Annual Reunion of 1950s Tekes To End in May After 63 years

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Seven Fraters started a grand Pi- TKE 60 year tradition of reuniting each year at Wildwood Crest, NJ when Fury Feraco '54 invited his TKE brothers to his place at the beach for a pre-graduation weekend.  This group and many more from the 1950s era gather for two and three days with their TKE brothers, wives, children, and grandchildren to enjoy great times together.  Pictured seated in front left to right: Jay Murphy '54, Dave Jones '54.  Standing left to right: Fury Feraco '54, Don Taylor '54, Gerry Gillispie '55, Jack Pinezich 55, Darrell Ray '55.

We sing a toast to TKE, her honor we'll uphold.....

By David R. Jones ‘54

On the third of  June in 1954, seven brothers from Penn State’s Pi chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon  and their dates----six “coeds” and an ”import”---gathered to celebrate graduation at a beach party in Wildwood, New Jersey.  Since then, these brothers, and those from a wider range of Fifties classes, have met every year at Wildwood for a reunion.   But with advancing age taking its toll, the brothers now have decided to go out with a bang rather than a whimper at their 63rd---and final---Wildwood reunion on May 23 and 24.

Over the years since 1954, the annual Wildwood reunion became an iconic event not only for those original participants, but for many other Penn State Tekes from the classes of the FIfties who have enlarged the group over the years. The smallest attendance apparently came in the years immediately after graduation, when most of us were in military service.

The host for the first reunion, and all of those since, has been Fury Feraco, a Wildwood resident whose parents owned apartments at Atlantic Avenue and Cresse and generously offered them to the Tekes for the weekend----separated by sex, of course.   When we arrived at Wildwood, the oceanfront was open and endless, marred by few motels.  If only we had bought real estate!  

The only known written record of that first reunion apparently exists in notes in pencil on the back of a picture postcard by Sally Gillispie, who listed the names of the 14 “kids” attending: Fury Feraco and Faith Gallagher, Gerry Gillispie and Sally McKnight, Dave Jones and Mary Lee Lauffer, Jay Murphy and Norma Vollmer, Jack Pinezich and Barbara Easter, Darrell Ray and Nancy Ward, and Don Taylor and Evelyn Welsmann--- the import.  (Five of those couples later married).   Sally’s notes record an 11 pm arrival on Thursday, a trip to Cape May and beach party on Friday, more beach time and a boardwalk visit on Saturday, and church on Sunday.

Over the ensuing years, many happy reunion days were spent walking the beach, riding the waves, flying kites, playing bocce, golfing, visiting Cape May, enjoying the boardwalk, and reminiscing about the great days at 346 East Prospect Avenue.  And for decades we have celebrated, at Fury’s waterfront home on Delaware Bay, with wonderful dinners, topped by Fury’s fabulous home-made desserts. There was a time a decade or so ago when Tekes were bringing not only their children, but their grandchildren, to the reunion.  

We have had brothers come to the reunion over the years from at least 14 different states:  Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Mexico, Florida, and California---even Idaho.  In 2004, twenty-two brothers and 16 partners came from 10 states to attend the 50th reunion.  Three years ago, at the 60th reunion, 20 brothers and 17 partners appeared from eight states.  

We are quieter these days than when we were students at Penn State.  Needless to say, over the years, our activities have slowed down.   There is still some golf and walking on the beach, but more time is spent in the pool, or sitting around its edge reminiscing.   Bedtimes are earlier, and attendance is a bit smaller----last year ten brothers and nine partners came from five states.   But it is safe to say that our friendships have deepened as we have watched the decades go by. 

The Wildwood beach party is a reflection of an abiding bond among these Tekes over more than 60 years, as we have all grown from singles to young marrieds to parents and grandparents.  And after all this time, we still stay in touch, cross paths in life, and gather on occasions both happy and sad.  A ritual that is testimony to our salad days at TKE.

Celebrating their 50th reunion with a group photo following their annual dinner at the
home of Fury Feraco ’54, near Wildwood Crest, NJ.

 

Kneeling left to right: Jack Gruber ’56, Wyomissing, PA, Fury Feraco ’54, Villas, NJ, Walt
Cron ’56, Chocowinity, NC, Gerry Gillispie ’55, Bethlehem, PA, Don Taylor ’54, Parkton,
MD, Bob Franks, ’56, Parkton, MD, Frank Hills ’55, Camp Hill, PA.

 

Standing left to right: Art Bates ’56, Chesapeake, VA., Andy Zerban ’55, Traverse City, MI,
Darrell Ray ’55, Nashville, TN, Fran Taylor ’56, Horsham, PA, Richard Schuler ’54, De Leon
Springs, FL, Jack Pinezich ’55 Northport LI, NY, Gene Shue ’56, York, PA, Bill Lysinger ’54,
Palm Coast, FL, Ted Hardy ’53, Springtown, PA, Jack Hartman ’57, Pittsburgh, PA, Tom
Hahn ’53, Reading, PA, Dave Jones ’54, Montclair, NJ, Duane Buck ’55 Newtown, PA.

Since the 1954 Tekes were in the house during the ten consecutive years that Pi chapter won the Interfraternity Council sing, it should be no surprise the reunion always ends with an off-key, yet robust and emotional, singing of Penn State songs----those we used to sing for the girls at pinnings and at the women’s dorms during freshman orientation—and including the beloved Teke Toast:

We sing a toast to TKE, her honor we’ll uphold.

The fellowship that we enjoy, we value more than gold.

The love we hold for TKE in words cannot be told.

So let us honor her tonight, the cherry, grey uphold.

…..and so we have.

For further information on this year's reunion, contact Frater Jack Gruber '56 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 610.927.4666