As limited interaction during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic isolated individuals around the world, the importance of maintaining brotherhood and a strong community became more evident than ever, especially among Delt’s esteemed former international presidents.
“One of the traditions at Karnea is for former international presidents and the current president to get together for a briefing on issues facing the Fraternity and to catch up personally on our lives since the last Karnea,” said 51st International President Travis Rockey (University of Florida, 1973) who served from 2012 to 2014.
By late spring, in a year where the original Karnea planned for a J.W. Marriott property in Phoenix was adapted to a virtual event, 43rd President Dave Hughes (Ohio Wesleyan University, 1961) who served from 1996 to 1998, was compelled to organize a Delt call with former international presidents.
“There are 17 past presidents still living now and that includes Steve Paquette, so 16 before Steve became a fallen arch and now 17 of us total,” Hughes said.
Rockey joined the other former presidents who jumped at the opportunity to gather online. “The first Zoom had 13 of the 17 former presidents on it. It was like being back at Karnea. It was good to hear what was going on in each other’s lives and renew our bonds of brotherhood. Today we look forward to the Zoom meetings and urge communities, chapter officers, chapters as a whole, pledge classes or small groups of alumni to reconnect by Zoom, Facebook, conference calls or just a single call to your big brother. Whether it is COVID-related or life’s challenges, there are always brothers to help make your day better,” Rockey said. “Brotherhood sustains us.”
From the pandemic to how chapters and the Fraternity are adjusting, this group of leaders shared information and inspiration. “At the end of the call I think everybody said, ‘Let’s do this several times every year going forward.’ And we’re going to, we’re going to do that.” Hughes said. “This was a chance to catch up and find out what the Fraternity is doing now, how they’re handling the pandemic and what can we do to support it.”
Forty-fifth International President Bob Roush (Sam Houston State University, 1964), who was elected to serve in 2000 following the peak of the dot-com bubble, heartily endorsed what he calls a form of e-brotherhood. “I think this will likely continue beyond the COVID-related restrictions because of the opportunity for people of like mind to share things important to our lives and to the Fraternity,” Roush said. “It would have been better to have been at Karnea personally, but this is the next best thing.”