Upsilon Xi 50th Anniversary Weekend
Fifty years have passed since the founders of Upsilon Xi dreamed up the concept of a social service, Greek club on the campus of then Lee College, and several of those same members, along with those that came directly after them, were in attendance at several of the four upsilon Xi 50th Anniversary themed celebrations. Joining them at each event was a strong contingent of alumni from each of the decades of Upsilon, along with spouses and kids and extended family. There’s an old saying that goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and this was directly applicable to the entire weekend. The class, dignity, character, and excellence that has exemplified Upsilon Xi from its very start was on full display during each event at Homecoming. And as several special guests and visitors commented after the celebrations had concluded, the “bar has been set awfully high” for other groups and clubs who will plan anniversary celebrations in the future.
The planning for the 50th began in earnest over a year ago. Dr. Duran Palmertree, current President of the Upsilon Xi Alumni Association (UXAA) created a committee to organize and administer the weekend. The committee was chaired by the UXAA Vice-President Bill Winters who did a herculean job of making sure that all of the various events occurred as planned. The committee also included UXAA Treasurer Wayne Slocumb, who’s excellent and hard work was apparent throughout. Wayne designed the logos, the banners, the lapel pins, the programs, and several special plaques, while also keeping the books and working on the Black and Grey. Bill Jaber also put in considerable work trying to identify how many alumni to expect and which events to expect them at. Due to a few challenges beyond anyone’s control it proved quite difficult to keep track of this piece. In addition, the committee included involvement and attendance from Nick Humble, Andrew Lee, Ben Perez, DeWayne Thompson, Bill George, Jeff Sargent, Mark Wickham, Bedford Smith, Harry Sessoms, Dan Boling, and David Blair. All of these individuals put in work on various elements of the weekend and contributed greatly to the success of the event. Others who were also helpful in making the weekend a success included: Dr. Paul Conn, Chris Conine, Jerome Hammond, Kim Brooks, Stephanie Taylor, Esmerelda Lee, Chad Guyton Video Productions, John Potter with iloomination, Ambiance, and Crooms Signs.
The weekend began at a special registration session where the present club set up a booth next to Lee’s registration. Upsilon alumni were given a special crest by the club to commemorate the 50th Anniversary. The crest is identical to the normal crest, but replaced the “Lee University” on the bottom banner with “50th Anniversary,” with “1962” and “2012” on the left and right banner tails. Many members and alumni spent considerable time at registration as it’s a great place to run into people you haven’t seen in a while.
The first official event on the agenda was the morning breakfast. The event was held in the Grand Room on the second floor of the new Science and Math Complex. Attendance at the breakfast was significant with approximately 300 taking part. Alumni Coordinator Stephen Buchanan started the event off with a brief welcome before the opening prayer was given by current Upsilon Chaplain and former President Blake Ray. After the meal had concluded, current President Ethan Martin gave the annual “State of the Club” address. President Martin broke with tradition somewhat and did not focus his address primarily on the activities that the club was doing. He chose instead to focus on the quality and character of the current members. President Martin attempted to summarize each member’s strengths with a one sentence description. The alumni were quite impressed with each description that highlighted the quality individuals who presently carry on the Upsilon legacy.
President Martin ceded the floor to the current UXAA president, Dr. Duran Palmertree. Dr. Palmertree was very gracious in his remarks and spoke about how much Upsilon Xi has meant to him over the years. Dr. Palmertree specifically called up Dr. James Hubbard and asked him to say a few words as well. Dr. Hubbard gave honor to Dr. Palmertree as the one that made sure that Upsilon Xi was firmly started in the early/mid 1960s. As Dr. Hubbard stated, the students over that period came and went, but somewhat had to instruct them during that formative time as to what Upsilon was and what its standards were. Dr. Palmertree was that man.
After Dr. Palmertree and Dr. Hubbard concluded their comments, UXAA Treasurer Wayne Slocumb presented an update on the current financial standing of the UXAA. Mr. Slocumb reported the numbers and also chose to honor two men who helped with the financial elements of the 50th. The first was former UXAA Treasurer Nick Humble. Mr. Humble had diligently kept the books for the 13 years before Wayne took over in 2011. Through Mr. Humble’s diligence, hard work, and efforts to insist that dues are paid on time, there was money available to get the 50th effort started and to make early financial commitments that needed to be made. The second honoree was Former UXAA President Joe Giove, who led the fundraising on the Arch project. Upsilon agreed to contribute $25,000 to Lee University for the 50th Anniversary Arch. However, almost $35,000 was collected. Thus, the organizing committee chose to use some of that money to pay for other parts of the 50th Anniversary celebration. After all of the commitments had been made, enough money remained to ensure the UXAA remains in a strong financial position in the future. In appreciation for their service, both men were given a framed picture of the various service projects that Upsilon Xi had completed over the years.
Upsilon alumni and current 3-term Tennessee (District) 24 State Representative Kevin Brooks came to the podium to share a significant proclamation. On March 12, 2012, a congratulatory Joint Resolution was ratified in the Tennessee State House of Representatives and concurred upon by the State Senate. The resolution (complete text can be found here) recalls the various successes and accomplishments of Upsilon Xi, and applauds Upsilon as an “organization that is value-based and intrinsically driven to develop character and moral fortitude among young men and women won are our nation’s spiritual, governmental, and societal leaders in waiting. . .”. The proclamation will forever be a part of Tennessee State records as House Joint Resolution #725 in the 107th Tennessee General Assembly. The proclamation was proposed by Representative Kevin Brooks and Senator Mike Bell, and was signed by Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey, and Governor Bill Haslam.
After Mr. Slocumb’s presentation, Bill Winters presented the annual Upsilon XI Alumnus of the Year Award to Dr. Duran Palmertree. For whatever reason, in the 27 year history of the award it had never been given to Dr. Palmertree. This particular year, more than any other, was the most fitting to recognize Duran. Without Dr. Palmertree’s bold vision in 1962 and his countless hours of hard work, prayers, and tears, the organization never would have made it to that day. Dr. Palmertree was overcome with emotion, as were several others, and could only say a few words including, “thank you.”
The club next recognized those Sweethearts and Little Sisters who were in attendance. Each of them was asked to come to the front of the room. The current club then all got down on one knee and serenaded the ladies with a rendition of the “Sweetheart Song.” After this was complete, the meeting ended with the entire group singing the club song together. The 50th Anniversary Breakfast was the most memorable and special breakfast Upsilon had produced yet.
Once the breakfast had concluded, a special procession was formed to “March to the Arch.” As the Lord sent people out “two by two,” Upsilon preceded likewise. Dr. Palmertree and Dr. Hubbard were the first two, and the newest members of the current club solidified the back. The procession was strong and significant and stretched from the Science and Math Complex, through the Upsilon Xi Clocktower, and then down to the Arch.
The Arch Dedication was the second event at the 50th Anniversary. Upsilon Xi and its Alumni Association began working with Lee in the Spring of 2011 on an Arch project in celebration of its 50th Anniversary. Originally, two arches were proposed, but it was later agreed that one would be more fitting and appropriate for the occasion. Upsilon’s contribution to the project would be to raise $25,000. Fundraising began in earnest in mid-July 2011 and in just two and a half months; the milestone was reached (eight months ahead of schedule). The location and design of the Arch was chosen by the Lee University Administration. Lee chose a site between the Science and math Complex and Tennis facilities, at the northernmost head of the Church Street Pedestrian Mall. The location selected including a building formerly used by Lee’s counseling services that had to be torn down, which somewhat delayed construction. However, construction on the Arch began in August 2012 and was completed well before the Homecoming weekend. Lee University named the arch: the “North Gate Arch,” and a plaque on each column honors the contributions of Upsilon Xi as well as the individual donors who contributed to the project.
The Arch Dedication began with a Welcome from President Martin followed by a prayer from Chaplain Ray. Lee University Vice President for Administration Walt Maudlin received the gift on behalf of the Lee Administration and made several gracious statements about his respect for Upsilon. He mentioned that his son is a member of Upsilon and that he has seen Upsilon honor the Lord through the years. His comments were very warmly received by those in attendence.
After Dr. Mauldin’s address, Dr. Palmertree said some words. He drew attention to the fact that Upsilon Xi began 50 years ago within eyesight of where the Arch now stands. It was on a picnic table in front of Walker hall (now named Medlin Hall) where he and the other three founders began to create the structure of Upsilon.Dr. Palmertree drew attention to the fact that Upsilon survived through great odds. Because of the grade point average requirement that was placed in the first Upsilon Constitution, nearly half of the club became ineligible after the first semester and had to be suspended. Yet, Upsilon did recover and survive, never compromising their standards to this day. Dr. Palmertree went on to state how proud he was of how Upsilon has turned out. Although the Arch physically stands a mere football field away from where the club got its start, it can be said that Upsilon has come a long way in 50 years.
Towards the end of Dr. Palmertree’s remarks, he asked former UXAA President Joe Giove to join him on the podium and thanked him for spearheading the efforts to raise money for the Arch. He invited Mr. Giove to say a few words, but he graciously declined. After Dr. Palmertree concluded, the litany of dedication was read by former sponsor of Upsilon Dr. Bill George (the full text can be found here: Litany of Dedication). Once the litany was read, a closing prayer was offered by Upsilon alum and Chairman of the Lee University Board of Directors Gary Sharp.
After the closing prayer, the ribbon was cut by current UXAA President Palmertree. The ribbon was held by representatives from the UXAA (former Presidents Joe Giove and David Blair, current Vice-President Bill Winters, current Treasurer Wayne Slocumb), the present club (current President Ethan Martin, and Bill George), and the Lee Administration (Vice-President Dr. Walt Maudlin). The “North Gate” Arch, will serve for many years to come as an ongoing reminder of God’s faithfulness to the men and women of Upsilon Xi.
Shortly after the Arch dedication, the men of Upsilon Xi tapped Dr. Bill George as an “Honorary Member.” Dr. George has had ties to Upsilon for many years, serving as a sponsor during several periods from the early 1970s through 2009. Dr. George is also credited with defending Upsilon during several periods when Upsilon Xi (and the Greek movement as a whole) had come under attack at Lee. Tapping Dr. George as an “honorary member” was long overdue, and there were many congratulations directed his way during the rest of the weekend (for an in-depth story on Honorary Members tapped at Homecoming, follow this link).
The Basketball Game
Upsilon Xi alumni were given special seating at the men’s basketball game, which was held at Paul Dana Walker Arena. At halftime, special recognition was given to the club and all members were asked to stand. Those members of Upsilon who were athletes during their years at Lee were asked to come to the center of the court for a special ceremony honoring Paul Dana Walker. Paul Dana Walker was a Upsilon man and star basketball player for the Flames from 1974-1978. During his senior season, Paul was tragically killed in a traffic accident and went home to be with the Lord well before his time. His jersey has been retired, and he has been honored in the Lee Athletics Hall of fame, as well as having the arena named in his honor. Surrounded by fellow Upsilon athletes at center court, current Lee Athletics Director and Upsilon alum Larry Carpenter, presented a bouquet of roses to the widow of Paul Dana Walker, Ms. Julia Walker Crews. For those familiar with her story, it was an emotional affair.
The third event of the 50th was a formal banquet held at the Devos Recreation Center. The scale of the dinner was very impressive, with a final turnout numbering over 400 persons. The food was contracted to “Ambiance” who did a superior job meeting the needs of the diners, and will certainly be called upon again in the future for similar events.
The program began with a welcome from Bill Winters followed by an address from Dr. Paul Conn. Dr. Conn was very gracious in his remarks and commented how proud he was of Upsilon Xi. Dr. Conn noted that the Greek movement at Lee has been under a degree of suspicion from the very start, and has gone through periods of suspicion ever since. However, Dr. Conn conceded that Upsilon Xi had “made a strong case and argument” for the contributions Greek clubs can make to a university such as Lee.
After Dr. Conn’s address, a prayer was offered and a buffet dinner was enjoyed by those in attendance. After dinner, the club watched a series of excellent videos. The videos contained various clips from interviews conducted over the past few months, and highlighted different elements that were important to the Upsilon experience. Each video was several minutes long. The videos were of tremendously high quality and were put together by Mr. Chad Guyton (if the videos can be acquired in the future, they will be added to this article). Between each video there was a speaker who would highlight the importance of that aspect of the club.
The first video was on the founding of Upsilon, and contained interviews with Dr. Palmertree and Dan Boling. After the video, Dr. Palmertree shared a few reflections on how Upsilon was founded, and how it has survived for 50 years. After his remarks, the three Founders of Upsilon in attendance (Dr. Palmertree, Rev. Hubbard, and Richard Goodman were honored with specially designed Bulova watches that were adorned with the Upsilon Crest, and a custom throw blanket weaved with a picture of the first group of Upsilon.
The next video was in honor of those Upsilon members who had gone home to be with the Lord. Mark Wickam delivered a stirring request that as the video played, members should stand if they knew the deceased. It was very emotional over the next few minutes as photos were flashed on the screen every thirty seconds or so, and members would rise and fall as those we’ve lost appeared and disappeared. Once the video was complete, Mr. Wickam led the club in a moment of silence for all those who have fallen.
Bill Jaber and Andrew Lee presented a tribute to those who have served Upsilon over the years as sponsors. Andrew Lee was particularly humorous in his approach, as he led with the statement, “you might be a sponsor if. . .” before completing the sentence with various sentiments of “worries” and “anxieties.” All those who had served as sponsors over the years were asked to stand and received a round of appreciative applause.
Bill Winters led the club in recognizing those who have served in the office of President and asked all those in attendance to join him on stage. 24 of the 58 living Upsilon Presidents (>41%) were at the celebration. Bill made special mention that there is a certain responsibility that comes with the Presidency that is unique, and that the quality of men that Upsilon has been blessed with to hold that office over the years has been exceptional. All of the Presidents in attendance were honored for their special service to Upsilon.
Former Little Sister Stephanie (Lewis) Taylor) and Current Sweetheart Ali Arbogast were the next two who came to the microphone. Ms. Taylor spoke on what it meant to her to be a little sister in Upsilon. On behalf of all the little sisters over the years, Ali and Stephanie thanked the men of Upsilon for inviting them to be "part of their world." Next, all of the past Sweethearts and Little Sisters were invited to join them on the stage. Each one was presented with roses as they walked on the stage.
Once they were all assembled, the entire club rose and serenaded the ladies with the Upsilon Sweetheart Song.
After another excellent video, Bill Winters asked the early members of Upsilon to join him on the left side of the stage, while the leaders of the current club were invited to stand on the right side of the stage. Speaking on behalf of the early members of Upsilon, Bill stated poignantly to the current club that Lee “used to be our playground,” but that the future belonged to these new members. Bill challenged the current club to make the next 50 years even more successful then the first 50. This “passing of the mantle” from one generation to the next was a fitting way to conclude the program. As attention now turns to the next half-century of Upsilon, it began with the entire club joining together in unity while singing the club song.
Sunday Morning Chapel Service
The final event of the 50th celebration was a praise and worship service held at the new Lee Chapel. The Chapel was officially dedicated at Lee University's Homecoming in 2011 and has already become one of the most significant fixtures of the campus. The organization of the service was the primary responsibility of Ben Perez and Dr. Bill Green who both put a tremendous amount of work into the event and did a phenomenal job. The speakers who were recruited for the event were all Upsilon members or alumni (or at least would be before the end of the day - more on that later). The order of events at the chapel service went as followed:
The scripture lesson was taken from several verses in Galatians 5 and 6: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. . .You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. . .Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. . .Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. . .May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Mr. Williams accepted this honor and President Martin handed him a
Upsilon Xi Crest and welcomed him to the club.
After receiving this honor, Mr. Williams gave a few remarks.
Mr. Williams recounted that he wanted to be a member of Upsilon when he
was a student and that he was tapped by Upsilon in 1984.
He was a roommate of Jeff Sargent at the time, and Jeff was in Upsilon.
However, a couple months before he was tapped, he had received and
accepted the call of God upon his life to be an Evangelist.
All of his energies at the time were in preparing to serve God in this
capacity. Thus, he wrote a letter to
the President at the time stating that he would not be
able to accept Upsilon’s offer and that he would have to decline. Mr.
Williams mentioned that not being a part of Upsilon was perhaps his only regret
from his time at Lee. It was greatly rewarding to
Mr. Williams mentioned that not being a part of Upsilon was perhaps his only regret from his time at Lee. It was greatly rewarding tosee Upsilon erase this regret, and to accept Mr. Williams into its membership. While it only took 28 years to finally get a "yes," it was well worth the wait (for an in-depth story on Honorary Members tapped at Homecoming, follow this link).
The conclusion of the service included the serving of Communion. This portion of the service was led by the former General Director of Church of God World Missions, Doug Leroy. Those who were in attendance commented that this portion of the service was particularly meaningful, to have so many Upsilon men and women from several different eras of history taking communion together in unity and thankfulness. After communion was complete, the chapel service concluded with a closing prayer from Duran Palmertree.
The events surrounding the 50th Anniversary Weekend were a tremendous success in large part because of the efforts of the UXAA 50th Anniversary Planning Committee, and the hard work of many men devoted to the cause. However, the success of the first 50 years can only be attributed to the grace and kindness of Almighty God to the membership of Upsilon Xi. As each man and woman have aspired to "Do All to the Glory of God," His favor has been obviously and markedly upon them. A firm foundation has been laid, and a sturdy structure has been built upon it. The membership of Upsilon Xi give all praise to the Lord for what has come before, and greatly anticipate what is yet to come - All Hail to Upsilon, Steadfast and Strong!!!!