Cross & Crescent a Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity publication
INSIDE: Astronaut to Math Teacher
Tom Akers logged more spacewalking hours than any astronaut in U.S. history.
Reinventing the Pen
It took 15 years, but two brothers finally got the ergonomically-designed PenAgain successfully launched.
A Coaching Legend
Al Fracassa is the all-time wins leader in Michigan high school football. September 2006 . XCIII . Issue 9
Cross & Crescent a Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity publication Features Chapter News 3 Chapter and Alumni News Fraternity News 6 Educational Foundationâ€™s Leadership History 8 First Day Covers
Astronaut to Math Teacher Tom Akers logged more spacewalking hours than any astronaut in U.S. history. Today, he is back home teaching math at the University of Missouri-Rolla. By Dan Billow
Reinventing the Pen It took 15 years, but two brothers finally got the ergonomicallydesigned PenAgain successfully launched. Together, they are reinveting the way people write. By Tad Lichtenauer
a Coaching Legend Al Fracassa is the all-time wins leader in Michigan high school football history with 354 wins and was named National High School Coach of the Year in 2005. By Chris Barrick
Publisher: Bill Farkas Editor: Jason Pearce Assistant Editor: Chris Barrick Assistant Editor: Tad Lichtenauer Illustrator: Jeff Reisdorfer Podcast Voice: Fuzz Martin Photographer: Walt Moser Assignment Editor: Jon Williamson Historian: Mike Raymond Contributing Editors: Jono Hren Aaron Jones George Spasyk
Content for consideration should be submitted by the fiftenth of the month. Lambda Chi Alpha 8741 Founders Rd Indianapolis, IN 46268-1338 (317) 872-8000 email@example.com www.lambdachi.org www.crossandcrescent.com
Cross & Crescent SEPTEMBER 2006
Chapter News Chapter news, alumni news, and reports of death Arkansas (Gamma-Chi)
The chapter was awarded the 2005–2006 Greek Award of Excellence. The chapter had a cumulative 3.15 GPA for fall 2005 and a 3.157 GPA for spring 2006, highest of all the fraternities.
Doug Finberg (1994) was hired as the senior vice president, international marketing for Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, California.
Adam Harrington (2008) died August 11, 2006. Harrington, who was a nursing major and very involved in the Fraternity, was struck by lightning while jogging.
U.S. Navy Medic Jamie Sclater (2002) was given the rare opportunity to participate in advanced training with U.S. Marines in Hawaii.
Birmingham Southern (Theta-Mu)
Hobson Adcock (1944) died August 9, 2006.
Fifteen chapter members volunteered at the Alachua County Humane Society. They maintained two fenced-in exercise areas and brought out dogs to walk and play.
William “Sandy” d’Elia (1969) died July 3, 2006. He was an architect and expert on urban planning and design marketing.
George Washington (Delta-Xi)
Derek Grosso (2000) and Patrick Preston (1999), founders of C-BUS Magazine, are founding directors of the Columbus, Ohio, Young Professionals Club.
Louis Tharp (1972) won two gold and two silver medals in swimming at the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago, Illinois.
After entering Butler’s Athletic Hall of fame, Barry Collier (1976) was named the school’s athletic director. He previously served six seasons as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Nebraska. He also played for and later coached men’s basketball at Butler University.
Joseph Gurreri (2008) was elected president of the Gettysburg College Class of 2008, and David Moore (2008) was elected vice president. Both men also were re-elected to the Student Senate. Gurreri is a football player who lost his brother over Thanksgiving. The chapter is organizing a 5k race to commemorate Joseph’s brother Jake.
Iowa (Iota-Chi Colony)
Dr. Alfred Wheeler Childs (1943) died July 5, 2006. He practiced internal medicine in Berkeley, California.
Scott Long (1984), with the support of Ross Rayner (1981), Brad Snell (1985), and Mark Zachmeyer (1984), participated in the RAGBRAI bicycle ride for the first time after being diagnosed with cancer in August 2005.
Byron E. White (1943) died July 25, 2006. He was a retired attorney and received a Purple Heart during World War II while serving under Gen. George Patton.
The 70-year-old chapter house was torn down to be replaced by a new chapter house scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. More than 50 alumni attended the demolition ceremony and $1.1 million has been raised to date.
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U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler presented the chapter with an American Flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Neil Stanglein (2006) was named coordinator of Greek life and student involvement at William Woods University. Robert Cook (2007) died July 29, 2006. A skydiving instructor, Cook was one of six skydivers killed when their plane crashed shortly after take-off. Cook has been hailed a hero after he calmly told his skydiving trainee that their plane was about to crash and he needed to embrace her so he could take the full force of the impact. The trainee and one other passenger survived the crash.
Dennis McKay (1984) was named associate director of enrollment services for Morehead State University. He will manage all recruitment activities, supervise professional and student staff, assist in the university’s retention plan, and provide guidance on academic programs.
Murray State (Lambda-Eta) Phil Jones (2005) designed the new logo for the U.S.Equestrian Team.
Eric Banks (2004) is a cast member of MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenges: Fresh Meat.
Dick Moore (1971) retired from broadcasting and left WKYC. He is now an associate professor of journalism at the University of South Carolina.
Larry Mansfield (1983) has started an email distribution list for chapter alumni. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oklahoma State (Alpha-Eta)
Creighton L. “Lep” Lephart (1949) died July 23, 2006. Lephart was one of the chapter’s founding brothers.
Mark Christiansen (1986) is the new director of sales and distribution for Avalon Healthcare.
Michigan Tech (Phi-Phi)
Pittsburg State (Lambda-Chi)
The chapter is completing $250,000 of renovations to its chapter house. Pictured is the chapter’s new front door.
Maj. Lon E. Williams (1988) is currently serving in the military in Afghanistan. Pete Cole (1982) is the newly appointed chief financial officer for A. Zahner Co., a leading global steel fabricator.
Chris Best (1997) is the new assistant news director at WKMG-TV6, the CBS affiliate in Orlando, Florida.
Led by the combined efforts of Scott Decker (2007), Jim Benzing (1977), and John Pfeifer (1981), alumni and chapter members gathered and completed $95,000 worth of renovations to the chapter house.
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South Dakota (Alpha-Gamma)
Southern Methodist (Gamma-Sigma)
Lambda Chi Alpha tied for second out of all North-American Interfraternity Conference fraternities for the most chapters with the top campus GPA for 2006. The following 21 chapters helped the Fraternity achieve this honor.
LeRoy A. Lambrecht (1955) died August 10, 2006.
The chapter moved into a new $3.2 million house.
• Arkansas State • Culver-Stockton
Ed George (1989) died July 25, 2006. He was employed in the education department of Citrix Systems in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as a writer of on-line tests and software instruction manuals.
• Georgetown (KY) • Gettysburg • Hanover • Marietta
Texas-San Antonio (Phi-Upsilon)
• North Carolina-Greensboro
Shane Foley (2002), associate director of Lambda Chi Alpha business affairs, was named a University of Texas-San Antonio Alumni Rising Star.
• Northeastern State • Pittsburgh • Pittsburg State
Steven Franz (1991) was inducted into the U.S. National Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
• Rensselaer • Sam Houston State • Simpson • South Carolina-Aiken • Southern Methodist • Spring Hill • Tarleton State • Union • William Jewell
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Educational Foundation Leadership The Educational Foundation’s leadership.
By Mark Bauer (California State-Fullerton 1979)
Gregg Behrens was appointed the new chairman of the Lambda Chi Alpha Educational Foundation. Since 2002, Behrens has been an important member of the board, serving as treasurer since 2003 until being elected chairman in July 2006. He also has served on the campaign cabinet for “The Call to Lead Campaign,” which has raised more than $5 million.
Professionally, Stead has been a CEO of five Fortune 500 companies including Ingram Micro, from which he retired in 2001. “It has been very exciting to see the progress our fraternity has made during the last four years,” he says. “Through Lambda Chi Alpha we are truly building leaders today that will make the world better tomorrow.” Educational Foundation Board of Directors Lambda Chi Alpha is fortunate to have hundreds of quiet heroes including brothers who, often at their own expense, travel to board meetings and educational conferences to serve as leadership facilitators, and who serve their local chapters as High Pis and house corporation members.
Professionally, Behrens (Iowa State 1974) is the executive vice president for the National Trust Company as head of Europe, Middle East and Africa — corporate and institutional services.
These volunteers serve three-year terms and meet four times a year either by phone or in person. They serve on committees, manage assets, as well as give and raise money for Lambda Chi Alpha.
“It is both an honor and a great responsibility to chair a board made up of men doing so much for Lambda Chi Alpha,” Behrens says. “I cannot thank my brothers on the board enough for entrusting me to serve our fraternity as chairman of our foundation’s board.
Northern Trust Company
Jack O. Bovender, Jr.
Hospital Corporation of America
David L. Burch
Peachtree Planning Corporation
Mauricio M. Cevallos
Lattice Capital Management, LLC
Joseph T. Charles
Charles Industries, Ltd
Rev. S. George Dirghalli
Calvary Episcopal Church
J. John Fluharty
Ted R. Grossnickle
Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates
Mark A. Hoag
United Corporate Furnishings, Inc.
Wayne G. Klasing
Dr. Edward F. Leonard III
Vaughan W. McRae Southern Methodist 1978
McRae’s Department Stores
Iowa State 1974
Executive Vice President
“Lambda Chi Alpha has great alumni throughout the world who continue to exceed my expectations about their commitment, service, and giving.”
President & CEO
Executive Vice President
Rensselaer Polytechnic 1967
With Behrens’ new appointment, the Fraternity would like to recognize Jerre Stead (Coe 1965) for his tremendous service as the previous board chairman. Having served on the board since 1998, Stead helped the Fraternity secure $8 million in gifts during his three-year role as chairman.
President & CEO
Lock Haven 1991
Stead and his wife, Mary Joy, have given a $1 million cash gift to the Fraternity’s capital campaign, and also have given up to $100,000 as annual fund gifts.
Chairman & CEO
Michigan State 1972
William Jewel 1979
In August, the Steads also received the North-American Interfraternity Conference Philanthropist of the Year Award.
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Executive Vice President of Government Relations
To honor their commitment, Lambda Chi Alpha’s leadership conference will now be known as The Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Leadership Seminar.
Gregg D. Behrens
President & CEO
Vice President of College Advancement Past Executive Vice President
Ronald A. Neville
Dr. Murphy M. Osborne, Jr.
Fundraising Research Consultant
H. Dean Sellers
Don N. Sherman
Charles E. Singer
Martin L. Smith
A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc.
Jerre L. Stead
Mark B. Templeton
Citrix Systems, Inc.
Mark A. Bauer
Lambda Chi Alpha Educational Foundation
High Point 1958
Florida State 1966 Oklahoma 1957 Evansville 1978
Valparaiso 1975 Coe 1965
North Carolina State 1974 California State-Fullerton 1979
President & CEO
Senior Vice President & Resident Manager Corporate Officer & Branch Manager Retired Chairman & CEO President & CEO President & CEO
Cross & Crescent
First Day Covers
This unique hobby finds several famous alumni. Collecting First day covers is not as well known a hobby as stamp collecting but it is an offshoot of this more popular past time. Many FDCs highlight the fraternity or sorority affiliations of famous men and women. FDCs are envelopes that bear a cancelled stamp (marked as used) on the first day the stamp was placed on sale. It is a graphic or textual presentation of when, where, and why a particular stamp was issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
Cochrane was initiated at Boston University and he went on to have a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His FDC is a beautiful example of the “Legends of Baseball” Century Team. This honored Cochrane as one of the Top 100 professional baseball players of the 20th Century. Col. Pappy Boyington This FDC, featuring Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (Washington 1948), brings to mind an interesting episode in our history.
Eight FDCs from Mike Raymond’s (Miami-Ohio 1967) collection of more than 450 fraternity and sorority FDCs are presented here. All have a Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity member as the center of attention and honor, and they represent various graphic styles, colors, and designs. Most of the FDCs Raymond has collected are complemented by custom made cachets, which is an added illustration or text that describes the stamp’s subject.
He pledged our Fraternity but due to financial difficulties, he was never initiated by Alpha-Psi Zeta. His initiation was delayed 15 years because of World War II and his earlier financial difficulties.
Cachet designs are created by using a great variety of techniques that include engraving, letter press, woodcut, embossing, hand painting, silk screening, and laser printing processes. While some cachets can be quite crude, many qualify as true works of art. Raymond’s collection is composed of “add-on” cachets that depict, in words or illustrations, the fraternity or sorority affiliation of the person or people honored by the stamp.
During World War II, he was the top ace of the U.S. Marine Corps’ famous “Black Sheep” Squadron. His career with the Black Sheep Squadron was made into a popular television series that ran from September 1976 to April 1978. Pappy Boyington’s character was portrayed by TV star Robert Conrad. As a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient during the war, Boyington returned to Alpha-Psi Zeta to be fully initiated into Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
In most cases these FDCs are designed with full color coats of arms and additional text that help explain the subject’s association with the college group or groups. Sometimes only text is added to the original cachet and, in rarer cases, only the coat of arms is added. The following are eight FDCs that are associated with members of our fraternity.
Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle (CaliforniaBerkeley 1918) is probably the most famous of Lambda Chi Alpha’s many military heroes. His exploits in organizing and executing the daring “Tokyo Raid” in 1942 were immortalized in the book Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.
Mickey Cochrane This FDC is an exception to the others in that it does not directly identify this great baseball player as a Lambda Chi. Jon Williamson (Maryland 1965), former sports editor of the Cross & Crescent magazine, pointed out that Gordon Stanley “Mickey” Cochrane (Boston University 1925) joined the Philadelphia Athletics in 1924. Before Cochrane’s Major League career ended, he had played in five World Series. www.crossandcrescent.com
By Mike Raymond (Miami-OH 1967)
In 1944, this book was made into a screen play for a popular movie with the same title.
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The two Doolittle FDCs shown are very interesting from a fraternal viewpoint. Neither mentions the fact that Doolittle was actually initiated as a member of the Achean Club during his Junior year at the University of California at Berkeley.
The “Harry S. Truman — Thirty-third President” First Day Cover is a beautiful work of art from “ArtCraft”, one of the premier FDC companies. Familiar images of Truman playing the piano and briskly walking in his white linen suit are coupled with a brief, but informative narrative of his life.
After the Achean Club was installed as California Alpha, Doolittle was formally initiated into Theta Kappa Nu in 1928 at the Fourth Grand Chapter in Cleveland, Ohio.
Once again his Masonic affiliation and his membership in Lambda Chi Alpha are represented by fraternal signs and symbols.
He later became a member of Lambda Chi Alpha with the merger of the two fraternities in 1939.
As a side note, his little-known vice president, Alben W. Barkley, is identified as a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
The 1950 FDC mistakenly identifies his place of initiation as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Lambda Zeta).
The next Truman FDC Raymond calls the “Prez in the Fez”. It is a delightful photograph of Truman wearing his Ararat Shrine Temple Fez.
President Harry S. Truman The most popular Lambda Chi honored with a FDC is President Harry S. Truman (Missouri-Columbia HON), 33rd president of the United States.
At one time such headgear was very popular among fraternal organizations. As a matter of fact, a very nice photograph of Warren A. Cole (Boston 1909), and an assembly of his Lambda Chi Alpha brothers, wearing the official Lambda Chi fez, is on display at our headquarters building.
Much about President Truman’s life and political career can be learned from a close look at the following FDC. The “In Memoriam” FDC is special because it has six stamps that have a direct relationship to Truman.
The final FDC, Give’em Hell Harry, commemorates the 100th anniversary of Truman’s birth. A classic ArtCraft steel engraving of Truman and his birthplace in Lamar, Missouri, illustrate the theme of this FDC.
Despite the fact that there is little text, much information is still presented to the viewer. Truman’s various affiliations are identified by coats of arms, seals, and devices.
The famous expression “Give ‘em Hell Harry” became the campaign rallying cry for his famous upset victory over Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential race.
A quick glance shows that he was a member of Alpha Delta Gamma Fraternity, the American Legion, Freemasonry, DeMolay, and Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.
Collecting FDCs is affordable, educational, and fun. As in the case of our Lambda Chi brothers, a close examinination of the information and illustrations on FDCs can yield greater knowledge about the historical figures they commemorate.
His association with the White House, the end of World War II, Washington, D.C., the United Nations, and the State of Missouri is conveyed through this carefully selected set of commemorative stamps.
Cross & Crescent
Astronaut to Math Teacher Tom Akers logged more spacewalking hours than any astronaut in U.S. history.
By Dan Billow (California State-Fullerton 1982)
Aboard the space shuttle endeavour, 195 nautical miles above the sparkling blue Earth, seven astronauts gathered on the orbiter’s middeck to try to save their mission. NASA’s Mission Control was not invited to this conversation. Ground controllers had already run out of ideas for capturing a stranded satellite.
It was good enough. The astronauts captured and repaired the satellite, and Akers had proven himself. Later in the mission, he and astronaut Kathryn Thornton executed another spacewalk, one for which they had trained for months on the ground.
Among themselves on this May night in 1992, the astronauts came up with their own plan.
Now, Akers and astronauts Rick Hieb and Pierre Thuot floated out into the shuttle’s payloadbay to make the world’s first three-man spacewalk.
Two spacewalkers had just failed in two attempts, using Mission Control’s specially designed tools, to catch the satellite.
Commander Dan Brandenstein, standing at the rear control station on the flight deck of Endeavour, had to do some precision flying.
Now, the astronauts devised a risky and bold new plan to grab it using nothing but their gloved hands. To do it, they’d need a third spacewalker.
The satellite, named Intelsat VI, was not just floating there in its orbit; it was spinning — slowly rotating as if it was trying to do everything it could to make its capture impossibly difficult.
They chose a quiet former math teacher from Eminence, Missouri, who’d never made a spacewalk. Spacewalking into History Astronaut Tom Akers (Missouri-Rolla 1973) was a park ranger, school principal, and U.S. Air Force pilot before becoming an astronaut in 1987. And at the University of MissouriRolla, near his hometown, he had become a Lambda Chi.
Brandenstein maneuvered his space ship, with the three spacesuited astronauts tethered in the payload bay to keep from floating away, within a few feet of the nine-thousand pound mass of metal. Any collision, even at the slowest of speeds, could wreck a payload bay door or damage a vertical stabilizer, dooming the crew to certain death by making the shuttle unable to survive the trip home.
In it, they assembled a structure using tools and techniques that would pave the way for future astronauts to build a space station in orbit. Astronauts are still doing that today. Akers went on to become one of NASA’s premier spacewalkers. He told author Anne Lenehan that spacewalking is a lot like dance choreography. “For it to go smooth and look smooth to anybody else, it took a lot of practice and basically that’s why we use the term choreography,” he said. “You could just go out and get the job done if you had all the time in the world, but when you only have six and a half hours to go and try to get a job done, you don’t want any wasted motion. That’s what we did in the pool (during training) and what they still do down at NASA training is to look for every efficiency.” The Intelsat capture was one of NASA’s few high-profile, shining moments in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
With vast numbers of Americans watching on live television, the spacewalkers reached out. At the precise capture moment, Hieb was supposed to call out, “Ready, ready, now.” Instead, in his excitement, he blurted, “OK, let’s do it!”
Cross & Crescent
FEATURE It represented a turnaround from the Challenger accident that had killed seven astronauts in 1986. But now NASA had an even bigger challenge. The billion-dollar Hubble Space Telescope, launched on a shuttle in 1989, was critically flawed. Its blurry vision was a constant symbol that NASA had lost its Apollo-era touch. It was up to another astronaut crew to change that, a crew led by the legendary Story Musgrave. The handpicked team of four spacewalkers, NASA’s best, naturally included Akers. Saving the Hubble Space Telescope Aboard Endeavour again, the astronauts vaulted into the starry Central Florida sky on December 2, 1993. In the back of the shuttle were 17,000 pounds of replacement parts and repair equipment for Hubble. It was make or break for NASA’s future. “Congress told us that if you do not fix the telescope, there is not going to be a space station,” Musgrave recalled. “Why? Because it takes a lot of spacewalks to assemble a space station and you have to demonstrate to us that you can do what you say.” The silvery space telescope was a thing of beauty, if not a perfect celestial observatory. America watched the spacewalkers in their snow-white suits against the glittering backdrops of Hubble’s gold solar panels, its mirror-bright exterior, and earth’s brilliant surface.
They persevered, and Thornton turned the spacewalk into one of the shuttle era’s signature moments. She and Akers detached one of Hubble’s malfunctioning solar panels, and Thornton held it aloft in her hands. On Earth, it would have weighed 352 pounds. In space, it weighed nothing at all. The plan was to bring home the old panels, but this one refused to fold up. There was nothing to do but throw it away — very carefully. Akers watched as Thornton let it go, making sure the hardware would not later re-contact the shuttle or the valuable space telescope. As the golden panel floated away, it caught the blast of the shuttle’s thrusters. The burst of exhaust puffed out the flexible solar panel like the wind filling a sail. “It looks like a bird,” Thornton called out. The moment made for a picture that was carried in every newspaper and seen on every TV newscast the next day. The mission was a brilliant success. During five spacewalks, Akers, Musgrave, Thornton, and Jeff Hoffman installed an array of new equipment, including a set of optics that corrected Hubble’s vision. To this day, the Hubble Space Telescope is one of America’s scientific crown jewels, filling textbooks and Web sites with stunning, clear images of the universe. “I heard Story say lots of times when people asked him how he felt about the mission — he would say he was scared to death,” Akers told author Lenehan. “That was early on. By the time we flew, he wasn’t saying that very much because the more
The repairs were not easy. Brother Akers was paired with his old partner from the Intelsat mission, Kathryn Thornton.
Astronaut Terrence W. Wilcutt (Western Kentucky 1974) is a veteran of four space flights and has logged more than 1,007 hours in space. Wilcutt and Akers traveled on one space shuttle mission together, STS-79 Atlantis (September 16–26, 1996). This mission was the fourth in the joint American-Russian Shuttle-Mir series of missions, launched from and returned to land at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. On this mission, Atlantis rendezvoused with the Russian MIR space station and ferried supplies, personnel, and scientific equipment to this base 240 miles above the Earth. The crew transferred more than 3.5 tons of supplies to and from the Mir and exchanged U.S. astronauts on Mir for the first time — leaving John Blaha and bringing Shannon Lucid home after her record six months stay aboard Mir. The mission lasted 10 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, traveling 3.9 million miles in 159 orbits of the Earth. Today, Wilcutt is Lambda Chi Alpha’s only active astronaut, serving as the manager, safety and mission assurance for the space shuttle program. Tom Akers (Missouri-Rolla 1973) and Richard N. Richards (Missouri 1969) are both retired.
training we got, the more comfortable we felt that yeah, we can go do this even though a lot of folks didn’t think you could go do... all this complicated stuff.” All Photos Courtesy of NASA.
The communications in her suit broke down, requiring Akers to relay everything she said to Mission Control. Her suit’s cooling system became plugged, and mission managers had to question whether the spacewalk could continue. www.crossandcrescent.com
Together in Space
Cross & Crescent
Reinventing the Pen It took 15 years, but two brothers finally got the ergonomically-designed PenAgain successfully launched. as California polytechnic sophemores in the same dorm, Colin Roche (California Polytechnic 1995) and Bobby Ronsse (California Polytechnic 1995) both unknowingly pledged Lambda Chi Alpha.
By Tad Lichtenauer (Butler 1987)
Bonds of True Brotherhood Whether it was a skate board competition, bath tub races, or a hot dog eating contest, Roche and Ronsse believe their business skills were greatly enabled by the bonds of true brotherhood. Roche says, “I think the confidence building of putting yourself out there and if it doesn’t work it’s almost a success because the world’s still standing, it didn’t hurt that bad, and you still have these great people around you saying ‘Ok, what are you going to try next?’”
“We didn’t get to know each other and I guess we thought each other was goofy,” Roche says.
It’s better than never having had that opportunity because you never felt that comfortable with certain people or groups, Ronsee says. Maybe you had ideas or things you wanted to do but just never did it because you did not have that support group.
After receiving their bids, both men were escorted to the chapter house where all the new associates were introduced.
In the end, everybody laughs at you for trying something different but then they also end up having a great time, he says.
“We looked around and thought ‘Oh cool’ and then we both looked at each other and said ‘Oh no! Not you!’”
Invention from Detention In 1987, during a lunch break from detention at his Palo Alto, California, high school, Roche found a toy robot that when twisted doubled as a pen.
Fast-forward 10 years to 2001 and Roche and Ronsse are now great friends, business partners, and the creators of PenAgain, a wishbone-shaped writing instrument.
With the robot and a lighter, he burned the writing tip off one leg and then reattached it to the robot’s head.
Messy Business After joining Lambda Chi, Roche and Ronsse soon realized they both had an entrepreneurial spirit.
Writing in that position, with one index finger between the robot’s legs, he found he didn’t need to grip so tightly because the design supported the natural weight of his hand.
Brainstorming business ideas as only fraternity brothers can do, they decided to capitalize on the 28,000 dog owners living in close proximity to the chapter house. With a $200 investment to buy the registered dog owners list, their first business, Doo Doo Dudes, was born. They also came up with a catchy tagline: Business is really picking up.
In his garage, while most other Silicon Valley-garage inventors were busy building computers, Roche played with other pens, melting them down and shaping them into V-shaped writing instruments. He then told his father: “I have this idea to reinvent the pen.”
The brothers sold Doo Doo Dudes T-shirts and generated a lot of local publicity for their unique and successful business.
Through college, he continued thinking about his invention, choosing its name after a friend called and woke him from the dream he was having. “I was just thinking about that pen, again,” Roche told a friend.
“We put the whole fraternity to work,” Roche says. “That’s what planted the seed for later. We said after that, maybe later in life we should really try to hook up and do something.” However, both men knew they didn’t want their dog business to be their lasting legacy.
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FEATURE Business Partners In 2001, after Roche and Ronsse went their separate ways for a few years after graduation, they went out to dinner one night for Roche’s 30th birthday.
The Wal-Mart Effect
Roche said he was going to pay to have a computer design drawn for the PenAgain and Ronsse told him he could “do it in his sleep” as he was now a mechanical engineer for a semiconductor company.
Getting a product onto the Wal-Mart shelves can be one of the most challenging and rewarding process for any entrepreneur. For PenAgain’s founders Roche and Ronsse, it’s been a dream. Only 2 percent of Wal-Mart’s supplier-applicants makes it to the trial stage, and of that group roughly one-quarter do not make it past the trial in at least some Wal-Mart stores.
Ronsse went home and quickly designed something and told Roche where to get prototypes made, and that was the beginning.
So far, PenAgain’s Wal-Mart trial has been very successful and they hope to become an approved product that is distributed company-wide very soon.
Once the prototype was made, they began to meet weekly at Oasis, a well-known burger and beer restaurant near Stanford University. They would give each other homework, like finding an attorney or a package goods expert. They would also try to get feedback on the prototype wherever they went. “The feedback on it was insane,” Roche says.
While Wal-Mart has become one the largest retail outlets of all time, it too started out as the dream of just one man: Sam Walton. In 1962, Walton and his wife, Helen, put up 95 percent of the money for the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas, borrowing heavily on Walton´s vision that the American consumer was shifting to a different type of discount general store.
Putting in $5,000 each, Roche and Ronsse officially launched Pacific Writing Instruments in December 2001, filed for patent approval, and set up production in the Bay area of California.
Today, Walton’s gamble is a global company with more than 1.8 million associates worldwide and nearly 6,500 stores and wholesale clubs across 15 countries.
PenAgain then made its big debut at the National Stationary Show in New York City. After that they began receiving small orders from retailers, and that led to additional orders, distributors calling, and the viral marketing just continued to expand their business.
The Wal-Mart legacy continues in part from the leadership of two of Sam Walton’s sons, S. Robson Walton (Arkansas 1966) and Jim C. Walton (Arkansas 1970). Rob currently serves as Wal-Mart’s chairman while Jim is the CEO of Arvest Bank.
“It was very refreshing to still have this bond because we shared the brotherhood.” The PenAgain also has received positive reviews and testimonials from all types of users. Many users are people who were no longer able to grip a regular pen due to arthritis or other hand ailments and injuries.
The company also has growing sales in the promotional-products industry, European sales, and they continue to be one of the top sellers on Amazon for office products.
Writing the Future “Our dream for this right now is to be similar to what snowboarding did to skiing,” Roche says. “It was a basically a disruptive technology for the skiing industry.”
Last year PenAgain had $2 million in revenue from retailers, including 5,000 independent stationery and office-supply stores, 200 Staples in Canada, and other chain outlets including Fred Meyer and Hobby Lobby. In addition, PenAgain currently has major trials in progress with Wal-Mart and Office Depot.
PenAgain also is coming out with a smaller pencil version of PenAgain that forces correct posture for children. Doctors, teachers, and occupational therapists are saying it is simply a better way to write.
During the the recent Wal-Mart trial, Roche contacted the Cal Poly chapter and several others to ask them if they would report on how the PenAgain displays looked at area stores.
Plus, it would develop a PenAgain customer for life.
Roche received a lot of support from the chapters and he was pleasantly surprised by the response when he called asking for help.
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A Coaching Legend Al Fracassa is the all-time wins leader in Michigan high school football history Al frascassa has long had a photo of the legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi in his office. He once attended a coaching clinic during which Lombardi lectured for two hours about just one play — the Packers’ famous power sweep. Like Lombardi, Fracassa (Michigan State 1955) believes football success comes with discipline and character. For the last 38 years, Fracassa has been building that character in his players at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield, Michigan. “You learn a lot about getting along with people, a lot about failure, little bit about winning,” Fracassa says. “It’s one of the best lessons a person can get from being on the football field. It lasts a lifetime.” Fracassa is the all-time wins leader in Michigan high school football history and was named 2004 National High School Coach of the Year. On last year’s state champions rings the team’s mottos, “Make a Difference,” was engraved, and Fracassa hopes to have this year’s motto, “Play with Passion,” engraved on new championship rings at the end of this season. Not Just a Coach Fracassa was a great athlete in high school, starring in football, basketball and baseball. He was recruited to play football at Michigan State University, at the time a
top-ranked college football program under College Football Hall of Fame coaches Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty. Fracassa was on the MSU national championship team in 1952, and he went to the Rose Bowl in 1954, and got to be a part of the team’s 28-game winning streak. He spent his college career as a backup quarterback to All- Americans Tom Yewcic (1952–53) and Earl Morrall (1954). “It was a great time in my life.” Following graduation he went into the U.S. Army and played a couple more years of football with 13th Infantry Regiment. “We traveled all over Germany playing other Army personnel,” he says. “We were champions.” After his military service, he became the assistant football coach in Rochester High School, where he taught social studies. He then moved to Royal Oak Shrine High School, where he had nine successful seasons coaching players such as future college All-Americans Bill Simpson (Michigan State) and Jim Seymour (Notre Dame). In 1968, he was offered the head football coaching job at Brother Rice High School. Gridiron Classroom Brother Rice High School is a Catholic, all-boy, college prep school located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
By Chris Barrick (Butler 2004) During Fracassa’s career at Brother Rice, he has developed a legendary reputation and outstanding winning record (342 wins, 89 loss, and 7 ties). His success is due in large part to his ability to relate to the teenagers he coaches. “When I was young, I wanted my players to play like the guys at MSU who won 28 straight games,” Fracassa says. “I was disappointed in the lack of discipline.” But then he realized that each of his players had a different personality and he had to treat each of them differently. “Some kids you can talk to and get angry at them if they’re not producing and they’ll shake it off (and respond),” Fracassa says. “Some kids who have great potential you have to be careful what button you push because you don’t want to turn the kid off.” Fracassa also knows that some of life’s greatest essons can be learned on the football field. “You learn a lot about getting along with people, a lot about failure, little bit about winning.” Fracassa says. “There is a lot of teaching on the football field, different than the kind of instruction in the classroom. They learn how to become men.”
The school maintains high academic standards. It has approximately 650 students and one of the most successful athletic programs in the state, with 45 state championships.
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FEATURE Many stories are told by former players about how Fracassa treats all players equally no matter what their talent level.
Beyond being Michigan’s all-time winningest coach, he has won numerous other state and national honors over the years.
“It all comes down from how I was brought up, too,” he says. “Every kid on your team regardless if he’s the star or the last on the team, everyone of them is important.”
“I been very blessed with a lot of honors that were bestowed upon me,” Fracassa says. “The thing I’ve enjoyed most in my lifetime is being around the kids.”
Over the last 30 years has tried instilling these lessons in his players by using team mottos, a signature of his idol Vince Lombardi.
During the early 1980s, then-Michigan State coach Muddy Waters offered Fracassa the position of offensive coordinator.
The players who have graduated and are living successful lives say they still carry those mottos with them as they go through life. Though you would not believe it by his record, but Fracassa is strict in his beliefs that the game is not about winning. “Football is not how many games you win, it’s how many lives you touch. If they work hard and work with passion good things are going to happen to these kids.” Brother Rice Forever Fracassa has now retired from teaching and is exclusively coaching. “When you get to be 73, going to be 74 in November, you have to slow down a little bit.” Fracassa jokes, “If Bobby Bowden (Florida State) and Joe Paterno (Penn State), who turns 80 years old in December can last, I guess I can to.” If Fracassa did step away from the game, he would do so with his head held high for he accomplished most everything.
Twice, Waters’ successor at MSU, George Perles, offered Fracassa jobs as an assistant coach and former Detroit Lions head coach Monte Clark asked Fracassa to interview for an assistant coaching vacancy. Even with all the opportunity, Fracassa has stayed with where his heart is, with the young men at Brother Rice. His dedication is being rewarded by the school naming the new field after him. On September 15, the field at Brother Rice will be dedicated and named in Fracassa’s honor. “It’s really a nice thing they’re going to do so I’m trying to see if I can enjoy that for a few years.” Lambda Chi Teachings While at school at Michigan State, Fracassa lived in dormitory for two years and then got asked to join Lambda Chi Alpha. He was on ritual committee and says that was part of what he enjoyed most. He says he learned a lot from the ritual and those teachings have stayed with him through the years. “There was a lot of camaraderie in the house which is what made the house such a great place to be.” Fracassa says. “I think that goes along with football. To have a good football team you have to have a team that cares for each other.” “If I had a little problem with a class or something there was always somebody to me a helping hand,” he
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College Football Hall of Fame Lambda Chi Alpha has three members who have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Fred Biletnikoff Florida State 1965 Inducted in 1991
Ron Sellers Florida State 1956 Inducted in 1988
Charley Trippi Georgia 1944 Inducted in 1959
says. “That kind of carries over to a team and helping one and other.” Years after Fracassa thought his fraternity days were behind him he had his two sons join the fraternity. “It’s unbelievable,” he says. “They are two years apart. One joined and then low and behold two years later the other son joined.” Because of his schedule, Fracassa does not make it back to Michigan State much but he says he does have a player who is the grandson of one of the guys who was with him in the chapter house. “He comes out and watches his grandson,” Fracassa says, “He keeps me posted on the fraternity and what’s going on.” He believes that whether in the fraternity or on the field, “If kids have a good experience being part of a team then it’s going to be with them the rest of their life.” Photo Credits in Order of Apperance © Copyright Brother Rice High School, All rights reserved © Copyright Brother Rice High School, All rights reserved © Copyright Brother Rice High School, All rights reserved © Copyright Chris Barrick, All rights reserved © Copyright The College Football Hall of Fame, South Bend, Ind., All rights reserved © Copyright The College Football Hall of Fame, SEPTEMBER 2006 South Bend, Ind., All rights reserved © Copyright The College Football Hall of Fame, South Bend, Ind., All rights reserved