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Rho Lambda & Oklahoma Dekes Newsletter

2023 Reunion

The 2023 Friday Night Reunion/Saturday Morning Tailgate is scheduled for October 20-21. See here for details and 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.

2025 OU Associate Chapter

Those of you in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, California, and other “OU-Donor states” will have gotten an email earlier this month from DKE International about their (and our) 2025 reactivation plans for an OU DKE Associate Chapter. Please reply to that email to support us!

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

FROM THE DKE Rho Lambda Literary Association Board:

On Memorial Day Weekend, we’re thankful for the sacrifices made by our veterans who rest in peace in cemeteries around the world. My father, Rocky Tierno, a Pearl Harbor Survivor, West Point ’45 graduate with a Korean War Bronze Star and Purple Heart, rests where it all started at West Point Military Academy with Mom T. Karen’s dad Dale Jones served in WWII as a SeaBee. As Rho Lambda Dekes, we’ll never forget Randy Morrison, who gave his all in Vietnam. His story, as told by Brother Ron Sorter, is a testament to Randy’s service to our country. We’ve created a scholarship in his honor through the OU Foundation.   Kerothen, Bob Tierno, Chairman

ΡΛ Brother of the Month – BOB TIERNO

GROWING UP

“I was the first of three kids,” said Bob. “Our family was Italian and vocal. Pop was career Army, a colonel with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with a V for valor. Mom ran the house like a general, but they always had our backs; me, my sister Susan, and my brother Skip, a fellow West Pointer.

“Like most Army brats, my family lived all over: Massachusetts, Georgia, Germany, California, Norman, Kansas, New Mexico, Virginia, Bolivia…

 OU

“In ’67, I graduated high school in Virginia. You could say I hadn’t excelled in math, but OU must have pitied me since they’re the only school that accepted me. After a summer as a lifeguard swimming instructor, I hopped on a plane to Norman as my family moved to Bolivia.

“Pop made it clear he’d pay for the first two years, with the second two on me. I made a poor showing out of the gate, so I asked a chemistry prof my dad knew to tutor me. I aced the chem final, letting me skip math altogether. And to have the grades to pledge Deke the following semester. 

“Having traveled all over, the Deke house was my terra firma, where I first formed long-term friendships. I wouldn’t have graduated without it. I met Karen in ’68 on a blind date, and that was it; we became inseparable. Our 51st anniversary is this year.

THE STUDENT STORE

“Starting the Student Store was the most significant event of my college life. I got on the OU Student Association board just after Kent State. Students demanded we do something about stores ripping them off for pencils, notebooks, Cokes, and smokes. I volunteered. I studied how Berkeley did it, then roomy Bill Nation and I figured out how to fund it. 

“With our $10,000 loan from the OUSA as collateral, we told suppliers they should give us inventory up front since we had three 12-story buildings full of students as a captive market. They jumped at that. Bill, Karleen, Karen, and I picked goods from their catalogs to fill the walls of shelves Brother Streb made. We had food, drinks, canned goods, cigarettes, fans; you name it. 

“We repaid the OUSA loan and ended the first year having made $100,000! I appointed Bill the revenue/financial guy. We counted huge stacks of cash each night on the floor of our fraternity room. Starting that store while going to school full-time fueled my later career. Bill and I have remained close ever since, and he feels the same.”

RON’S TRIBUTE FOR ROCKY’S GIFT TO HIS MOM

In ’70, as an infantry company commander in ‘Nam, a booby trap sent me to the rear, minus a leg. The Army notified my mom but with few details. She called the Deke house to let them know. Joel Ketonen answered the phone and soon informed Bob, who called his dad. Rocky knew a guy at the Pentagon who kept Rocky apprised of where I was, how I was, and all the rest. Rocky told Bob, and Bob called Mom every day until I landed in the States. 

Wayne Hughes and I both got draft notices in ’70, so we brothers signed up for Army ROTC’s two-year program. We went to Ft. Benning for six weeks in the summer of ’70 and Ft. Sill for six weeks in ’71. When I graduated in ‘72, Pop flew in from Bolivia to pin on my bars with Karen, but after three months of active-duty training, the draft was abolished, we were released into the Army Reserves, and I started looking for a job in Virginia.

KAREN AND I

“While selling jeans and paint and looking for a teaching job for special kids, I flew Karen to Virginia, proposed, she said yes, and then flew back to OU. When she graduated, we eloped. She got an interior design job in Georgetown, and we started looking for something bigger and better. 

“I got a line on a great position with Denver’s Bureau of Prisons (BP). We packed our VW and headed west, staying with Ron until we found our own place. Karen was soon the top salesperson at a local Toyota dealership with a new demo car. 

“In ’75, I got a promotion to Durham, N.C. as a systems manager, where Karen bought us matching furniture with a bonus she got as (again) top salesperson at a local Mercedes Benz dealership.

Then I was promoted to San Diego in ‘76, where Ron now lived. Here’s us in Mexico. Karen and I learned how to sail in San Diego Bay. I was soon offered the legal assistant job at a BP regional office near San Francisco, where I got an MBA from Pepperdine. Glaser Brothers, a specialty food supplier, hired Karen. We spent every weekend in Napa or San Francisco. We made a deep web of friends there: our best friends asked me to be their daughter’s godfather, and it’s been great to be part of her life and see what a wonderful person, wife, and mother she’s grown to be. 

INTEL

“My next move on the Warden track would be back to D.C., and we decided that was out. I called a fellow Pepperdine student. She arranged an interview with her boss at Intel, who hired me in their planning/manufacturing department. Life changed. We bought a house with a pool in Roseville, CA.

“I traveled a lot. I spent almost every week in Detroit—untold trips to Japan, Texas, and Colorado. Finally, we beat out Toshiba and Motorola, convincing Ford to buy Intel chips. Karen and I worked constantly. We began to speak past each other. She was offered a position as a regional sales manager in Dallas. We agreed we needed to do that. 

 “I started my sales career in Texas as a field sales engineer. We both had company cars, and soon Karen was flying all over the region. At Intel, l was helping launch the conversion of PCs and development systems throughout the U.S. Army—lots of traveling and drinking. Too much. Karen and I, inseparable, decided we had to give it a rest. She moved to Northern California, and I to Cleveland.

WE REUNITE

“Time passed. We had time to remember what brought us together and what had torn us apart. In counseling, we practiced discussing emotional issues from our hearts and financial problems with our heads. We no longer mix them. I relearned that our glue was integrity. We decided to get married again.

“This time, we had a big church wedding, the parents finally got to meet each other, and we bought a sailboat to cruise Lake Erie! I was also handling Intel’s Intel Inside program for the east coast. Then in ’93, we left Ohio for San Francisco to manage Intel’s U.S. distribution of Semiconductors. In ’95, we bought a Bed and Breakfast in Sutter Creek, California, in the Sierras. Karen ran that, with me coming up every weekend. 

 OUR B&B

“I finally retired from Intel in ’99. Our B&B earned us the coveted AAA Four Diamond award four years running. We sold the place in 2008, and for anyone who wants to get into the B&B business, my advice is: don’t. I was a certified business coach and strategic advisor for the next seven years, and Karen ran a home staging business. 

 “In 2012, Pop died, and Mom soon after. We buried them at West Point. 

TEXAS

“The cost of living in California became ridiculous, so we sold our home and moved to Denton, Texas, where I drive a splashy OU golf cart. In 2018 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. On my da Vinci robotic surgery day, Karen was seriously injured, falling down the hospital staircase. After three surgeries and much PT, she’s almost back to 90%. So far, I’m cancer free.  

“We’re both caregivers now. And still inseparable, with the 50-year OU medals to prove it. I’ve written a book about my prostate journey, I’m a moderator for ProstateCancer.net on Facebook, and I’m thankful to be working so closely now with my fellow Dekes. Here’s me with Ron and a golf scorecard. 

Our gypsy life on interstates and dirt roads had its surprises, but we constantly evolved. The true upside is everyone we’ve met, of every possible variety. Maintaining and growing those friendships has deepened us. Our countless friends, those fascinating people, have proved to us that the road we took was our own, and we indeed traveled the hell out of it. Had I not been a Deke, I wouldn’t have known how to make those deep friendships. Our Reunions are now stitching us back together, and, who knows, in 2025, some other gypsies may find their roots as Dekes at OU. Their bonds will be iron.”    

“In life, it’s not where you go – it’s who you travel with.”  –  Charles M. Schulz                                                                                 Ron Sorter.

Our deep regrets at Jerry Buxton’s passing. His family has decided against a funeral, but we’ll send them a remembrance on behalf of Rho Lambda. Leave a comment if you wish, or contact us. Keep an eye out for July’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