Friday, October 29, 2010

Gamma Pi's Brother Gordon Everett Leads WSSU Homecoming 2011 with TV Interview

Last weekend was a "red-letter" weekend in Winston-Salem, N.C. Make that a "red and black" letter weekend, as Winston-Salem State University celebrated its Annual Homcoming. Prominent in the celebration was Gamma Pi's own Brother Gordon Everett, who is fresh into his term as the elected National Alumni President for WSSU. He is a 1978 Rams graduate. Brother Everett crossed those Burning Sands at WSSU in 1975 (Mu Epsilon).

Brother Everett was front and center on the local news filling the community in on Homecoming festivities during a live interview on Winston-Salem's Channel 12 WXII-TV. This was not a "man-on-the-street" or "face-in-the-crowd" interview. This was an in-studio interview "on the set," as they say in the industry. Morning Reporter Nichole Ducouer interviewed both Brother Everett and another alumni official on-air on last Friday, October22.  The station is an NBC affiliate and serves the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point "Triad" area.

In the interview, Brother Everett described an exciting, action-packed weekend that included numerous galas, reunions, dinners and oh, yeah, the game, which WSSU won by beating UNC-Pembroke before a full house of more than 18,000 screaming fans. Gamma Pi's Brother Eddie High and his wife, Mary, were Brother Everett's special guests for Homecoming. The High's daughter, Mya, is a freshman at WSSU.  Brother High is also a Second District Corridor Representative for Omega Psi Phi.

"The weekend started Thursday morning with "Return to Serve" where over 50 alumni from various career experiences visit students and faculty in classrooms to hold discussions with students on their preparation for life after WSSU."

For Brother Everett, the National Alumni Association Scholarship Gala was a key event among many held during the weekend as  he leads the organization in pursuing an ambitious goal of raising $500,000 for a scholarship endowment.  The Millenium Center in  downtown Winston-Salem was the center of all the social activity.

Brother Everett, who is Gamma Pi's incoming Basileus for 2010-11, was elected National Alumni President for WSSU in April and his two-year term began in July. He previously served as Vice President of the alumni organization prior to his election to the top post. Click here to watch Brother Everett's interview on WXII Channel 12

Brother Everett (right) on the set live at WXII-TV 
Here's a Homecoming bonus courtesy of WSSU: even though you may not have been in attendance, you can enjoy last week's sizzling halftime show put on by the "Red Sea of Sound" marching band directed by Dr. Michael Magruder.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gamma Pi Celebrates Another Omega Life Well-Lived After Back-to-Back Giant Losses

Not quite a year ago, on the evening of November 29, Gamma Pi Brother Phillip Ferguson sent out this email to the Gamma Pi Brotherhood: "I informed one of Brother Blakey's line brothers, Prince Willis, from Knoxville College of Buddy's condition. Prince has visited him in the hospital several times and is quite concerned about Buddy's progress. He said Buddy recognized him and sort of smiled which was his only form of communication."

Bro. Blakey (left) and Bro. Richard Moore 
At the time, Brother Ferguson and Brother William A. Blakey, Esq. were simply tied together by the bond that holds all Omega men together, especially when they are in the same chapter. One was looking out for the welfare of another and reporting back to other Brothers, and it would have happened the same way had it been the other way around. But like a double-edged sword, that e-mail cuts through the heart of the chapter now as Gamma Pi chapter finds itself having participated in yet another Omega Service for a fallen member barely two weeks after performing the same duties for another Brother.

That recently discovered email poignantly ties Brother Ferguson and Brother Blakey (known as "Buddy") together in a way that no one would have expected last year, looking back, as the chapter this week paid homage to Brother Blakey. He entered Omega chapter after a long illness and ironically just a few days after Brother Ferguson entered Omega chapter. Brother Ferguson's period of illness began soon after he sent the note out updating the chapter on Brother Blakey's condition.

Brothers gather for Blakey Omega Service
Just as for Brother Ferguson on October 7, a large contingent of Brothers held an Omega Service for Brother Blakey on October 21 at Greater Mount Nebo AME Church in Bowie, Md. Gamma Pi seemingly has worn black all of the month of October. But through the darkness and the drabness, the bright lights of these Omega Brothers and others in Gamma Pi who have gone on before them shined brighter than ever.

Like Brother Ferguson, Brother Blakey, who entered the Fraternity in 1962 at Beta Epsilon chapter (Knoxville College), was active and fully engaged in Omega through Gamma Pi. He, too, had become legend. He was just two years short of his 50th year as a member of the Fraternity when the Supreme Basileus called him to reward. He was recalled this week as "a man of character, a man of integrity" and a man of "vision, faith and courage."

Brother Blakey's very successful career as an attorney combined his love for politics, law and education. He was a graduate of Knoxville College and later the Howard University School of Law. He had his own practice, William A. Blakey & Associates, in Washington, D.C. He made his passion for education an integral part of his work and as a result of his tireless work in behalf of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, he was inducted into the Black College Hall of Fame in 2001. His concern for education extended to Gamma Pi as he served on the Scholarship Committee, helped the chapter select scholarship recipients and worked closely with Gamma Pi's Project ENRICH college preparatory program.

Bro. Blakey (right) at  Que legislative event
Brother Blakey was a member of Gamma Pi for 17 years. In addition to his work in the area of Scholarship, he served as Legislative Committee chairman and is best known for recently organizing the very successful annual "Ques Night in Annapolis" event.  He also served on the Constitution & Bylaws Committee, the Housing Committee and the Membership Selection Committee. When business ended, Brother Blakey enjoyed the social fellowship of his Omega Brothers and frequented golf outings and HBCU college football games with his Omega Brothers in tow.

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, and Gamma Pi chapter will miss him dearly. Brothers can visualize him and Brother Ferguson greeting each other at the door to Omega chapter just in time for the next meeting.

Bro. Dove in his favorite environs
In the past year, Gamma Pi also lost Brother Douglas Dove,who passed away in December 2009.  Many recall his quiet, introspective demeanor and the true, genuine friendship he extended to all Brothers. Like a lot of other Gamma Pi Brothers, Brother Dove also had a passion for golf and fraternized often around the game, organizing many of the outings himself. He, too, was active in chapter committee work and supported numerous chapter events. He participated in last year's Achievement Week while very sick-- less than a month before his passing. His Omega Service in Washington, D.C. also drew a large group of Brothers from Gamma Pi and elsewhere.

Basileus Maurice Calhoun announced that the chapter is planning to develop a memorial project for Brothers who have gone on, and a pictorial memorial from Brother Thad Turner is forthcoming. Brother Eddie Epps provided the photo from this week's Omega Service and Brother Turner the others. Also thanks to Brother Joe Felder (Keeper of Records and Seal) and Brother Roland Byrd for supplying biographical information on Brother Blakey.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chapter Remembers A Truly Great and Selfless Omega Man: Brother Phillip Ferguson

It may not seem readily apparent to members of the public, but the life of a true Omega man is always guided by the Four Cardinal Principles of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift.  It is often in the death of a great Omega man that those in the Fraternity are reminded of the wisdom and nobility of those Cardinal Principles while people outside the Fraternity get a true picture of what Omega Psi Phi is all about.  That was evident this week for the Brothers of Gamma Pi, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and our extended family of friends and community members who joined us in paying tribute to Brother Phillip R. Ferguson in the wake of his October 1 passing.

Brother Ferguson (left) greets golfers
When he passed on to Omega chapter after a lengthy illness, Brother Ferguson had spent more than 50 years as a member of Omega Psi Phi.  He had tirelessly served the Fraternity at the District and local levels, and had a quiet, but vast influence throughout Omega Psi Phi that spanned beyond the Second District into other parts of the country. Those connections linked to his activities within his own family, within his church, in support of his neighbors, in providing assistance to forgotten seniors, in helping nameless and faceless less fortunate citizens and in advising and guiding local youth.

True to Omega's spirit, he knew how to have a good time and make life interesting for those around him. But by the same token, he was always ready to answer the call of service to the Fraternity and the community. His service and responsiveness helped Gamma Pi earn the label, "The Super Chapter."  He is a past Basileus of Gamma Pi. For people who want to know "What do the Ques do?", they can simply read Brother Ferguson's life story for the answer. Second District Representative Brother Kenneth Rodgers called him "truly a staple in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity ... He is a legend."

Here is a short video snippet of Brother Ferguson on 50 years in Omega. This was recorded in 2009 by the Gamma Pi public relations team:

It was a trying, yet triumphant week as Gamma Pi, Omega Psi Phi and the Prince George's County and State of Maryland community laughed and cried together in remembering Brother Ferguson. Many of the exploits that Fraternity members and community members learned of this week during Brother Ferguson's Omega service (October 7) and his funeral (October 8) had not been shared before. For instance, there were stories of how Brother Ferguson packed his personal vehicle and drove church youth's luggage to Ocean City for retreats at his expense. Brothers heard about how on many occasions -- out of public view and public earshot -- he paid out of his pocket to send church members and young people to various camps and out-of-town meetings so they could enhance their knowledge.  He wrote letters and made calls for Brothers and others. He had a skill for bringing the right people together behind the scenes to make something positive happen for the greater good. He facilitated Uplift.

Perhaps the funniest story about Brother Ferguson came from a fellow chuch member who recounted how she called him at home one Sunday afternoon for expert advice on desktop publishing, only to be told, gently: "Sister, don't you know the (Redskins) football game is on?"

Omega Brothers prepare for Ferguson Omega Service 
More than 100 Omega Psi Phi members from the area participated in Brother Ferguson's Omega Service and even more people attended the funeral the next day. Several top local elected leaders -- including some who happen to be members of Omega Psi Phi and Gamma Pi -- spoke about him at the funeral service. The State Legislature sent a proclamation in his honor.

Brother Ferguson was a career military man who retired as a high-ranking officer. He also served his country as a Public Affairs professional in the federal government after retirement from the military. He was a trained musician and sang in various Fraternity chorales. He leaves a wife and three children, grandchildren and a chapter and Fraternity full of Brothers who will miss him, but will go on, as he would want, employing the life lessons he taught and walking in the imprint of his big shoes, literally and figuratively. 

Brother Phillip Ferguson is proof -- living proof, even in death -- that Omega men are about something positive, something much larger than ourselves, and it starts and ends with our unique and strong Brotherhood that can never be replicated by any other organization anywhere else. Only Omega. Only "Brother Phil" Ferguson. 

The photo above from this week's Omega Service was provided by Brother Eddie Epps of Gamma Pi chapter.

Brother Ferguson (far right) sings in a Fraternity chorale