Rho Lambda Newsletter
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FROM THE DKE RLLA:
We roll into 2023 with great hopes for our future. In 2022, our board has successfully addressed three key areas:
We’ve reestablished Connections among our Brotherhood, and further work remains to be done in 2023.
We’ve enhanced certain platforms to increase Engagement by redesigning this website and launching a monthly newsletter written by Ron Sorter, with updates by Rich Burns by email.
As we enter the final quarter of this game of life, we’ve addressed our aging and loss by remembering the brothers who are now members of the Mystic Circle, by establishing an ongoing Bereavement Policy for recognizing them and their loved ones.
We’ve created a lasting Legacy by establishing a scholarship in the name of Brother Randy Morrison through the OU Foundation. Our goal of $25,000 by 2025 is clearly achievable since we’re already 40% to this target. If you haven’t done so already, please consider investing in this tax-deductible legacy in 2023.
We hope to return to the OU campus in two years, reestablishing the Rho Lambda chapter. Stay Tuned!
Kerothen, Bob Tierno, Chairman
ΡΛ Brother of the Month – WAYNE HUGHES
I dialed Wayne’s number in Florida, remembering a 1970 call when I’d awakened him very early with loud congratulations on his marriage day to Connie, his first wife. When he answered today, a half-century later, it didn’t take us long to be cracking up at the effect a beer-dispensing Coke machine in the basement of the Deke house had on two freshmen.
“But I’ve realized something over the years,” he said. “I’d grown up on Long Island, NY, pretty much majored in athletics and got poor grades in high school. When Vic Martin, who lived in the same dorm as me, introduced me to the Deke house, I knew immediately it was where I needed to be. It would be a perfect structure of friends.”
We both agreed that Dave Johnson, the house president, was a great example of that. “Dave convinced me that stealing stop signs would be damaging for both me and the house,” Wayne said. I told him about a similar conversation Dave had had with me about a couple of concrete rampant lions. Thus, are Deke pledges reformed, I’m happy to say.
Hughes and I were often table mates in the house, so we have lots of memories of the dining room. We admitted that Mom Harris and her ringing bell were the only things that stood between a genteel group of dining gentlemen and our gang of feasting ruffians, who stuck peas to the ceiling at dinner time. But she was always avenged by Brother Reed’s commanding explanation to initiates of the finer points of hand-waxing dining room floors in perfect V-8 rhythm.
“The Deke house and the Army definitely taught me about life,” he said. “After I graduated, I was an instructor at the Corps of Engineers Assault Bridge School at Fort Belvoir, and then, when my stint was up, I returned to private life. Connie and I were married for five years before we divorced. We remained friends, but life was hard on me, I admit. I started a small business, and it collapsed. I remember sitting in my bedroom, morose, realizing how everything had somehow combined to sink me low.
“But I knew I had the ability and education to succeed. Finally, I said, ‘Never again,’ and that was it. In Reston, VA, a guy gave me $5,000 to design his company’s headquarters. Then I won a few bids from the Army and the Navy to do some design work. I hired people to help me with that, and eventually, we were a small Virginia firm doing pretty well.
“We’d done some work for the University of Virginia and a couple of others, then one day, I saw an ad requesting a proposal for a building at the University of Houston. Our design was competing with four others from Texas, and I’m sure those firms didn’t expect some pantywaists from Virginia to be a threat, but our interview blew the approval committee away. We soon found ourselves designing an $80,000,000 building. The only thing I forgot to mention at the interview was that I was an OU grad.”
I told Wayne I’d heard somewhere about how it’s extremely rare for Texans to talk big but that they often think big. I wondered if that ever prompted him to do the same. “It did, actually,” he replied. “On another Texas university bid, the principal said to me, ‘Mr. Hughes, your design includes a 50-meter pool and a separate diving pool. What if we combined them?’ I told him they were separate because the water needed to be at different temperatures and a few other reasons but that we’d investigate it. We found a way, and soon they had the biggest indoor university pool in America. Another time, we were asked to design the only building in America with a quarter-mile track under one roof.
“We designed several more buildings for Texas universities, and our work with large buildings prepared us to win a $100 million job in Illinois. That was really big work for us.” That impressed me. Wayne went from being in the dumps in a little bedroom in Virginia to founding an architecture firm of 25 architects doing terrific work in 21 states. “We do lots of fire stations and police facilities. Prior to bidding, our specialty group sleeps there, responds with them at night, and goes on patrols; they do everything to understand the details.”
If you haven’t yet, spend some time looking at his firm’s designs; they’re astounding. Look here: Sports / Recreation / Well-Being – Hughes Group Architects (hgaarch.com)
I asked Wayne if he was still in harness, and he said, “No, when I was 70, I retired to Florida. I miss the grandkids, who’re still up in Virginia. After Connie and I divorced, I was single for 12 years, then I met Linda, and we’ve been married 38 blissful years. Our daughter Cameron has three boys. Landon’s 15, Everette’s five, and Asher’s three.” Wayne and Linda are in the b&w photo, with Cameron and Everette. Young Master Asher is the little guy in the colorful suit.
On the right are Wayne and Linda at the beach, where, according to him, they were a little tipsy. I talked to him just before Hurricane Ian hit near them last September, and they both sounded pretty happy then, too. Let’s hear it for happy retirements.
We talked about Vic Martin a lot. I told him my take on Vic was that he was that one guy everybody liked. He was smart, always laughing about something, and made everybody else laugh with him. “Yeah,” said Wayne. “He was a great guy, for sure. He and I double-dated a lot of sorority girls. Once he met Nancy, though, he knew she was the one. In fact, I talked to her yesterday. We’ve all been lifelong friends.
“Vic and I both had our own practices for 40 years, and we worked together a lot. I’d have him red pencil my plans and do the same for him, just like at OU. Vic also had a side specialty in addition to his architecture practice. He did roof analyses for giant buildings, like Boeing’s aircraft hangers and many others, to determine their “propensity for leakage.” I’d have his people look at my roof design plans. I miss him, and I’ll bet everybody who knew him does, too.
“I taught architecture to sixth graders for many years, and that was fun. I learned how to put my passion for architecture and design into terms they could understand.
“I’d tell them that, in the larger context, design proposals come down to three words,” he said, “and their order is everything: First is Cost, then Energy, and only then comes the Design.
“Cost is for the bean counters, sure, but it‘s a fact that the present-day Cost to create the building is of primary importance. Energy is related to Cost, but it refers to the future fees of operation, upkeep, and maintenance for the building after it’s inhabited.
“Finally, there’s the Design. When the Design of the building flows beautifully out of the constraints of the first two factors, it demonstrates the ingenuity of the architectural team. I always had my team return 360 days after the building opened to talk to everyone, including the janitors.
“It’s an important point. A building may be 250,000 square feet with a gym, pool, and track, but the details are at a granular scale. One time, I was wandering the basement, saw a janitor with a mop, introduced myself, and asked him what he thought of the building. He loved it all except for the corner tiles on the basement floor. ‘They catch on my mop,’ he said. ‘Why do you use those?’ We don’t, not anymore.
“I told my new architects and my 6th-grade classes about those tiles. I said, ‘It’s important to come to grips with your strengths in design, but remember, your weaknesses are in the details.’”
I see some genius in all this: Wayne’s condensed his art into three easy concepts for clients, sixth graders (and me) to grasp. That power of simplicity won his architecture firm $100 Million design fees.
I know life’s highway is a tangle of straightaways and knots. It’s terrific to see a college pal who’s driven that road well, doing something he loves while surrounded by a loving family. And the cherry on top? The guy’s still a jolly good fellow. Let’s hear it for Brother Hughes!