Rho Lambda Newsletter
Our October 14-15, 2022 Reunion is almost here! If you’d like to play golf on Friday, the 14th, contact Dennis Clowers. The OU Museum of Art has a terrific collection of French Impressionist Art donated by the Max Weitzenhoffer family. The OKC Museum of Art has a beautiful Dale Chihuly glass exhibit, too.
Want to help the Brotherhood fund the Reunion, or the Tailgate? Do that here. (Remember, you’ll pay your own tab at the Interurban.) The Bereavement Fund, and our other Donation portals can be found here.
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From The ΔKE ΡΛ Literary Association
The Rho Lambda Roundup is only a couple of weeks away, and we look forward to joining our brothers in telling tall tales of years past. 50 years since graduation and it seems like yesterday. The Randy Morrison Memorial Scholarship Fund continues to grow towards our goal of $25,000 by 2025. In fact, we are 40% of the goal and thanks to all who have pledged or donated to date. This is a lasting legacy and a tribute to a fallen brother. I have invited Karen Renfroe from the OU Foundation to attend our event at the Interurban Restaurant in Norman on Friday evening.
I am also honored to replace Brother George Otey on the DKE National Judiciary Committee. George has been a huge contributor to DKE Headquarters and I appreciate his service to our alumni association as well.
Sooner football started off like gangbusters and then we were manhandled by Kansas State. By the time you receive this newsletter, we will have played TCU and we’ll have Kansas for homecoming. Boomer Sooner !
Kerothen, Bob Tierno, Chairman of the Board
ΡΛ Brother of the Month – JIM GRIFFIN
Can we just skip to the part where we travel the world? – Unknown
It seems like I’ve known Jim and Karen forever. In college, Jim and I were members of Scabbard and Blade, and my father-in-law is the only other member I’ve ever met. In the summer of ’67, we, with Mark Hinshaw driving his Chevy Nova convert, spent a road trip touring Colorado and four-wheeling crazy mountains in my dad’s junker Jeep.
In ‘68, Karen was the top sales producer for an encyclopedia company. She taught me how to sell encyclopedias door-to-door in Texas. In summer. In the only jacket (wool) I had. “Just smile,” she said, “stick out your hand, and say, ‘Hi, my name’s Ron Sorter.’” I can’t tell you how much that simple move became a trait of my professional life. Thank you, Karen.
Since I couldn’t find any dreadful sweetheart photos of Jim and Karen in high school, let’s start with this terrific 1970 marriage photo. The happy couple is off to an exciting life in the Army, with assistance from (l to r) Vic Martin (best man), Dave Butler, and Wayne Hughes. It’s great to see a photo of Vic, isn’t it?
Jim said he’d do his best to sift through countless photos to get me the best thousand. I can only imagine the photos they’ve taken. And the passports they’ve gone through.
“In ’72,” Jim said, “we drove to Berlin and crossed via Checkpoint Charlie through the Berlin Wall. I was in uniform, and dependents couldn’t ride through in the same car. So Karen walked through and went a couple of blocks into East Berlin. After I drove through, I picked her up, and we did our thing. We drove back to the place near the Wall Checkpoint, and she got out to walk through. I drove through the Wall and waited for her to come through. I waited. And waited…
“It was cold. And dark. She was a woman in East Berlin. Alone. Finally, finally, she walked through the gate. She got in the car and said, ‘The East Berlin guards asked me if I had any East German currency, saying I couldn’t go through if I did. I had some (as a souvenir). They said I’d have to walk back to where some local bars were and spend it, then return. I told them I really didn’t want to do that. I asked if there was some other way. It took a while, but they finally pointed to a box labeled “East Germany Red Cross.” I donated my German marks to the Red Cross, I hope. Anyway, they let me through.’” It sounds like a 50’s spy movie, doesn’t it?
“In this picture we’re in Berlin on New Year’s Eve in ‘89,” said Jim, “with hundreds of thousands of our closest friends. The Brandenburg Gate is to our left. I was stationed in Europe (3rd tour) at the time, and Karen and I watched the crowd using pickaxes on the concrete Wall while three East German guards followed it all from the top. It was fireworks and total euphoria. Gorbachev’s Soviet Union was coming apart.
“A year later, our daughter, Nancy, joined us in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral on a cold day in Moscow, a year before the U.S.S.R. broke up.” The Cold War ended when Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and other countries voted to become democracies.
“In 1990, I was serving as the Executive Officer (XO) on the staff of NATO’s European ‘Pentagon.’ My 15 minutes of fame arrived when I was asked to escort the Supreme Allied Commander to a ceremony. Being with a four-star was like being with Moses at the parting of the Red Sea. Soldiers braced against the wall as we walked past, avidly saluting all the stars on his shoulders. I was a Lt. Colonel. I don’t think anyone even saw me.
“After 23 years in the Army, I retired in ’94. We liked living in Dallas, with an airport that has the most nonstops in America. After retirement, I interviewed with the chief of ATT’s wireless world; he needed somebody comfortable with global travel to help him coordinate wireless possibilities in France and S. Korea. I told him I’d been stationed in Korea and had visited France often, so he hired me as Director-International Operations. In the next few months I found myself flying to Paris several times to help with this project. (One fond memory is standing on the rooftops of Paris checking out cell antenna – with the Eiffel Tower looming in the background.)
“I retired from AT&T after 17 years, as cell phones evolved from bricks into handhelds, while Karen and I flew all over the world. The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, was incredible. In Nepal, we flew past Mt. Everest on Buddha Air out of Kathmandu. The pilot let me into the cockpit to see it. Poor Karen had somehow ingested some bad water showering and barely saw the mountain…before collapsing in her seat.
“A few years later, we went to China. We’d seen the Wall built to keep East Germans in. This one was made to keep the Mongols and others out. The Great Wall has to be seen to be believed.”
Jim assured me, “I know this photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy looks like it’s been Photoshopped, but it hasn’t.” I have to say, I believe you, Jim. You’re totally holding it up. Great photo.
Karen’s the photographer for some of these photos, and this one of their granddaughters is my favorite. Left to right, Evie, who’s 8, Jim, and the twins Hazel and Abby, both 10. Faith and family have been Jim and Karen’s touchstones their entire lives. The love just flows out of this picture, doesn’t it?
Jim and I talked and laughed about our time in the Deke house. He’s still one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. “You know,” he said, “looking back at our time in the house, everybody had idiosyncrasies of some kind. The world is like that, too, and there we learned how to embrace that. How sad it would be if we hadn’t lived there.”
God, Country, Family, Travel. Jim and Karen have lovingly devoted their lives to those four words. I’m proud to know them.
Leave a comment if you wish, or contact us here. Keep an eye out for November’s Newsletter, and we hope to see you at the Reunion! We’ll have all its photos here ASAP after October 15th.
Can you help us fund our activities? $50 a year is less than $5/month, and it would help our chapter immensely. Here’s our Donate Page. Thank You!
Do you have any information about Robert Rudd of Calgary? Please contact Rich Burns if you know of any Brothers who’ve passed away, or who aren’t receiving our Newsletter.
The ΡΛ Commo Crew
Great article and photos
Jim, you can be proud of what you have accomplished in life and the places you have seen around the world- I am envious! I will have to miss the reunion this year but hope to see you again in the future.
Thanks Bill. I have been truly blessed. It was really good to talk with you a couple of years ago at the reunion. Hopefully, I will see you again at future events.