Alumni Spotlights

A Valuable Contribution
Campaign Co-Chairman Encourages Gifts of All Sizes

After a discussion with Eddie Keith ’67, it became clear to Turner Wingo ’64 that their undergraduate years were bettered through the generosity of alumni. Living in the chapter house taught Turner how to get along with a diverse group of people and is a trait he used during basic training in the Army and life after college. Reflecting on his own Pike experience, Turner was motivated to contribute to the campaign and serve as co-chairman of the A Legendary Past, Ensuring Our Future capital campaign with Eddie. “We had the best of everything through no effort of our own, but by the dedication and work of those who came before us,” he said. “I knew it was my time to help carry some of the load.

Turner considers himself fortunate that he was able to contribute a lead gift, but reminds alumni of a parable from the Bible about giving. In Mark 12:41-44, a crowd of people offered money to the temple treasury. Jesus watched the many rich people throw in large amounts and a poor widow give her few pennies. Although it was not much, the widow gave the greatest gift of all because she gave all that she had. “It is not the size of the gift, it is about the value of what we had at Gamma Theta, what we still have, and for those yet to come,” he said.

Turner is a retired Tennessee businessman and was named Mississippi State’s 2016 National Alumnus of the Year. He had a successful career as a longtime proprietor of Sherry’s Hallmark and is a member of the MSU Foundation’s board of directors. Along with his contributions to Gamma Theta, Turner has also provided support for scholarships, and endowed professorship, campus facilities, and athletic programs. Turner lives in Starkville, Miss., and can be reached at tawingo@msn.com.

 



Pay It Forward

Paul Snider ’88 Donates to Help Shape Future Pikes

Reflecting on his years at Mississippi State University, Paul Snider ’88 is proud of his membership in Pi Kappa Alpha. The mixture of campus leaders, varsity athletes, and diverse members made him proud to be a part of the best fraternity on campus. “I have a great deal of pride in being a Pike from MSU,” he said.

Paul held several offices during his undergraduate years and was also one of two members to serve on the Supreme Council for the national fraternity during his senior year. Through Gamma Theta, Paul developed leadership skills and learned how to build and foster relationships. The skills he learned during his collegiate years he uses today as a senior vice president and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley. “The fraternity experience was a tremendous help,” he said. “I learned how to get along with different people, lead, and recruit new members. These skills certainly translated over to business.”

Grateful for the experience he had, Paul donated to Gamma Theta’s capital campaign to pay it forward and thank the fraternity that helped shape him. Although he has not had the chance to visit the chapter house, Paul has heard it looks fantastic and hopes the improvements will help continue successful recruitments. “I think a better facility always has a positive impact on the active chapter,” he said. “Recruitment is the lifeblood of any fraternity. One exceptional class can really make a positive difference.”

Paul and his wife, Sherie, have three boys: Paul Jr., Joe, and Pete. Paul enjoys spending time with his family and watching his boys’ sporting activities. He has been in the financial services industry for nearly 25 years, 20 of those in Pensacola, Fla., where he grew up. Paul lives in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and can be reached at paul.snider@morganstanley.com.

 



Alumnus Donates Challenge Gift to Gamma Theta
Frankie Box ’68 Encourages All Alumni to Contribute

frankieFrankie Box ’68 intentionally waited until his sophomore year to join a fraternity. He wanted to ensure he joined the best fraternity both on campus and for himself. Since pledging, Frankie has gained a since of pride knowing he made the right decision by joining Pi Kappa Alpha. “What a blessing from God it has been being a member of Pi Kappa Alpha all these years,” he said.

To give back to the fraternity that brought him leadership skills and lifelong friendships, Frankie contributed a challenge gift to the A Legendary Past, Ensuring Our Future capital campaign. He believes that donating directly affects the ability for undergraduates to make Gamma Theta the number one fraternity on Mississippi State’s campus. Although the campaign had a solid base, Frankie knew it needed more.

“Ever since the day we pledged and walked up Gamma Theta’s steps, Pi Kappa Alpha has served as a special gathering place for us,” he said. “Now, each of us has the opportunity to give back and make a difference that will keep pledges climbing those same steps for years to come. It’s only money—love above all!”

Frankie visits campus and Gamma Theta often, as he does business in the area and enjoys visiting fellow alumni. He believes the undergraduate chapter has what it takes to be the best fraternity on campus and encourages alumni to donate to the campaign and visit the beautiful, renovated chapter house.

“Being a Pi Kappa Alpha at MSU influenced our careers, taught us what real friendships were, and, for so many of us, helped form the men we are today. This renovated chapter house campaign is our opportunity to make sure young men have a chance to create their own memories and make lifelong friendships just like we alumni have,” he said.

Since the 70s, Frankie has attended alumni gatherings at least twice a year. What started as an annual canoe trip, turned rafting trip, has become yearly duck hunting and fishing trips for the group. Although more socializing gets done than actual hunting and fishing, Frankie finds the trips as a nice way to get together outside of ball games and tailgates.

During his time as an undergraduate, Frankie’s favorite memory was living in a big house with a big family under one big roof. He enjoyed developing friendships with people who had different backgrounds than him and building relationships with his brothers. As for current graduates, he advises them to discover the importance of volunteerism and promptness. “My advice is short and simple,” he said. “First, show up. Second, step up. This is applicable in all aspects of life.”

Today, Frankie uses the money and relationship skills he learned as treasurer and chapter president in his professional career. Frankie is the Resident Vice President/Branch Manager for EMC Insurance Companies in the regional Mississippi office. He wholesales commercial property, casualty, and life insurance to independent insurance agencies in Louisiana and Mississippi. In his free time, Frankie enjoys reading, exercising, playing cards, and buying, selling and trading real estate. Frankie has one son, Ben. He and his wife, Trish, reside in Madison County, Miss. Frankie can be reached at frankiebox@bellsouth.net.


Joshua D. Lunn ’03 Named Young Alumnus of the Year
2007 Graduate Develops App for Military and First Responders

joshFor the past decade, Joshua D. Lunn ’03 has been developing software, and in 2013 he became a co-founder of Kopis Mobile. The business designs and manufactures apps and app-enabled equipment for soldiers and first responders.

“I met a group of guys who shared a similar passion as I did. We all wanted to build products and solve problems for people that we admire, so we started Kopis Mobile.”

Josh’s work with Kopis Mobile was one of the many reasons he was chosen as Young Alumnus of the Year. Although Josh is honored to have been chosen for the award, he believes he was in good company, as everyone involved has been doing great things to promote the image of Pi Kappa Alpha.

“It is difficult to do anything on your own, so build relationships with anyone you can,” he advises undergraduates. “Understand that anything worth having in life will take hard work and dedication. So set a goal, get motivated, and persevere until you reach that goal.”

When Josh first joined Pike, he appreciated the secrecy and pride the brothers of Gamma Theta had for the fraternity. Some of his favorite memories were sitting on the front porch and playing pick-up games on the sports court. Josh had the opportunity to visit the chapter house a few years back and is excited for the new renovation. Since he has moved back to Mississippi, he hopes to become more involved with the active chapter and would like to help the chapter receive the Smythe Award in the future.

Josh and his wife, Alyson, have been married for four years. In his limited free time, he enjoys golfing and fishing. Josh can be reached at Joshua.d.lunn@gmail.com.


Dan Camp ’61 and the Cotton District
Bringing His Vision to Life

dan campThere have been many words used to describe Dan Camp ’61: driven, creator, community visionary. For years, Dan has been involved with developing student housing and a new community in Starkville, Mississippi.

Dan graduated with a degree in education and became a teacher in Vicksburg, teaching shop to eighth grade students. After four years, he was summoned to teach at Mississippi State and has been in the area ever since. While he was at the university he saw that there was a need for a student housing area close to campus. The Cotton District, at the time, was a slum, but Dan saw potential in the area. Beginning in 1969, Dan has designed and built housing in the Cotton District of Starkville, doing what he describes as incremental development; Dan buys properties and over a period of years gives life to his designs. More than 47 years later, his classically styled architecture and community vision is well-known. “My work is my hobby. I love to create unique places, livable spaces. It has been fun to build an entire neighborhood.”

The Cotton District is not the only area of Starkville that has benefitted from Dan’s vision. He was involved in the first renovation of the Gamma Theta house 20 years ago. Dan took the resources available and gave life to the vision he had for the chapter house—and he proudly shares that he came in right on budget. The columns on the front of the house were named for the chapter’s previous housemother, Mrs. Claiborne, whom Dan was close to during his time in the chapter.

Being a Starkville resident, Dan has seen Gamma Theta appear in the newspaper for their good work in the community. He advises that the undergraduates create a vision for the future they want. “It’s important to set goals for yourself; long-term goals for where you want to be in life and short-term goals to get you there. I’ve been proud to achieve many of my long-term goals sooner than I anticipated because I planned for the future.”

Dan fondly recalls his time as an undergraduate in the Gamma Theta house. They had a great housemother, a magnificent house, and a strong brotherhood. As he remembers, every Saturday morning, Earl, the house cook, would make blueberry pancakes and Dan would sit and talk with Mrs. Claiborne. The years that he spent making memories in Pike helped him become the man he is today.

Dan and his wife, Gemma, live in Starkville. He has been able to pass on his vision and work to his sons, Robert and Bonn. Read more about the development of the Cotton District at www.cottondistrictms.com.


 

A Lifetime of Brotherhood
Rodger Johnson ’67 is Grateful for Gamma Theta Bonds

Rodger JohnsonYears ago Rodger Johnson ’67 devised a system for identifying priorities in his life that he calls the Four F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, and Fitness. He chuckles when he notes that as he grows older, the Fitness priority is becoming a bigger challenge. He seems to be doing okay—at age 50 he ran his first marathon, and at age 60 he completed his first triathlon.

The brothers of Pi Kappa have helped him fulfill his Friendship priority. Largely through the efforts of Eddie Keith ’67, who provides updates through an extensive alumni email network, Pikes from his era are able to stay connected. His Gamma Theta brothers have been there for him through many of life’s major milestones. “When my mother passed away last year at the age of 93, 10 of our fraternity brothers came in from separate states to support my brother, Andy ’69, and me at the funeral. These are friendships that are there for your whole life.”

Rodger participates in an annual duck hunt in St. Charles, Arkansas, with Gamma Theta alumni. The event is held as a memorial for Brother Tommy Anderton ’67, who passed away in 2002. It started as a small group and has grown into a social gathering (“not as many duck hunters as there used to be”) with numbers nearing 50. “Guys from other fraternities often tell us it’s amazing that we still get together and that we continue to have an interest in each other’s lives,” Rodger said. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity that the brotherhood provides and something that I hope the current members of the chapter realize; they are making friends for life.”

One of Rodger’s favorite memories of his time in the chapter is Christmas Open House. “You would never believe that a group of 18- to 21-year-old kids could put together an event like this. It was the social highlight of the year for the community. Everybody in town hoped to get an invitation to the Pike Christmas Party and rub shoulders with the Mississippi State University President, Starkville political leaders, and Pi Kappa Alpha alumni.” All the details were meticulously labored over by the chapter members to create an experience to be remembered—tuxedos, beautiful flowers, elaborate silver serving pieces, tasty holiday food (including a whole roasted pig complete with an apple in his mouth), and much, much more. “I recall going into the woods to cut tons of greenery and hanging it for decorations in the house. My mom and dad came over each year and were always blown away by the event.”

Rodger has been impressed by the work ethic of Gamma Theta since day one. He admits that he was ambivalent about the Greek experience going into recruitment his freshman year, but was moved by the drive and motivation in the members. Many of the brothers held campus leadership positions (among them was the Student Association President), we won the inter-fraternity athletic championship, and we maintained the most beautiful chapter house on campus. “They worked hard during recruitment to show me why Pi Kappa Alpha was the best fit for me. I was impressed.”

When asked to offer advice to today’s actives, Rodger says he would tell them the same thing he tells his employees: “Word hard, have fun, and stay humble. It sounds like a cliché, but you really do get out of something what you put into it. In my opinion, most of the leaders in society today have a fraternity background. The brothers of Gamma Theta have a wonderful opportunity in front of them.”

Rodger graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and began a 13-year career with AT&T. He was strongly influenced by the company’s management development program. He earned his MBA attending classes at night and on weekends while working full time. In 1984 he decided it was time to “scratch an entrepreneurial itch” and left the big corporate cocoon to do his own thing. He has worked with struggling small businesses and startups in the application software and communications industries, turning a number of them into meaningful successes. He has sold or taken several businesses public and currently serves as CEO of JKC Holdings, Inc., a private investment firm. An active member of many corporate and non-profit Boards of Directors, Rodger says “I don’t know if I’ll ever really retire.”

Gamma Theta had a large impact on Rodger’s career path by teaching him how to get along with a diverse group of people working toward a common goal. From the fraternity, he also learned leadership techniques, social skills, and built confidence in himself. “You had a lot of people that believed in you and you believed in them,” he said. “Even to this day, I’d say that the fraternity had a great deal of influence on the path that my life took after college.”

Rodger and his wife, Jill, have been happily married for 44 years. “She used to come over to the fraternity house and play cards with the guys. She was a member of our Dream Girl Court and remains the love of my life after all these years,” Rodger said. The couple lives in Sandy Springs, GA, and has two daughters and seven grandchildren. You can contact Rodger at rodgerjohnson66@gmail.com.


 

Alumnus Maintains Pike Connections Despite Distance
Spotlight on Niles Withers ’66

Niles WithersAlthough his career has taken Niles Withers ’66 far from Mississippi, his loyalty to Gamma Theta remains strong. Living in Malaysia, Niles is the owner of an oil and gas company that provides offshore crane services in South East Asian and the Middle East.

Pike brothers who majored in petroleum engineering were helpful to Niles as he got his start in the field. He also worked in the Gulf of Mexico during the summers while working on his B.S. in accounting.

During his time in the chapter, Niles served as assistant pledge master for initiation. He was grateful for the guidance of Jim Smith ’63. “He was my pledge master and from humble beginnings, like me. He taught me that it didn’t matter where you came from, but how you handled yourself,” Niles said.

Some of Niles’ favorite moments with his brothers include the parties, sporting events, and simply hanging out at the house together. “Christmas Open House was always very special as we had our parents and all the faculty and administration from the University attend,” he said.

Distance keeps Niles from visiting often, but he stays up to date on chapter happenings through The Fireman newsletter and correspondence with friends like Eddie Keith ’67 and George Sherman ’70. Niles enjoys catching up with Gamma Theta brothers on his trip to the U.S. each spring.

Keeping in touch with Pike is important to Niles, and he encourages both the actives and alumni to try to do so. To alumni he says, “Take the time to contact the chapter and get acquainted with the current members.” He also hopes that the undergraduates will “enjoy every day, study hard, and stay in touch with your brothers after you are gone.”

Niles lives in Malaysia with his wife, Natcha Rattanawan, who is from Thailand. He has six children and seven grandchildren. He hopes that his young son, Wesley, and grandsons will aspire to be Pikes when they go to college. Niles enjoys playing golf, sailing, gourmet cooking, and reading, especially John Grisham novels. You can contact him at nilesjerry@gmail.com.

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Gamma Theta House Corporation Mississippi State University, P.O. Box 1043, Starkville, MS 39760
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