My brother Don died yesterday.
No, we didn’t share the same DNA. But we were alike in so many ways. And I hope he knows that I — and so many others — loved him dearly.
Donald W. Grier became a member of Delta Sigma Phi one year after I did. He was initiated in 1984, and he made an impact on K-State’s Alpha Upsilon Chapter almost immediately.
This Pratt Greenback was no ordinary college student. Far from it, in fact. He was a “38-year-old when he was 18.” He wore a pocket protector in his shirt and a calculator on his belt. He walked with a distinct gait that was all his own. And he had a sense of humor that could be best referred to as unique…or warped.
We were BOTH socially awkward, yet he was nearly always the life of any party he stumbled upon. I was always a bit jealous of him for that. No one ever designed a t-shirt for a party with MY likeness on it. But they did for Don. He was special.
When his fellow Delta Sig brothers elected him as our treasurer in November 1984, little did they know that they were shaping the future of our chapter of our beloved fraternity for decades to come.
Let me repeat that: Don Grier’s work as treasurer of the Alpha Upsilon Chapter in the Spring Semester of 1985 was one of the key reasons there is still an Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi.
A little history lesson is in order here. In the early- to mid-1980s, the Alpha Upsilon Chapter was in debt to virtually everyone a fraternity could be indebted to: the National fraternity, local banks, alumni members…you name a group, we likely owed them money.
But the men in the house during that period of time were determined to change all of that — none more so than the guy with the calculator on his belt.
During that fateful Spring 1985 semester (yes, it was important enough to refer to it in that way), I got a first-hand look at Don’s “wizardry” with our chapter’s finances. I was lucky enough to be President of the house during that same semester. And the amount of time I spent with Don — figuring out ways to “make the debt vanish” dwarfed anything that either of us did that semester.
But I’ll take very little credit for what happened during that amazing five months. The men of the chapter closed off New Wing and all moved into the “old” portion of the house, attempting to save money wherever we could. We probably didn’t actually save all that much, but I’d like to think the sacrifice brought us closer in ways that you couldn’t qualify in dollars and cents.
We eliminated meal service from Friday night until Monday morning. An “open” kitchen? You’re kidding, right? The “pit” was locked up tighter than a drum! And when we did sit down for a meal, it was more than likely “stew on a plate.” That “stew” was more than likely a whole lot of vegetables and VERY little meat.
And though the house was still “wet” at that point, there was NO social budget. Brotherhood bonding? It was “on your own dime.”
When that semester was over, we were “in the black” on more than one ledger sheet. It was, simply, the work of a group of men who loved each other WAY BEFORE it was en vogue to openly say so. It was, simply, orchestrated by one remarkable man.
And when I handed the reigns of the house to the remarkable Kevin Vondra — who served honorably as President for three semesters (unheard of at that time) — the men of Alpha Upsilon had a chance to REALLY change the face of Delta Sig on the K-State campus.
There was a move into the top quartile academically, athletic success we could only dream of, and growth in membership numbers that was unprecedented for Alpha Upsilon at that time.
Yes, my friends and brothers, it’s NO EXAGGERATION to say that the man with the pocket protector, the distinctive walk, and more “theories” than you could shake a stick at IS and WAS a big part of the reason that the CURRENT Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi even had a snowball’s chance in Hell of becoming the juggernaut it is today.
Best K-State fraternity? You can make that argument for sure.
But our world, and the beloved Pyramid of ours that’s the center of that world for so many of us, is a bit less special today.
You can be damn sure, however, that God, Cliff Veatch and Jack Taylor are laughing along with my brother tonight.
Rest In Peace, Don.