For the 12th year running a group of devoted fraternity brothers gathered for the Theta Chi Old Farts Party, this year at the home of Barry Wright, Jr. ’72 in Gainesville, Virginia. Theta Chi brothers who graduated between 1965 and 1972 have a weekend of parties and golfing each year at a different person’s home.
Sam Shiplet ’68 is one of the reunion founders. He says, “The idea came to me—and it wasn’t all my idea—after I had gone to my father-in-law’s Squadron reunion; they were all in their 70s and 80s at that time. We went back five years later and half of the guys were gone. I knew that would happen to us eventually and decided we should start getting together.”
Shiplet and his friends put together some simple requirements: “You had to be over 50 and a Hampden-Sydney Theta Chi. You didn’t even have to be a graduate.” Over the years, the age requirement loosened. Attendance varies from year to year, but Shiplet estimates that there are fewer than a dozen Theta Chi brothers who graduated between 1965 and 1972 that have not attended at least one of the reunions.
As it happens, Phil Grabill, Jr. ’71, a well-liked Theta Chi, had died just a few years before the first reunion and the brothers saw the gathering as an opportunity to remember him and to make a collection for the scholarship that had been established in his memory. So far, the Theta Chi Old Farts have given more than $16,000 to the scholarship.
Some of these Theta Chi brothers plan their vacations around this annual affair, which is so eagerly anticipated that arrangements for the next two years’ reunions have already been made. Shiplet says getting together with old friends is a lot of fun and encourages other Hampden-Sydney alumni to try it for themselves.