Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Death of Frater Bob Kirkhuff, former Chapter Adviser

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

(From the AJC with other sources) Bob Kirkhuff passed away after a brief illness on April 12th.

Frater Kirkhuff

Charles Robert Kirkhuff (Bob) was born in Scranton, PA on January 8, 1921. His parents were Charles and Donzella Kirkhuff. Bob attended University of Rhode Island before being drafted. He served three years in the Eighth Army Air Corp with 2 1/2 years in England in the First Air Division, Intelligence Section. He returned stateside in 1945 and married Luise Gartner. He then attended Brown University in Rhode Island, when a position became available at Grinnell Corp. in Atlanta as a metallurgist to open a lab. When Grinnell closed the plant in 1974, Bob became an optician for Ballard where he worked for 12 years before retiring.

Bob loved his family, friends, church and country. He served as a Senior Warden, Junior Warden and many committees in the Episcopal Church. His hobbies were photography, wood-working, traveling and gardening. He held many posts in his local neighborhood association.

He was a chapter adviser for Beta Pi Chapter of TKE at Georgia Tech for over 25 years. Bob and Luise arrived in Atlanta in the early 1950s at a crucial time in the chapter’s history when the organization was losing its original founders and leadership was passing to the  members the founders had recruited. Together Bob and Luise were a benevolent and stabilizing influence, guiding the young chapter through numerous existential and property-related crises. With their help the chapter became a large, stable organization providing a residential experience in its own property.

For Bob’s lifelong contribution to the character and success of the chapter, he was honored as the first member of the its Order of Beta-Pi.  

Bob and Luise were married for over 66 years. Surviving are sons Mark and Paul, daughter Donna Smith and her husband James and granddaughter Lauren.

Service will be held at The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. Benno Pattison officiating, located at 2089 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE, Atlanta GA 30307 on Thursday, April 19th at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his memory to the music department at Epiphany or the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra. A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory.

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Do You Know the Provenance of this Object?

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

"TKE" Bible

A Bible found its way into a brother’s hands while he lived at the TKE House. Though he did not know its significance, he has kept it safe ever since.

Can you explain how it came to be at 159 5th Street?

It’s the size of a modern paperback book. The cover is white. A small metal TKE crest has been affixed to the middle of the front cover. Some of the pages are flecked with red candle wax.  The first page implies that it was produced to give to newly married couples but, of course, this particular copy was not.

It is a copy of the original King James Version of 1611.  An examination of several verses shows that it is not the New American Standard Version.

Since the days of house mother Lomie Jetton, the chapter has used a large, beautifully bound and illustrated bible.

Could this copy be from an earlier day–the chapter’s original, perhaps?

If you recognize this object, please respond via the submit news page.



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TKE Tug of War

Friday, July 8th, 2011

In the last half of the 1990s, the only force on campus that could stop TKE Beta-Pi was the Chapter itself.  With lots of members, good financial control, a new social quarters, a refurbished dormitory, and a hell-yeah attitude, the Tekes at Georgia Tech excelled. It was a time of tremendous energy, confidence and, not surprising, accomplishment and fun.

Nothing exemplifies the feel of those days better than the Chapter’s dominance at Greek Week Tug of War, here accurately depicted in its “We are going to take all of your rope” glory on the back of a t-shirt from the day.

TKE Tug of War - Don't Make Them Angry

Those are Pat Bartlett, Chadwick Smith and Brandon Melton displaying their angry faces at another hapless opponent during 2000 spring.

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The Irish are Coming! 15 Years ago at TKE Beta-Pi

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Then-Chapter Adviser Michael Smith with his Irish Flag Signed by all the Team Members who lived in the TKE House

Michael, me boy, how’d you like to come to the closing ceremonies with us?

Fifteen years ago, right about this time of the year, a group of seven initiates and one girlfriend worked night and day for 2 weeks to finish preparing the TKE House for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.  This was our modern-day “magnificent seven” and their work capped off one of the most heroic periods in our chapter’s history.

Atlanta’s application for the games including using the Georgia Tech campus for the Olympic village.  The problem was, even with the construction of new west campus dormitories at Tech and the Georgia State (sic) University dorms in Techwood, there would not be enough bedspace for all the athletes.  So the ACOG (Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games) approached the Greek community with an offer of $1,400/bed for the use of Greek housing during the games.  Since campus would be closed anyway, it was our only prospect for any rent revenue during the games.  The catch was that the houses had to meet certain criteria and the bedrooms had to be cleared of all built in lofts so that an Olympic standard suite of furniture (bed, wardrobe, and short chest-of-drawers) could be moved in.

Sensing an opportunity to have someone else pay for some long-needed renovations to the dormitory, TKE quickly agreed to lease our house to the ACOG.  In early 1995, we were the first Greek organization at Georgia Tech to sign an agreement.  What followed was a solid year of demolition and reconstruction in which every piece of sheetrock in the house was replaced, every bathroom rebuilt, every loft torn out, new carpet laid in every room, every outlet was repaired, and every room was wired for telephone, cable TV and Internet.  All this was done corner by corner while the members lived in the House. No generation of TKEs before or since, dealt with such disruptions to their everyday lives or accomplished so much in so little time.

It turned out that the Irish, who field a large team, had had their eyes on the TKE house ever since construction had begun on the new social quarters in 1993.   They sought a solution to the problems with transportation and communication they had experience in Barcelona in 1992, where the team dormitory, office and medical spaces had been located in various places in the city.  In the TKE House, they saw an opportunity to bring all these things together under one roof.

While the games were going on, then-Chapter Adviser Michael Smith (#783) used his village pass to visit the Teke House almost every day and met most of the athletes who lived there.  He brought an Irish flag with him and asked each athlete to sign it.   On the day of the closing ceremony, he showed up to get the last few signatures when the Chef de Mission (on the right in the photograph) asked him whether he’d like to go to the closing ceremonies with the Irish Team.  ”Of course I jumped on that and got on the bus with the team,” Smith later wrote, “but I was disappointed that I had picked that day, of all days, to not bring my camera with me into the village.  It didn’t matter, though, since they gave disposable cameras to everyone as we entered the stadium.  What was funny later was that, when athletes from different countries took to running around on the field with their national flags, the Irish realized that none of them had brought one of their own.   I, the lone American, was the only person sitting with the team who had an Irish flag.  So they borrowed mine and ran around with that one for awhile.  I kept a pretty close eye on it since I really wanted it back after that.”

Smith plans to put the flag on permanent display in the Chapter House once a suitable way of securing it is created.

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June 6th 1944, 1948, and 2011

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Sixty-three years ago, over a weekend anniversary of D-Day, our chapter was founded by veterans of WWII.

No doubt they were aware of the significance of these days for all the young men who had left their homes and families, drawn abroad by the conflicts of others, to set things right in the Wider World.

Those events were only 4 years in the past for those veterans, still young, who were attending Georgia Tech on the GI Bill.  The country had only begun to recover from the sudden return of millions of men to the labor force.  Much of Western Europe still lay in ruins.  Tensions were running high in Berlin–the blockade was only weeks away.

What were you doing only 4 years ago this weekend?  How long ago does that seem?

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The Beta-Pi Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity has operated for over 60 consecutive years at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Enjoy news of what the alumni are up to and what's in store for the collegiate members. Let us know what you're doing. Learn about our organization and find out how you can help in our good work.
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