Rho Lambda Newsletter
The 2022 Reunion and Tailgate were a blast, and you can see the photos here. After years of giving the award to others, Fred Streb was finally given the Rock Solid Award, too. I’ve been conflicted about the Goal Post Award having my name on it, and I happily learned it had been removed, then stunned when Dennis Clowers awarded it to me. Two teams of us played golf on Friday, a scramble, wherein our team, three down, went all in on the 18th hole. Tom Vizard sank an unbelievable putt to brand our team as a bunch of losers. Golf’s now a regular feature for future Reunions.
At the Reunion party, Fred introduced a “Deke Elite” forum where six Brothers turned a shaving event into a spastic mess. And yes, it was caught on video; you can see that, too. The Deke contact list is current, so see if your information is correct and find someone to call and catch up on their life. The password we emailed to you opens any file. If you don’t have it, contact us.
From The ΔKE ΡΛ Literary Association
Rho Lambda Brother of the Month – Dave Butler
I’ll bet you have a picture like this. A photo your family saved for you. It may appear to be a picture of Dave and his dog, but it’s actually a memoir of his parents’ delight every time they saw it. As a favor to Dave, since he’s wondering with his dog if their lives will require helmets, I’m going to put this photo on the internet forever.
“When I graduated from high school,” Dave said, “I was a small-town kid from Enid, naïve and out of touch. OU broadened my horizons immediately. I had to find somewhere to do my own laundry, manage a checking account, and learn a myriad of other life skills. Later, at the Deke House, it was more of the same. There we were, a bunch of teenagers responsible for everything: a mortgage, managing a household, maintaining the building, hiring kitchen staff, everything. It was great training for life.
“I liked the fact that quite a few of our Deke brothers were from out-of-state, and they brought different philosophies to the house. For me, learning how to disagree with a person while being able to maintain fellowship and like them was an eye-opening experience. I wonder sometimes if it wouldn’t be a great idea for people of differing beliefs to be locked in a building together for a while.”
“After getting my law degree, I left OU for Enid, and I’ve remained in contact with Stan Germond and Bill Iseminger over the years. Whenever Cyndy and I go to New York, we usually see Stan and Marilyn.”
I’ve included this daguerreotype of Dave’s family because, apparently, sometime in the 1880s, Dave married Cyndy, a nice lady from Texas, and they had a son, Eric. It appears Mom has an umbrella, Dad has a cane, while Eric has a pistol. I can’t imagine what kind of parenting that required.
Whatever it was, it must have worked because Eric is now an analyst for EarthDaily, a company that decodes satellite images to resolve minute, daily changes down to the single pixel range. Their work is helping unravel more precisely, for example, the crop cover of Tunisian wheat and the size and movement of grain-carrying ships to North Africa from Ukraine, thus predicting the potential size of Tunisia’s future shortage of bread.
Apparently, Eric can ski, too, but not as well as Dave. Here they are in Aspen, Dave brushing aside any need for ski poles. The guy’s got quite the skillset. The Butler family also sent me photos of “Our boon companions and hiking buddies; the late Tess and the late Annie.”
We share an admiration for these dogs. I was once cruising a twisty highway through an autumn Colorado aspen forest at sunrise when a border collie ran up onto the center of the road and stopped, barking at me until I stopped.
Behind him, a river of sheep appeared, flowing up onto the road and down into the gulch beyond. The collie, sure that I’d stopped, then raced into the gulch as more sheep, more collies, and the sheepherder, on horseback, flowed over the road. After several minutes, they were gone, and I was on my way. All that was done by a few border collies. They resemble good country lawyers in many respects.
Speaking of which, I asked Dave about his law career, and he said, “At first, no one would hire me, but I finally got a job in Enid, lawyering for whoever walked in. They were from all walks of life – I did adoptions, divorces and represented rapists and murderers. They were every element of humanity, and there were some nasty people who deserved to be locked up. But I represented them to the best of my ability.
“I did have one shining moment,” he said. “I was paying another attorney in hours worked in return for an office when he got a case for an oilman who’d made a spill into a river tributary. We worked it together, winning in the 10th Circuit. It wasn’t too long before we were climbing the marble steps into the Supreme Court, along with our families.
“I’d been practicing law for only 3-4 years, and there I was with the Solicitor General, him in tails, seeing the Justices appear all at once from nine different openings in a curtain and sit down behind a raised bench. It was majestic and intimidating.
“I wrote the briefing for the Justices, and Steve argued our case. We’d been told to watch the red light, which signifies you’re out of time to make your case. The lawyer speaks from a lectern, which, they say, has curled edges because lawyers over the years have gouged out grooves with their fingernails. We lost, but what an experience that was.”
Now retired to a home on five acres in Santa Fe, he and Cyndy are knee-deep in the world of art and Indian culture, with a great view from their kitchen window and some great skiing at Santa Fe’s Ski Basin. “It’s refreshing. We appreciate the fact that so many different cultures can get along.” Dave tells me, “Native-American syntax and vocabulary are just as complex as ours – the only difference is the language. They have a less scientific vocabulary; otherwise, it’s the same.”
We ended our conversation reminiscing about that one semester we were asked to return to the Deke house, he as Prez, I as Treasurer and Kitchen Manager, to assist in righting the house’s financial keel. “I know we went through gunny sacks of black-eyed peas and literally carloads of frozen shrimp from Brother John Smith’s OKC warehouse, freezing the Brothers who drove the car back to Norman,” said Dave. Some Brothers held records for how many shrimp they could consume at one meal, but we all ended that semester just two weeks shy of being in the black.
I gotta say something about Dave’s humor: there’s a bar in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where they say a barkeep snuck a bottle of vermouth onto the first atomic bomb tested there. Nowadays, they take a martini glass, stick it out the window for a few seconds, catch a few atoms of vermouth fallout, then fill it with icy gin. That’s Dave’s humor. Dry. Very, very dry. He’s said things I remembered days later, slapped my forehead, and laughed my ass off.
And there’s this: I first heard Dave narrate a certain Deke poem over a blazing country bonfire, and it inspired me to do the same. I’m proud to know the guy.