The History of Beta Kappa Chapter
The first meeting of an interested group concerning the organization of a colony of Phi Kappa Tau was held October 20, 1948, in Room 210 of Morrill Hall. Those attending the first meeting who became members were Henry Beers, Ray Bergman, Gene Burns, Darrel Fahler, Herbert Goodenough, Ivan Griffith, Walter Hamilton, Don Notary, Wayne Settles, Lawrence Sigler, Bob Stout, and Charles Wolfe.
Jack L. Anson, a field secretary for the fraternity, conducted the meeting. After a lengthy discussion of Phi Kappa Tau principles and ambitions the group make the decisions to undertake the task of building a colony that was destined to become the Beta Kappa chapter. Officers were elected that night to assume the positions in the colony. They were Ivan Griffith, president, Larry Sigler, vice president, Walter Hamilton, secretary, and Ray Bergman, treasurer. That night was the beginning of Phi Kappa Tau on Oklahoma A&M campus. Our next meetings were to be held in the basement of Old Central. A constitution was drafted and duly accepted.
The first group activity was a Victory Party following the Tulsa University and A&M game at Tulsa. We later journey to Kansas University for their Homecoming fame with A&M. The chapter there showed us a wonderful time. The first initiation was held December 18, 1948, at the chapter house at Kansas University. The ten men initiated were Henry Beers, Ray Bergman, Gene Burns, Walter Hamilton, Don Notary, Wayne Settles, Lawrence Sigler, Charles Wolfe, Tom Terry and Dick Rundle.
The first rush party was a bowling party. Our first spring dance was held April 22, 1949, at Holbrooks. It was called the First Carnation Ball. Our constitution was formally ratified on March 2, 1949. We received our charter May 16, 1949, becoming the Beta Kappa chapter. The chapter leased the house at 224 Ramsey, May 17, 1949 for the chapter house for the coming year.
The first meeting in the new chapter house was held September 20, 1949. We were a small but enthusiastic group. We held our first rush and pledged three men. The chapter operated on a close budget and through the efforts of Mrs. Ruth M. Christman, our first housemother, we were able to make ends meet. We made use of a two-car garage for housing by closing the front, finishing the ceiling and walls. This was our annex. Necessity seemed to be the mother of invention.
We participated in all of the intramural activities. Our showing was not always spectacular, but it was extremely important to the chapter’s interest to become recognized as a fraternity on the campus. The previous spring we had served notice on the Betas that we were very much alive by soundly beating their softball team.
The fall the highlights were competing in the Homecoming parade with a float; presenting out first costume dance, the Highland Fling, with everyone in kilts, and the spring dance, again known as the Carnation Ball.
In May, 1951, we finally placed fourth in the intramural track meet. Bill Warren took three firsts in the meet; the high jump, the broad jump, and the quarter mile. During the summer of 1951, the chapter won the scholarship improvement plaque.
The fall of 1951 highlights was entering Homecoming with a spectacular jewel float. The Sawdust Stomp was the big dance of the fall. That spring we presented out spring dance, the Stardust Formal. Walter Hamilton, one of the first initiates, was the first and only student in the history of Oklahoma A&M to complete four years of college with straight As.
In the summer of 1952 we were able to obtain property of our own. We purchased a house at 1203 W. 3rd Ave. It was something to build with and expand knowing that we were improving property that belonged to us. The chapter instantly responded by exhibiting a fine pledging program. The chapter roster grew to 65 men. Our second housemother, Mrs. Crystal Foreman, joined us. That September the first edition of the chapter newspaper, The Rambler, was published. This was the inspiration of Donald Walker.
In 1959 the construction of the current Beta Kappa House started construction and the new three-story building was opened in the fall of 1960.
After many years of usage the Alumni created the Beta Kappa Housing Corporation in 1982 and submitted stock to alumni so that we could raise money and preform a substantial renovation of the chapter house. The effort, which was led by FL “Mac” McKinley, dramatically redesigned the chapter house by adding the informal pit area, front door foyer, enclosing the courtyard and creating the present day living room, and new bathrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floor extensions, forming the current building still in use today. The remodeling went over budget and past the targeted timeframe but was completed by the fall of 1985.
In 1987 after several years of financial difficulty in adjusting to the new and enlarged property and obligations, the house property was to be auctioned off on the Payne County Court House steps, so Phi Kappa Tau Properties under direction from the National Fraternity office purchased the house to save the Beta Kappa chapter from almost certain closure. The Beta Kappa Chapter Charter was pulled and recolonized by the Phi Kappa Tau National Fraternity and it’s Executive Director, John M. Green.
The Beta Kappa Chapter then spent the next year recruiting a new class of founding fathers known collectively as the “Refounding Fathers” of Beta Kappa who were initiated into the Fraternity in the spring of 1988. Steve Patry was elected as the new Chapter President. These new brothers immediately began to recruit the first pledge class of the new Beta Kappa Chapter of Phi Kappa Tau under the direction of Rush Chairman, Shannon Goodsell. To reward the successful efforts of these “Refounding Fathers” the National Fraternity issued the resolution that reinstated the Beta Kappa Chapter Charter in the fall of 1988. Executive Director, John M. Green personally returned the Charter to the chapter members in a ceremony and celebration held at 1203 W. 3rd Ave.
In 2003 the Beta Kappa Housing Corporation was re-established with 4 founding alumni officers, Chris Davenport (President), David Sutton (Treasurer), Ray Smith (Secretary) and David Wilson (Fundraising Chairman). The new Housing Corporation worked with the National President, John Cosgrove and Phi Kappa Tau Properties President, Steve Hartman to arrange the purchase of the Chapter House and to return it to Beta Kappa ownership. At the 2004 National Convention the documents were signed and approved by the National council, and Beta Kappa Chapter House was returned to the control of the Beta Kappa Housing Corporation.
In 2006 the Phi Kappa Tau National Fraternity inducted John C. Gray ’64, F. Mac McKinley ’51, Mike Morgan ’73, David W. Miller II ’89, David Sutton ’89, and Chris Davenport ’93 into the 1st class of the National Hall of Fame.
From 2004 to present the Beta Kappa Housing Corporation has spent over $665,993 to preform many city-required and other physical improvements to make 1203 W. 3rd Ave the house and home it is today. The Fraternity members, alumni and Housing Corporation are constantly working to improve the chapter, its membership and property.