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Rho Lambda Newsletter

Greetings, Brothers.

I wonder what the women’s softball team had to say in the O Club to the men’s baseball team after the World Series. Yep. Nevertheless, good play, all around.

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Raise the flag on the 4th!

       TWO DEKES DUKE IT OUT (Final Episode)

Deke vs Deke – The Republican Primary of 1876 – Terry Miller ‘69
In an interesting bit of DEKE History, two Dekes squared off against each other in a Republican Primary. (Read Episode 1 here.
And Episode 2 here.) …A surge for Blaine occurred on the sixth ballot when he got 308 and Hayes was now in second place with 113. But the anti-Blaine push propelled Hayes to the top on the seventh and final ballot with 384 to Blaine’s 351. Bristow had 21 and none of the others got a single vote. Rutherford B. Hayes was the nominee with William Wheeler winning the Vice Presidential nomination by 366–89 over New Jersey Senator Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen who, coincidentally, was on the 1876 Election Commission which named Hayes as the winner of the General Election although Hayes lost the vote total by some 25,000 votes. He won the electoral vote 185 to 184 in one of the most contentious elections in U.S. History.               Terry Miller

Dekes LionFrom The ΔKE ΡΛ Literary Association
It’s hard to believe that we’re four months and counting from our 10th Annual Round Up Homecoming Weekend. It’s also the 50th Anniversary of my graduation from OU along with my DKE Sweetheart Karen. I urge all the ’72 graduates to attend any or all of the events at Homecoming Weekend to renew old ties and celebrate with us in Norman.
The Randy Morrison Scholarship Fund continues to grow toward our goal of $25,000 by 2025. We have donations and commitments of $10,000, so we are 40% to our goal. Thanks to those brothers who have donated/pledged to support the fund. I encourage those who can, to consider a tax-deductible donation through the OU Foundation.

Kerothen,                                                               Bob Tierno, Chairman of the Board

Brother of the Month – BYRON D. “BUD” PARKER

As I typed Bud’s name just now, I wondered how many times I’ve written it. As pledges, we all had to memorize the Founders’ names and woe betide any neophyte who forgot one, right? Bud and I laughed about it when I spoke to him last week, and I kept thinking, “After all these years, here I am, talking to Byron D. Parker. He’s a terrific guy, and we’re fraternity brothers.”

For all of us, fraternity life changed us. Bud put it with perfect understatement, “For me, it was quite an experience.”

I’m betting everyone who’s experienced the OU Deke brotherhood has a similar story. Thanks to Bud and the other founders, when we walked out of the Deke house, we were ready. We turned onto life’s highway and accelerated, eager to encounter that next part of us, thumb out, waiting. This newsletter is me, on behalf of all of us, thanking Bud for his role in that.

Bud’s route to OU is top-notch. It starts with him as a little tyke in Claremore, Oklahoma. That’s him (left) in 1931 at the San Antonio Zoo with his dad Charlie and his brother Bob. Bud’s in the middle. When I first saw this photo, I thought maybe the colorizer had made a mistake. With no hesitation, Bud laughed and told me, “My mother wanted a girl. Sometimes she dressed me in pink.” I remembered his Golden Gloves, smiled, and admired his candor.

In 1890, the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature declared pugilism “a crime against the public peace,” but most people ignored that. Bud attended Oklahoma Military Academy, “The West Point of the Southwest,” for two years of high school and two of junior college.

Bud said, “OMA, in Claremore, was a cavalry-centered school, complete with sabers and horses. Graduates could enter the Army’s Officer Candidate School after graduating from junior college. In 1947, I won my Golden Gloves there in high school.” By that time, OMA had a boxing reputation, with a trophy-winning team.

“When I graduated from OMA in ’51, I enlisted in the Air Force since I wanted to fly. The Korean War was over in ’53, so I took my 30 hours of airtime to OU, became a junior-year freshman, and joined the boxing team. I got my private flying license later. Our boxing team took the train to Houston, LSU, Ft. Sill; we fought all over.”

Somewhere along the way, Bud met some jolly good fellows, like Mike Sandlin, Morris Dunlap, and others. That’s him on the left, toasting the DKE charter and rampant lion with Ken Davis and Elbert Lesch. “The big thing I remember was the Omega Chi Texas chapter initiating us in ’54. We also won the Scholastic Improvement trophy two years in a row.” That’s Ken Davis with the cigar, appearing to brush up the award, with Bud in the middle and O.A. Thomas on the left. Bud was also a president of the chapter.

I imagine a housemother was required, so they hired Mrs. Earl Harris in ’53. Bud and I agreed she was a ferocious bridge player. “One time, when her attention was elsewhere,” he said, “one of the guys stacked the deck and dealt her 13 spades. She had quite a look.” I can see her face. Nevertheless, we gave her props for her talent for keeping a lid on the Deke house.

“That’s Jill and me in ’54, on our first date at the DKE Hayride. She was a Theta from Clovis. I graduated in ’55, she in ’56, and we married in New Mexico. We’ve lived in Oklahoma City ever since. I first worked for a brokerage firm, then went into business for myself in ’62. Our company’s name was ‘Parker, Bishop, and Welsh, Inc.’ We dealt in securities and insurance at first, specializing later in insurance. We built the firm until we eventually had 70 people.”

Bud’s voice softened as he described his family. “Our daughters, Patty and Suzy are both married. Patty’s daughter, Katy, is an OU grad and teaches school. Suzy’s daughter Lydia attends Purdue, and Sally will attend Drexel this fall.” Here, left to right, are Sally, Lydia, Mary Kathryn (Katy), Patty, and Suzy. Jill and Bud are below.

Patty gathered all these photos for me (Thank you!) I connected with her through Dennis Clowers: “An interesting story about how I found out Patty is Bud’s daughter. Suzi and I’ve known her and her husband for a while. There’s a group of us, 5 or 6 couples, who generally attend summertime outdoor concerts on Sunday evenings. “I was drinking a strong libation from a metal cup with OU Deke, Rho Lambda on it. Patty saw it and asked if I was a Deke at OU. I said I was; she told me her Dad was, too. I asked his name, and she said, ‘Bud Parker.’ I said, ‘you mean Byron D. Parker?’ Truly, a small world.”

I agree. For me, there’s this: Steve Owens won the Heisman in ’69, and a year later, the guy who carried my scrambler radio in ‘Nam was from Oklahoma, too. Any adroit jungle moves he saw got this comment: “Steve Owens would’ve done it like that.” His buddy was a guy from Tennessee, who always laughed and said something unprintable about Owens.

In 2019, OU celebrated Bud and Jill as long-time season ticket holders. The Jumbotron shows Bud’s favorite memory was the ’68 Orange Bowl, between OU and Tennesee. OU was ahead 26-24, and, with seven seconds to go, Tennessee’s kicker missed a field goal.

You can see in the closeup that Jill is having a blast, and Bud’s wearing the O Club jacket he earned in boxing. O Club membership is reserved for those who’ve lettered in an OU sport. In ‘69, Bud bought his jacket from Steve Owens.

Yesterday, Patty and I talked about these newsletters and how their aspiration is first to help unite the brotherhood and then to help inspire the re-establishment of the Rho Lambda chapter. We both recognized how fitting it is that Bud is assisting, by talking with me, in helping to resurrect the OU chapter he helped found.

I get a kick out of the connections I encounter each month and the memories they trigger. My life, and I’ll bet the reader’s, has been immensely improved by the decision of Bud and others to establish a Deke chapter at OU.

Ron Sorter 

Leave a comment if you wish, or contact us here. Keep an eye out for August’s Newsletter! 

RIP, Randy


The ΡΛ Commo Crew