gordon at the Deke house, as pledges trying to discover what made Housemother Harris tick.
We’ve probably all got Kappa Delta Party Pics, right? That’s Gordon above, at their Luau. He graduated with a BA in Child Psychology in ‘67, returned to Calgary, and in a few years, he was the Education Director/Psychologist at Alberta Children’s Hospital. He married, but he and his wife parted ways when his son, Spencer, turned 4. He raised Spencer and a few lucky foster children, too.
Somewhere around ‘83, he and some friends, convinced that Calgary kids with learning disabilities were being shortchanged in public schools, started their own school in a rented building. You know how they say, ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity?’ Gordon had a stroke of luck.
“We concluded we’d need our own school, so we started raising money and ended up with $1,000,000 in the first year! I got another anonymous phone call from a potential donor who asked, ‘What makes you different?’
“I told him I’d get back to him, and he said, ‘No, tell me now.’ I thought for a moment, then said, ‘All our parents, all our students, and all our teachers have the same expectations.’ Then he said if we could raise $1,500,000, he’d match it, and we did.”
“We let the kids design the school. They wanted lots of glass and everything painted white, and we did that, too. We built a place where they would feel comfortable.
“We’ve raised $50,000,000 in the last 40 years.”
My jaw’s on the floor.
“Throughout my child’s seven years at Foothills Academy, you not only served as a catalyst for academic achievement but also awakened my son’s hidden gifts and talents.”
~A Grateful Parent
Gordon now carries the knightly title of Executive Director Emeritus, Foothills Academy Society. His Foothills Academy is recognized around the world. It, and he, have won prestigious awards.
I’m most impressed with this: everything I find on the internet, over decades, from students, parents, and teachers alike, is an overwhelming gratefulness that such a place exists. I think its culture, that deeper understanding of a child’s psychology, is Gordon’s gift not only to Calgary, but to the world.
Sophia will benefit from Gordon’s deeper understanding, too. His son Spencer, a standout student with a PhD, married Isabel, his childhood sweetheart. She was a member of the CSIS (Canada’s CIA) and she, Sophia, and Spencer were preparing to join the staff at the Canadian Embassy in London when COVID arrived.
But cancer arrived, too. After a long and painful struggle, Sophia’s mom passed away last November. She and Gordon spend three days together every week now. I’m convinced, with a loving father and grandfather, Sophia is going to turn out swell. She certainly had a happy Christmas with her Calgary family.
“Look, Grandpa, Santa shops at Amazon, too!”
“When children laugh, they feel relaxed. Then they bond.” – Gordon Bullivant