n November 7-8, 1997, Upsilon Xi celebrated it’s 35th Anniversary as a social service organization and its first on the newly named Lee University campus. The theme for the 35th anniversary was, "Celebrating 35 years of Excellence in Christian Leadership, Service, and Brotherhood." The homecoming weekend greatly exceeded all expectations and will no doubt be remembered in a special way for many years to come.

In preparation for the huge gathering and to ensure the organization and proper execution of all arrangements necessary for this most ambitious celebration, the men of Upsilon Xi wisely formed a 35th anniversary committee under the leadership of Alumni Coordinator Trace Colson and his co-chairman Chad Hall. The members of the committee were Chat Jacobs, Ben Bahnsen, Jeremy Hanrahan, Jeremy Kanadey, Jeremy Holt, Brian Patterson, Josh Hames, Scott Varner It was the hard work of these men along with the fine leadership of the club under President David Scisciani, vice-president J.B. Vanhook, and senior member Tony Robinson who led the club in making the weekend a success for everyone.

This year’s alumni breakfast was by far the most extraordinary gathering in Upsilon’s 35 year history. Over 200 people were in attendance, including more than 125 alumni. Several Church of God state Overseers, dozens of doctors and senior pastors, and a host of miscellaneous success stories gathered to celebrate a heritage of excellence that has not diminished in three and a half decades and will likely bring God glory for many years to come. There were alumni from every decade and time period including a special guest who had not been back to a Upsilon event in some time, Upsilon’s founder Dr. Duran Palmertree.

The turnout at the breakfast was truly alarming as over 125 alumni joined the club in celebrating 35 years of excellence.
Upsilon alumn and current vice-president of Lee University, Dr. Robert Herron, opened the breakfast with a word of prayer, after which a buffet-style breakfast was served. Endless chat and laughter echoed freely through the hall for the first half hour, as several decades of memories were recalled and old friends reminisced and caught on years of lost time. Many of the alumni remarked that they ran into individuals that they had not seen in several decades. The mood was definitely one of joy and fellowship as there were countless testimonies of the goodness and grace of God shown through the lives of the individuals in attendance. Each individual at the banquet received a copy of a "gag" proposed constitution for "the Spokes Club" that was found recently by Mr. Andrew Lee.

The program portion of the banquet, which was MC’d by Trace Colson, was ironically kicked off by a surprise visit from Alpha Gamma Chi alumnus and current Lee University president, Dr. Paul Conn. Dr. Conn thanked the men of Upsilon for their contribution to the campus and honored them for the role they have played in helping make Lee University what it is today.

Dr. Conn began the celebration by expressing thanks and honoring Upsilon's impressive achievement.
"I want you to know something very seriously and that is : as president of Lee these days, and as a part of the Lee community, I cannot tell you how proud I am of this group. We make a lot of the various groups. We’ve got boocoos of groups now, but I have not forgotten 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, when the whole idea of this kind of group was very much suspect. I have not forgotten who got there first. It is a distinction which cannot be matched. This group has had a terrific history for the entire 35 years and I have had an up close and personal view. It is such a pleasure to see Duran Palmertree back who was one of my teachers way back in the good ole’ days and in the earliest days of Upsilon. You just hear about this guy, but let me tell you for those of us who were around, this guy was a force. the earliest days of Upsilon. You just hear about this guy, but let me tell you for those of us who were around, this guy was a force. It is also great to see Bill George back. Bill kept Upsilon moving during some of the lean years, not just for Upsilon, but for the Greek movement at Lee and it is a pleasure to have him back on our campus. He is a valued colleague for many years and a friend and leader of Upsilon"

"This is a great group. And after all of the jokes are over, I admire you greatly. Your tradition, your achievements. . . I think that any guy who has the opportunity to become a part of Upsilon Xi, is a very fortunate man indeed."

Dr. Conn was very well received and appreciated. It was a real thrill to feel the level of respect attributed to Upsilon from a man who represents the administration of Lee University as well as our brothers in Christ from Alpha Gamma Chi.

After Dr. Conn departed, David Scisciani, the current president of Upsilon Xi, presented Alumni Coordinator Trace Colson with a special plaque in appreciation for his hard work in helping put the 35 year anniversary weekend together.

David Scisciani then updated alumni on current events through the traditional "state of the club" address. Dave focused on the role and essential nature of the alumni in building a foundation for the current club to follow.

Trace earned well deserved honors for his leadership and service.

"When I look across this room, I see more pastors, more businessmen, more doctors, more lawyers, more distinguished people, than any other club has. Every single Upsilon alumn I met yesterday was outstanding in some way. We don’t have any mediocrity in this room and I think that’s a characteristic of Upsilon."

Dave then turned his attention to the club’s role on campus, "Upsilon is very diverse. We have guys in every choir, every academic club. They are the leader’s of SGA, they’re the leaders of their sports, Upsilon is pretty much everywhere, and we are leaders everywhere. The last seven male SGA Presidents have been members of Upsilon, the last two campus choir presidents, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Upsilon strives for excellence."

Dave then explained the re-organization of the club, centering around service. He noted that in addition to the many small acts of service that the membership regularly participate in, Upsilon is focusing on completing at least one major act of service a month.

"There is scarcely a week that goes by where I don’t get a call or a note in my box from someone wanting some kind of help or volunteers. I don’t look on it as a nuisance, I look upon it as an honor. They know we will keep delivering."

Peter gave glory to God with his excellent voice

After president Scisciani, former Upsilon vice-president and current Brentwood Records recording artist Peter Penrose performed two songs off his current, self-entitled CD. Peter sang with the contemporary Christian group "Truth" for several years before embarking on a solo career.

Trace Colson had asked one individual, representing each decade, to speak on one of the topics consistent with the theme of the 35th Anniversary. Trace asked his brother, former president and chaplain of Upsilon and current pastor with Park West Church of God in Knoxville, Tennessee to represent the 1990s and speak on the topic of "excellence."

Tony began his speech by talking about how Upsilon’s image changes semester by semester. "Depending on the club’s faces and the decisions of its leadership, its image to the world changes. It’s the marks that all of us make in life, not just those who are in it at the time. . . There are some things about Upsilon that will never change. There is the pride of a young freshman who slips on the black and gray jersey for the first time, there is the brotherhood that endures conflicts, circumstances, and other obstacles, and there is the spirit of competition between black and burgundy, that most likely will never fade. . . and yet there is one other area that has always marked Upsilon, and that is excellence."

Tony defined excellence as, "a person, becoming a person of God." He then pointed out four ways that the club could strive to improve the image of Upsilon through the lives of the club’s membership. The first area was loyalty, the second was going above and beyond the call of duty for your brother, the third was placing the needs of others before yourself, and the fourth was the determination not to give up.

Tony pointed out that, "being a Upsilon man is not always being first, because being excellent is sometimes being last."

"To quit is to die, and that word is not in a Upsilon man’s vocabulary."

Tony ended by encouraging the membership to be men and women of excellence, "for as Upsilon continues, so must excellence.. . . and this spirit of excellence comes from the Creator and Savior Jesus Christ, the most excellent one."

Dr. Keith Jeffords, MD, DDS spoke on the topic of leadership, but was so effected by the brilliant presentation of Mr. Colson that he began his talk by quipping, "wonderful presentation Tony, I’m ready to run down to the alter and give my heart to Upsilon."

Dr. Jeffords epitomizes Christian leadership and thus his speech was quite inspiring

Keith focused on the role each individual plays in ministering the word of God to the world. "I’m here to tell you that are not going into the pulpit ministry or ministry as a profession, that there is a ministry for laypeople out there."

Dr. Jeffords had three major points to his talk. The first was that everyone is an example whether they like it or not. The second was the concept of "club discipleship’ which he summarized as the idea that everyone is responsible for each other and should strive to find the men around them with promise and help them attain the lofty expectations of a Upsilon man. Finally, Keith encouraged the club to tithe their time as well as their finances to God.

Dr. Jeffords concluded by encouraging Upsilon to be more bold in the area of witnessing in the workplace and re-enforced his point by summarizing, "we can’t depend upon the ministers to save the world, it has to start with individual leadership and discipleship in the workplace."

"Being a Upsilon man is an honor, yet an honor we should take with humility."

Mr. Bill George, who was a Lee University faculty member and sponsor of Upsilon for many years, represented the 1960s and spoke on the topic of "service."

Perhaps no one person has been more influential in the continued evolution of Upsilon, than Mr. Bill George.

Bill dedicated much of his talk to reviewing Upsilon’s service to the college through the years.  He mentioned the first several service projects Upsilon engaged in; painting the steps of Medlin Hall (then called Walker Hall) and convincing a congressman to donate a flag to Lee College that had flown over the U.S. Capitol building.

After a brief anecdote about "supercomputers" Mr. George turned his attention to honoring one of Upsilon’s founders, Mr. Duran Palmertree.

"If there is any truth to Emerson’s observation that an institution is the length and shadow of a man. That man is Dr. Palmertree."

Bill returned to the topic of service and mentioned several projects in the first couple of years of Upsilon’s existence. "During the years that followed, Upsilon has always been noted as a club with a heart of service" said Mr. George. For the rest of his talk, Bill reviewed many of the service projects that Upsilon has devoted their time to over the years. They are obviously too many to mention here, but he especially focused on the Love Atlanta Run and the Upsilon Clocktower.

Mr. George concluded by giving glory to God, "God has graced my life by bringing me in to contact with many of you who are among the best friends I will ever have in my life. Thank you for who you are and for your spirit of service.

Rev. Raymond Pettitt, senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Powder Springs, Georgia represented the 1970s and spoke on the topic of brotherhood..

The first portion of Mr. Pettitt’s speech was focused on memories. He recounted several stories of what the club’s membership made the inductees do during the fall 1969 semester which resulted in a good deal of laughter from those in attendance.

"Our brotherhood was not just a brotherhood of things that we did and the service that we had, and the fellowship that we had, but the times of spiritual intercession where we didn’t know what to do or there was a brother that was hurting and we could pray for him. . . We talk about Upsilon and we laugh about some of the things that happened in the early days and all that, but more there is a link of brotherhood. That which is the bond of love, the bond of Christ. And that’s what it is."

Rev. Pettitt has seen consistency in Upsilon over the years due to its development of brotherhood.

"There's a sense of comraderie and that's the heart of what it means to belong to Upsilon. don't ever forget it. You can walk into a room and have been away for a long time and in an instant, it's only been a couple of days, because we share a brotherhood."

Rev. Pettitt spent the middle portion of his message talking about how his son (who was tapped last year) got into Upsilon and how the stories that his son tells him have convinced him how little the essence of Upsilon has changed over the years.

Raymond ended his talk by recounting a story that left no dry eyes in the room. It was the story of Upsilon man Harold Hughes. "Harold was paralyzed from the waist down. He walked with crutches. There in Harold, there was something. There was a commitment, a kindness, a generosity, and a genuineness that Harold had. I remember going to tap him. There was probably no one more shocked than Harold. You see, he may have said at some point that he couldn’t be like the guys who walk around campus in the black blazers. Harold told me later that after we left him on tap night, he just cried, that we would want to have him in the club. . . Let me tell you Harold may have been a small man on the outside, but he was ten feet tall on the inside. . . . (during induction) He got to a part of induction that he spent a while trying to complete, but because of his handicap, he wasn’t able to do."

Raymond suggested to Harold that he should probably skip this particular part of induction and go on to the next. "Harold looked at me as firmly as I think anyone has ever looked at me before and said, "I want to ask you one question. Has every man in Upsilon completed this station?" I said, "Yes." And he said, "Then I’m completing this station." It took him thirty to forty minutes to do something it would take most guys five. When he finished, everyone who was watching him was cheering."

"Let me tell you, that’s brotherhood. That’s the heart of what we are. When someone can still say, after 35 years, has every man done this?. . .and the answer is, we’ve all come by this path."

At the conclusion of Mr. Pettitt's speech, Trace Colson came to the podium to announce the final speaker, Dr. Duran Palmertree. Dr Palmertree was one of the founders of Upsilon and the primary, driving force behind the early club. He was the fist president of Upsilon, serving for a record seven semesters. No president has served for more than two semesters since. Dr. Palmertree had not been back to Lee for over twenty years and had not spoken to anyone in the club for about that long until several months ago.

By far the highlight of the breakfast was hearing our founding father and first president address the current membership.
It wasn't surprising to see Mr. Palmertree receive a standing ovation as he was called to address the club. With the trademark humility that has always characterized him, he immediately started encouraging people to sit and stop clapping.

And then, an eerie silence fell over the room as everyone waited for him to begin. It was as if he was about to impart a new truth to us that we had never heard before. There was an excited, expectation to what he would do that everyone responded to by keeping silent and fixing their eyes and ears on Duran.

Then he began. He had a very understated, yet proficient speaking voice which seemed to elude an immediate sense of sentimentality and nostalgia.

Mr. Palmertree opened with an official sounding acknowledgment of the current and past membership which lasted nearly five minutes. Duran then honored Bill George for his years of service to Upsilon and then discussed the early days of Upsilon in great detail.

"During my second year here, I was beginning to recognize that there was a desire for something out of the ordinary to take place. It was here. We didn’t create it. It was here. It was here with people before you, before me. And it simply needed an avenue of expression, an idea, a direction. And so some of us got together . . .We began to talk about what we should be about. We gave a lot of thought to this. It wasn’t superficial. Our thinking was not spirited. It was not lite. It was very serious. The discussion was sobering. Lite at times but the heart of us, the nucleus of the group, was very serious."

Duran spoke at great length about the early club and what the circumstances were surrounding its formation. Eventually, he made his way to the topic of how they handled the tap. "We never did choose, or select, or tap anyone that I remember during my decade, that had already made it. We couldn’t tap anyone who was a president. They were already us. We couldn’t tap anybody who was vice-president. They were already us. . . (we would tap people because someone) would sell the rest of us that this man has the possibilities. That was the big word. All of the other things being even. And a creative atmosphere in which that person could develop into the person as big as he could possibly develop himself into. . . I don’t know anyone we brought to the group as a recommendation because they had already achieved. "

Then Mr. Palmertree talked about the first meeting and recounted the story of the first Sadie Hawkins. The club had its first meeting on a Wednesday and Duane Lambert suggested doing a Sadie Hawkins day. The only Friday that was open on the social calendar was that same Friday. So the club put it together and in two days pulled it off with tremendous success. "During this time, it was something that I mean just, caught. And we had the four wagons and. . . mules. . .We had such a turnout. We loaded the wagons . . .and we had it off north Lee highway. We had entertainment, we had food, and we were on our way. But, we didn’t know that it couldn’t be done. That’s continued, hasn’t it."

". . . in five years. . .Upsilon Xi had had 73 presidents, vice-presidents of classes, and clubs both religious and academic. 73, and we only had a total membership of 51. That’s you. That’s the kind of people you are made of, that make up the group."

Dr. Palmertree concluded by turning his attention to what lies ahead for Upsilon. He suggested several possible projects all of which were well received. Duran concluded his address after leading the club in a brief prayer of appreciation to God for the third president of Upsilon, his friend, Rev. Alan J. Walker who has gone home to be with the Lord. Rev. Walker is one of two Upsilon men known to be deceased. Duran's complete speech was very touching to the entire membership.

At the conclusion of the speech by Duran, Trace Colson handed out two awards on behalf of the club. The first was given to Mr. Wayne Slocumb. Wayne is a Upsilon alumnus (Fall 1989) who worked extensively on the RSVP mailout that was sent to alumni in October. The membership of the club framed a copy of the mailout and arranged it with the following inscription : "given in brotherhood and service by the men of Upsilon Xi, November 8, 1997."

Dr. Steve Dorman accepted the Distinguished Alumnus Award on behalf of Mark Smiling.

Wayne was honored for his hard work

The second award was the 1997 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award. This year, Upsilon honored Mr. Mark Smiling. Mark was not able to be at the homecoming celebration. Mr Smiling was described as, "A Christian man who serves his family and his church." Mark is an attorney and has twice been named "Prosecutor of the Year" for the state of Oklahoma.

The award was accepted by Dr. Steve Dorman who said, "Those of you who were here with Mark know that he is a man of fine integrity, a man that we all came to love and cherish in our hearts. He is highly deserving of this."

The celebration ended with the recognition of the current sweetheart, Ms. Dawn Schuck. The present membership sang "the sweetheart song" to her (and all of the other past sweethearts who were in attendance) on bended knee, as is customary. After honoring the sweetheart, everyone sang a chorus of the club song, "All Hail to Upsilon." before Dr. Terry Johns concluded the meeting with a word or prayer. And of course, what Upsilon function would be complete without a little hickory!

-Reported by Joe Giove

One of the great joys of Upsilon.
A nice big fatty!!

- More banquet photos
- Photos from Homecoming