Gentlemen, We Are Delts

        Legacy of the Esquires and of the

Epsilon Zeta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta

 

Legacy is a synonym of Heritage, the name of a Sam Houston State University magazine. In reading the magazine, one is struck with what an incredible debt of gratitude we owe those who formed a college in Huntsville in 1879 and named it after the "Hero of San Jacinto."

 

In reflecting on that notion of legacy, two separate instances of heritage made it possible for EZ Delts reading this piece to call each other brother: In 1858, twenty-one years before the Austin College building became Sam Houston Normal Institute, at another small college in faraway Bethany, West Virginia, eight students decided to right a wrong and formed a new group they called Delta Tau Delta. They talked about honor and justice but in the end they just wanted to make their alma mater a better place for themselves and for future students. Eighty years later in 1938, another group of young students in Huntsville, Texas formed the first men's social club to promote school spirit at Sam Houston State Teachers College. They called themselves the Esquires and soon established traditions of service, fun, and camaraderie that were prized by generations of Sam Houston students.

 

Twenty years later, Dean of Men W.E. Lowry wanted the Esquires to become members of his national fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha. He even sent a group of Esquires to Washington, D.C. to the Pike convention. But 16 other national fraternities wanted the Esquires, too. And on a fateful night before the vote was to be taken, Colorado Delt Eldredge C. Thompson drove up from Houston to make another presentation on behalf of Delta Tau Delta. The rest is history: the legacies of those men from Bethany to Boulder to Huntsville were left to those of us initiated after the Esquire Club became the Epsilon Zeta Chapter on January 9, 1960, making us the first men's Greek Fraternity on campus. The first Delt House was located adjacent to Pritchett Field on 17th St. at Ave. N. It is now called the Baldwin House for academic scholarship students.

 

At the 50th anniversary of Epsilon Zeta Chapter's installation,  many Charter Members and other alumni donors announced they will build a new Delt Shelter at our beloved alma mater for today's young brothers and those of all the tomorrows to come. Someday those who are bequeathed this legacy will tell the stories of their youth and enjoy the reverie of the moment like the one about Esquire Larry Storrs whose rendition of "White Sport Coat" sung to the ladies of Belvin Hall is considered a classic! That one and hundreds more over the half century of Deltism at Sam Houston are priceless. They speak to brotherhood that most unique bond between men of different generations and colleges, even different regions of the country that gives us something in common we value and want to continue for those who follow us.

 

EZ Founder Ron Mafrige's generosity in paying off the debt on the second Delt House allowed us to sell it and purchase the 1.8-acre tract at 287 Bearkat Boulevard. In return for that $60,000 gift to us, our now late Bro. Mafrige only asked that we name the new shelter after his former roommate, the late Joe M. "Butch" MacKenzie. And other founders who have joined the Chapter Eternal way too soon will also be recognized on the "Wall of Honor." To make a tax-deductible donation that continues the legacy, contact Greg Balke, President, Epsilon Zeta Educational Foundation, at 936.577.0289 or e-mail him at gregbalke@yahoo.com.