Chapter Eternal – Robert Wiley Lavender ‘54 – 1932 – 2013

Robert Lavender

Robert Wiley Lavender, age 81, of Douglas, died Thursday, September 26, 2013, at Holland Hospital after a lengthy battle with lung-related issues.Robert was born on February 10, 1932, to parents, Earl and Sears Lavender of Christopher, IL. He served his country in the U.S. Army from 1951-1957. Following his service he attended the University of Illinois and graduated in 1954 with a degree in journalism. He was a member of the ATO fraternity. Robert was a partner at Grant/Jacoby, Inc., a Chicago-based advertising agency, focusing on business-to-business clients until he retired in 1995.

In 1980, Robert moved to the Douglas area, where he spent most of his summers. He was known fondly along the lakeshore as “The Muffin Man,” because of his legendary blueberry muffins, which he baked most weekends. Besides cooking, he enjoyed traveling and reading. For many years, he volunteered his cooking skills at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, which was supported by his church, Church of Our Saviour in Chicago. His children dedicated the Robert Wiley Lavender memorial kitchen in his honor four years ago.

Robert was a “subway alumni” of Notre Dame, never missing an opportunity to support his favorite football program. He is survived by his wife, Linda (Moy); three children, Robin (Datu Ramel) Lavender, Missy Lavender and Tim Lavender (Nancy Sonego); seven grandchildren, Elle, Clay, Greg, Wiley, Fallon, Caroline and David; seven nieces and nephews; and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Ronald (Kathleen) Moy, Nora (Joe) Healy, and Donald (Susan) Moy.

A memorial service celebrating Robert’ s life will be 11 a.m. Saturday, October 19, 2013, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 252 Grand St., Saugatuck, with Rev. Corwin Stoppel officiating. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Robert’s honor may be sent to Lincoln Park Community Shelter (, Mission of Our Lady of the Angels (, All Saints Episcopal Church or Notre Dame University. Please to sign an online registry or leave a memory.

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Bob Simonds’ 47 raises over $54,000 for ALS research

simonds walkOn September 22, Bob Simonds, Gamma Zeta ’47 led thousands of walkers along the Chicago lakefront as the family chairman for this year’s Les Turner Foundation ALS Walk4Life. The 2013 event has raised over $700,000 for ALS research and it was Bob and his team that led the way from the very start. Bob’s team was the #1 team with over $54,000 raised and Bob was the #1 individual fundraiser at over $36,000 raised alone. Within those numbers are over $10,000 from Gamma Zeta undergrads from their Mom’s Day event last spring and over $10,000 from Gamma Zeta Alumni and the event last weekend at the Soldier Field Illini vs. Washington football game.Continue reading

Bob Simonds ’43 Surpasses $60,000 Goal for Les Turner ALS Foundation Fund Raising

simonds alsALS has put Bob Simonds ’43 in a wheelchair unable to walk, talk or eat on his own but he didn’t let that stop him from achieving an incredible goal of raising over $60,000 for ALS research this year. Bob initially set a “stretch” goal of $50,000 which was significantly higher than last year’s achievement. However, with strong contributions of over $11,000 from Gamma Zeta undergraduates and their Mom’s Day fund raiser last spring and over $11,000 from Gamma Zeta Alumni from the program initiated by John Aymond ’80 at the Illini vs. Washington football game at Soldier Field in September, he raised the bar again to $60,000. Andy Daniels, ATO Tulane ’75 (our own Stu Daniel’s son and grandson) agreed to pitch in another $1000 to put Bob over the top if he could get to $59,000.Continue reading

Over 150 ATOs, Family and Guests attend Illini vs. Washington Football Game in Soldier Field

soldier field 2When the University of Illinois announced the football schedule for this fall that included a game in Chicago’s Soldier Field between the Illini and the Washington Huskies, John Aymond ’80 saw an opportunity. First, to get a bunch of Gamma Zeta’s together in Chicago which is always fun and second to help Bob Simonds ’47 raise money for ALS research. However, John didn’t stop there. Through his involvement with the Greek Council Board of Advisors (basically an alumni advisory group of the IFC) he turned this into a giant Greek Reunion at Soldier Field to watch the Illini play Washington in football.Continue reading

Gamma Zeta ‘57’s Gather in Williamsburg, Virginia

57sThe 57’s and sometimes guys from classes around them are probably the most dedicated reunion goers of all of our alumni. They gather nearly every fall for a reunion at rotating sites around the country. This 2013 event was in Williamsburg, Virginia on September 13, 14 and 15. This year, the group was all honored with their ATO Gold Certificates signifying over 50 years of membership in Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Gamma Zeta ‘54’s Hold Mini Reunion in Chicago

54sFour Gamma Zeta ‘54’s met in Chicago for a mini-reunion prompted by the Illini vs. Washington football game in Soldier Field on September 14. Ed Ptacek, (San Diego), Brig Young (Aspen, Colorado), Dick Young (Geneva, IL) and Waldo Peterson (Wisconsin Dells). They were joined by Bill McCarty at the football game on Saturday and had brunch with Dane Luhrsen ’77 and his dad Paul Luhrsen, Illini Sigma Chi ’54 on Sunday morning at the Drake in Chicago.

Join Gamma Zeta Alpha Tau Omega Illinois Linkedin Subgroups

LinkedIn_logo_initialsWe’ve created Linkedin “Subgroups” across a number of industries and career path as a way to identify Gamma Zetas who have expertise in each of these areas. You are encouraged to join those groups that are appropriate for you and to use these groups to identify support when needed. Here are the groups that have been created and links to join:

First, please join the main Gamma Zeta ATO Illinois Illinois Linkedin group – reading

Introducing Alpha Management and Chris Gutting

guttingBeginning this fall, the Thomas Arkle Clark Memorial Chapter House Corporation will be working with Alpha Management Group, a company that specializes in assisting fraternities with managing their facilities and finances, and in creating successful cultures and experiences within their chapters. Alpha Management Group is excited to begin this relationship with Gamma Zeta Chapter as it marks the fourth group we are working with on the University of Illinois campus. AMG currently also serves fraternities on twelve other campuses across the country and oversees fraternity housing for over 1600 men.

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Do you know Frederick C. Philbrick ’11??

filbrickOn September 29, 1975 William D. Krahling, Interim Executive Director of Alpha Tau Omega received a letter from Peggy Betts Richardson. This letter explained that Peggy’s uncle, Frederick C. Philbrick and aunt, Edna Betts Philbrick had left a significant bequest in memory of Frederick to the ATO Foundation. This resulted in the establishment of the Frederick C. Philbrick Scholarship to benefit Gamma Zeta ATOs which has awarded thousands of dollars to Gamma Zeta undergrads over the last thirty five years. The current value of the Philbrick endowment is over $75,000 and we’ll be awarding another $3,300 to a Gamma Zeta undergrad again this year. This was a wonderful gesture by the Philbricks and I’m certain that the recipients of these scholarships over the years have been extremely grateful.

Gamma Zeta has six other scholarships that we award each year, two in honor of Bob Simonds and at least one each in honor and memory of Matt Heldman, J.D. Sinnock, Rich Clausing and Dave Timson. The Gamma Zeta endowment totals nearly $500,000 and we award over $20,000 each year in scholarships. All of these other guys and their stories are well know to us but Fred C. Philbrick remains a mystery.

Here’s what we know. ATO records show that he initiated to Gamma Zeta in 1911. He appears listed as a Freshman in the 1912 Illio Yearbook in the house roster but not in the picture. There isn’t a single mention of him in the Illio or the Daily Illini archives after that. There is no mention of him in the Palm or the Gamma Zeta Newsletters that we could find. There were a couple of hits on his name on the internet but certainly no explanation for his large gift to ATO. All we really have is the brief letter from his niece that is included below.

Why would a guy who very likely only spent one year as an active member of Gamma Zeta donate that much money over 60 years later? We’d love to know more about this brother and what motivated him. If you have any information at all that you can share, please pass it on!

You’ll never look at the Chicago skyline the same again… Gamma Zeta’s impact on the Chicagoland real estate scene!!

real estateEric Handley ’97 prompted the idea for a compilation of “Gamma Zeta impact on the Chicago Real Estate Scene” when he posted a link to an article about a project that he and his firm, William A. Randolph, Inc. built in Hyde Park called Harper Court (they built the hotel and LA Fitness). Bill Barry ’77 provided a graphic illustrating the buildings in the loop that he has financed as EVP of Draper and Kramer. I had visions of filling in that graphic with a blue and gold “Tau” on each of the buildings in Chicago that Gamma Zeta’s had touched as a developer, owner, contractor, engineer, lawyer on the deal, manager or some other influence. However, there was just too much. You could easily just paint the whole city gold and blue. Here is just a sampling of Chicagoland real estate activities impacted by Gamma Zetas. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg!!Continue reading