APRIL 22 – 24, 1977
★ ★ ★
THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
The Story of The Century (1977)
Six hundred seventy-five to seven hundred Phi Delts, their families and friends, gathered on the Ole Miss campus at Oxford, April 22-24, 1977 for The Centennial celebration of the Mississippi Alpha Chapter of Phi Delta Theta.
It was a joyous weekend with Brothers from all over the United States and Canada joining with L. Bradley Callicott ’58 of London, England who came the greatest distance. The member who had been a Phi longest signed The Bond at Tulane in 1915 and the youngest attendant has not yet reached the age of six months.
Mississippi Alpha was particularly honored to have The General Council present together with Past President H.L. “Pete” Stuart and his wife Josephine from State College, Pennsylvania. General Council President; Doug Phillips (New Mexico, ’49) of Huntington Beach, California led the delegation of distinguished Phis which included: Bruce Thompson (Minnesota, 1949) of Minneapolis, Reporter; Glen Cary (Texas Tech 1956) of Dallas, Texas, Treasurer; Charles Wicks (Willamette, 1947), Corvallis, Oregon, Member-at-Large; and Hal Minnich (Akron 1924) and his lovely wife Nalla of Lakewood, Ohio, Member-at-Large.
Adding great pleasure to the entire occasion was the presence of Canadian Brothers: George W. Brigden (Ontario Alpha 1948) of Toronto, Chairman of the Canadian Scholarship Foundation; J. Fred Green (Ontario 1930) of St. Thomas, Ontario with his wife Katharine, member of the Canadian Scholarship Foundation; and Robert S. Dinkel (Alberta 1953) of Calgary, Alberta, member of the Canadian Scholarship Foundation.
Other officials of the General Fraternity were William T. Estes, Jr. (TN Alpha 1955) of Nashville, TN with his wife Allister, member of the Survey Commission; Cary R. Buxton (Indiana Gamma 1973) of Oxford, Ohio, member of the Headquarters Staff. The Province Presidents were represented by Hugh G. Hines, Jr. and his wife Marjorie (Kentucky Alpha Delta, ’60), President of Delta North Province; and James W. (Billy) Stitt, II and his wife Helen (MS Alpha 1954) of Yazoo City, MS, President of the Theta West Province. Jake J. Marino (Louisiana Beta 1969) of Baton Rouge, LA and Chapter Advisor to the Louisiana Beta Chapter represented the Chapter Advisors.
These were the official and honored guests from the General Fraternity but there were many, many more honored and distinguished guests including those honored with Golden Legion recognition. That story and others to be recognized will follow in the photography section of our report.
What We Did
We gathered on Friday afternoon, April 22nd. Each of the lovely lady visitors was greeted in her room with a bud vase of blue and white carnations. The Ole Miss Phi “Centennial Edition” Was on hand too, as was a registration list with room locations for all attendants. The Hospitality rooms opened early and soon after arrival there were squeals, hugs, handshakes and slaps on more than a few backs. Some took to swimming in the pools at the Alumni House and The Village Inn, the two headquarter hotels. Others visited the House and around the campus and with each other.
By six-thirty, the gathering at the House (which was outstanding) had started. The House was magnificent – no other words would describe it – flowers were everywhere and it was generally agreed that no occasion had ever had a greater variety or a more beautiful display. More than five hundred Phis, wives, families and friends enjoyed the evening which featured music, lovely surroundings, delicious food and unbelievable fellowship.
For the younger – and the hardy – The Centennial Ball was at the Oxford Armory and held sway until the late, late hours. Good music and many, many fellow students and Greeks joined Phi Delt friends in the celebration. Some of the “old grads” and their wives even tried it for a while. It was a great ball and added materially to the weekend’s festivities. Many of the classes had reunions at their motels and the hospitality rooms became favorite spots again.
Saturday and Sunday mornings there was a Commercial Appeal at everyone’s door and breakfast at your motel was “on the House”. More visiting – new acquaintances made and a closer look at the campus.
The Saturday House Corporation Meeting was short and disbanded as many Brothers and their wives chose to visit Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner. Others visited the Hospitality Suits and soon everyone gathered again at the House for another view and inspection of the lovely facilities enjoyed by Mississippi Alpha. Good lunch, good fellowships and the crowd scattered: several cars went to Holly Springs to visit homes there during the town’s annual pilgrimage. It was baseball against LSU and the Rebels came through for two Centennial victories on Saturday and Sunday. A number slipped over to see the Spring Football Practice and speculate on where “The Rebels” would be in 1977. More visiting, more sightseeing – not a time to be bored – Hospitality again all building up for the big occasion- The Centennial Banquet.
It was in the University Cafeteria, they served 625 guests. The flowers were there, it was a beautiful layout and the food was delicious. We had speeches, awards, recognitions – “and a good time was had by all”. The ladies had a choice of a Clue or White Carnation and everyone was given a Centennial favor – a plaque of either the Phi Delt House or of the Lyceum.
Back again we went to visit, partake of hospitality and reminisce. Back we were among friends, both old and new, at Mississippi Alpha’s most remarkable and memorable occasion. The brunch at the House was the last scheduled occasion. They came, they ate and visited from 9:30 a.m. until well past three. No one wanted to leave but Father Time and the distances home finally pushed them out the door. None of us who were there thought it could possibly have been so successful, so delightful and so flawless – but it was and it shall linger in our memories forever.