Forty-six years later, pledging is over!
Friday, November 13th, 2009
A special initiation ceremony was conducted for Bernard “Skip” Wendt, BSIM’69, on Nov. 3 when he finally became a member of the Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity at Lawrence Technological University 46 years after he started pledging. Thirty brothers attended the ceremony ceremony held at “The Castle” (the fraternity house) on Nine Mile in Southfield.
His journey began when he was part of a 1963 pledge class that included Ralph Eagle, Craig Lyons, Jim Turry, and Bob Markowitz. Skip made it through the pledging process, but a couple of days before initiation Lawrence Tech officials ruled that a less than satisfactory grade in one of Skip’s classes dropped his quarter grade point average below what was then required by the school to complete initiation. Skip was required to drop out of the pledge class.
In the intervening years, Skip never really stopped acting as if he were a brother. He maintained a close friendship with Phi Kappa Upsilon members Jim Oliver (his big brother when he started pledging), Ralph Eagle (best man at his wedding), Al Wohlart, Fred Kay, Dave Henry, Tom Doyle, Bert Gelmine, and three members who have now died, Roger Deplante, Carlos Arugo, and Arno Hellthaller.
He graduated with a degree in industrial management and a GPA just under 3.0. He founded a company, and he when needed help, he hired the children of PKU members. He and the members vacationed together, met for barbeques, attended family weddings and fraternity funerals. Despite his never being officially initiated, he continued to conduct his life as a brother of Phi Kappa Upsilon would.
Last spring, some PKU alumni members decided to correct what was now a 46-year-old wrong and allow Skip to complete his last hurdle to full membership as a brother. He now has the distinction of being the PKU member who, by far, spent the most time as a pledge.
Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity was founded in 1932 at the suggestion of Russell E. Lawrence just after he founded Lawrence Institute of Technology. The signing of the fraternity charter took place on Nov. 21, 1932, and included President Lawrence as an honorary member. It was organized to perpetuate the bond of friendship between students, and its purpose is to further the individual and collective welfare of its members by creating cultural, educational and fraternal advantages. It is also the only fraternity at Lawrence Tech to have its own house.
– Gary Lowell, BSME’69