The idea of holding an annual Alumni get-together was first proposed in early-1933 by Brother John Marvin Dean. Previously the Birds met every other year at the reunion in Mentone. An organizing committee was elected, which consisted of George Finley as Chairman and Marvin Dean as Secretary. This was the beginning of the Kappa Sigma Sigma Alumni Association. The committee functioned quickly and well and as a result of its action, the first Rendezvous was held on May 6th, 1933 at Proctor’s Tavern in Arcadia. Despite the identity of the restaurant as a tavern, the multi-course French menu for the event suggests otherwise. The program started with an invocation before moving on to cocktails, singing, a multi-course meal, proxies and remembrances, more singing, and adoption of the Alumni Association Covenant before ending with the alma mater. Brother Finley was elected as the first President of the Kappa Sigma Sigma Alumni Association.
During the 1930s the next seven Rendezvous dinners were divided between the Altadena Country Club, Lakewood Country Club and the American Legion Clubhouse in Redlands.
The 1940s saw a change in 1941, as the chant among alumni for the ninth Rendezvous was “On to Catalina” as the Brotherhood boarded the steamer for a truly grand weekend on Catalina Island. After returning for dinner to the Altadena Country Club on the 10th Rendezvous in 1942, the fraternity put the event to sleep for three years, their small way to recognize and help the war effort. When revived in 1946, the next five Rendezvous’ featured dinner at the University Club in Los Angeles.
In the 1950s, on a proud note, the sixteenth Rendezvous in 1951 found the fraternity gathering on the Redlands campus for a formal dedication of the new fraternity house on frat row, built and financed by the Kappa Sig alumni.
Thereafter, the annual Rendezvous gathering has been rotated among a variety of locations, with most popular spots being El Rancho Verde Country Club in Rialto, Indian Hills Country Club in Riverside, and when available, the Redlands Country Club. Remaining notes regarding the Rendezvous are confined to especially noteworthy occasions or milestones celebrated by the fraternity.
The 20th Rendezvous in 1955 featured a great steak dinner put on by the active chapter at the old University Hall (formerly the Casa Loma Hotel) before it was torn down and replaced by a supermarket. The intent had been to have dinner at the fraternity house, but rainy weather prevented the planned outdoor affair, and quick arrangements had to be made to move the event indoors. Despite the venue change, the actives saved the day with “a feast to remember”.
When did golfing become a major part of the Rendezvous? In 1956 the first event combining an afternoon of golf followed by evening dinner was held for the twenty-first Rendezvous, again at that old favorite, the Altadena Country Club. This popular formula of combining golf and dinner was followed as the standard Rendezvous format for the next 56 years, until the Rendezvous of 2014.
In 1957 at the 22nd Rendezvous, Herm Thornton was elected Secretary-Treasurer. He served the alumni brotherhood in this position until May 1961, during which time the first alumni directory was published. For the next 30 years, an alumni directory was printed and made available to all alums every five years, until deemed to be not economically feasible. Dale Perkins succeeded Brother Thornton in this position in 1961 and served until 1974, setting the precedent for dedicated, long-term tenure from brothers serving as Secretary-Treasurer on the alumni board. To date, as of the Centennial, Don Wheelock holds the longevity record for serving as Treasurer … now in his twentieth year!
By the mid-1960’s, with popularity of fraternities having swelled the ranks of active chapter brothers and newly-minted alums, it became increasingly difficult to secure facilities of sufficient size to accommodate the target of 80 “Buck of the Month golfers and a banquet room for 250 brothers. To President Pete Provost fell the task of finding such a facility. Beginning with the 31st Rendezvous in 1966, and through the 55th Rendezvous in 1980, all but one of the annual gatherings was held at El Rancho Verde Country Club in Rialto. The brothers found this facility popular for golf, accommodating for the cocktail hour and banquet, and offering shower and locker room facilities.
The 1970s saw a change in 1972 in which a doubles tennis tournament was added to the Rendezvous activities, with prizes and awards presented to rival those for the golfers. While tennis tournaments were for years dominated by the Don Leonard/Don Williams team, stiff competition developed and later tennis champions to include the teams of Caminiti/Strack, Brush/J. Leonard, Williams/J. Leonard, Gosch/Haskett, Coleman/G. Hardy and Caminiti/Cordova.
Of special significance at the 39th Rendezvous in 1974 was the honoring of three generations of the Leonard family; James S. Leonard – Class of 1917 (Charter Member), Bob Leonard – Class of 1946, Don Leonard – Class of 1947, and Jack Leonard – Class of 1972. Because of Jack’s legacy as the first and only third generation Kappa Sig and grandson of a Charter Member, he was known around the active chapter as “the Living Legend”. At the business meeting, George Finley, first president of the Kappa Sig alumni association, was roundly applauded. And, in keeping with the times, an unplanned masked streaker appeared midway in the program. Of note in this regard is that Jim Pearce’s whereabouts was unaccounted-for during this portion of the program. In golf, Milt Dietsch shot a 134 to become the first recipient of a new permanent trophy, the Hardy/Fox High Gross Perpetual Trophy. This fitting award, for essentially the worst golfer, was crafted at no cost in the shop of Bill Hardy with a generous donation of less than $10 received from Jim Fox to cover engraving. Alas, this original trophy has been lost over the years.
In 1975 one hundred eighty-one brothers turned out to celebrate the 40th Rendezvous, presided over by Brother President Bob Leonard. The meeting was highlighted by the introductions of Charter Members James Leonard, Herman Nixon and Don Mitchell. Other Charter Members unable to attend, but sending notes of greeting to the Brotherhood, were Fred Fagg and Victor Jones. As befitting the evening’s featured recognition of living Charter Members, the J. Marvin Dean Award was presented to James S. Leonard ’17. All active chapter past presidents were given special recognition during the program. Patron Chick Cornish, who retired from the University after 19 years of loyal dedication to the U of R and the fraternity was given special recognition and a standing ovation.
The following year, 1976, was again a record turnout, with over 190 brothers enjoying the steak dinner at El Rancho Verde. Celebrated was the 25th anniversary of ground breaking for the frat house. The gathering found over half the brothers in attendance at dinner having participated in either golf or tennis, which was held at the UR tennis courts. Highlights of the golf honors included Mike Lugo ‘56, who after 20 years competing in the Rendezvous golf tournament finally was presented an award for “second longest drive off the tee”. No matter that this new award category had to be created in order for Mike to receive his hardware. The range in ability shown among the golfers was evident in noting that Clayton Miller ‘57 won the low gross trophy with a score of 79, while Allan “Bat” Masterson ’68 won the Pi Chi Flight with a remarkable score of 188, which hands down (around) won him the coveted Hardy-Fox trophy.
During the era of the mid-80’s, order on the course among Rendezvous golfers was kept by patrolling course marshals, Brothers “Dish” and “Dumbshit”. Who was going to argue with “old no. 32”? It must be said that while Kappa Sigs have fun, we pride ourselves in proper decorum and behavior during Rendezvous golf tournaments, and have never (close, but never) been asked not to return in the coming year by any of the host country clubs. On rare occasion when there have been incidents, brothers have been held responsible and reminded that such detrimental behavior is not in keeping with the traditions of Kappa Sigma Sigma.
The 50th Golden Anniversary Rendezvous was celebrated in 1985 at Indian Hills Country Club in Riverside. It was our second year at this location, which proved to be a very accommodating and popular venue for many future gatherings. We were 205 strong for the banquet, while 105 golfers stormed the course. It was observed that Rob Challinor spent so much time in the sand traps that he was asked to bring a beach towel and shades to soak up some rays while he visits. In note of the historic nature of the event all past and present recipients of the J. Marvin Dean and S. Guy Jones awards who had not previously received engraved plaques were presented one by Marland Garth. This established the precedent of presenting individual awards to all future recipients of these honors. A special anniversary mug award was given to Ernie Larsen ’23 for his attendance at 49 of the total 50 Rendezvous’ held. Jim Fox was noted to be a close second, having attended 48 reunions. Brothers Marland Garth and Jim Fox were given anniversary mugs for the highest percentage of attendance by era.
Over the next ten years, Rendezvous attendance was very steady with between 150 and 160 in attendance for dinner and 100 golfers.
In 1986, Jim Fox, who was himself a patron of the fraternity for 22 years, presented a history of “Patrons of Kappa Sigma Sigma”. As a final note to the presentation, Patron Vern Dornbach was given special recognition for his 28 years of service as to the active chapter. Brother Vern Stater, also a long-serving patron, was recognized for his financial contributions and efforts overseeing a major restoration of the fraternity house.
A plaque of special recognition was presented to Bob Tanner at the 52nd Rendezvous in 1987 to acknowledge his service to the alumni association, and generous financial support of the active chapter through sponsorship of the annual Rendezvous raffle. His popular Red’s Meadow pack trip in the Sierras has long been offered as the raffle prize, and is reported to be an unforgettable experience by those brothers lucky enough to win. For the second year in a row, Ernie Larsen was unable to attend the Rendezvous, but did send along a wire message greeting to the brotherhood.
At the 53rd Rendezvous in 1988, Jim Fox’s streak of having attended 51 straight Rendezvous’ continued, and he was recognized with presentation of a pewter mug. By now, Jim had overtaken Ernie Larsen’s lead in the Rendezvous attendance derby, but likely only due to Ernie’s inability to attend in recent years as a result of poor health. The year 1988 also marked the retirement of Ted Runner ’48, having completed 35 years of service to the University. A special Homecoming retirement dinner was held in his honor, with dedication ceremony of Ted Runner Stadium conducted prior to the football game. Brother Runner was again recognized by the fraternity for his accomplishments at the 1989 Rendezvous. 1989 was also the first year that the Rendezvous Golf Tournament adopted a Texas scramble format with a shotgun start. This improved the pace of play and greatly assisted timing of of the banquet following golf. The scramble format and shot gun start have since been adopted as the tournament preference for the Rendezvous, when golf courses are able to accommodate.
At the 55th Rendezvous in 1990, University President James Appleton was in attendance for the dinner as a guest of the Alumni Association. In his presence, University Board of Trustees Chair, Brother Don Farquhar, gave the U of R Report and also recognized six other Kappa Sig brothers serving on the Board of Trustees: Dave Banta ’63, Dick Fisher ’65, Dr. Hugh La Bounty ’50, Hon. Pat Morris ’59, Jess Senecal ’52 and Chuck Zilch ’42. Brother Farquhar also presented Dr. Appleton with a check in the amount of $2,000 from the Alumni Association, to be added to the Kappa Sig Endowed Scholarship Fund. Jim Fox was again recognized as increasing his lead in number of Rendezvous’s attended, now standing at 53. Earlier on the day of the Rendezvous, Parton Dornbach was able to pay a visit to Ernie Larsen to express the brotherhood’s best wishes. Ernie sent his greeting along with a gift for the Kappa Sigma Sigma Scholarship Fund. This proved to be his last act of service to the fraternity, as nearly six months later, in September 1990, Brother Larsen passed over the High Sierras for the last time.
The 66th Rendezvous in 2001 featured golf held at the Palm Meadows Golf Course in San Bernardino, with banquet following at the Casa Loma Room on the U of R campus. Of somber note was the reading of the name James B. Fox, Jr. ’29, among others, as having crossed over the High Sierras for the last time. Jim passed away 17 days short of adding to his Rendezvous attendance record. On a lighter note, long overdue recognition and thanks was given to our faithful golf score compilers, Jerry Tenant ’59, Danny Blake ’58, and Harry Covert ’61.
The 68th Rendezvous in May 2003 began with a very special occasion. Many fraternity alumni, active fraternity members, university faculty, family, and friends gathered at the fraternity house to celebrate the life of Patron Vern Dornbach. Alumni President Bob Tincher ’89 led a very nice service that began with Dan Isham ’97 giving the invocation. Those who spoke about Vern were Harry Covert ’61 and Patron Chris Walker. Wendell Pickett ’83 also said a few words and then unveiled a beautiful memorial plaque which he designed. This plaque will be displayed “in memoriam” at the base of a tree located in front of the fraternity house. Later, the dark rainy day continued, despite the upbeat tone of the life celebration service, and it seemed as if the golf tournament would have to be cancelled. At the last minute, the rain let up and approximately 80 brothers headed out for an unexpected 18 holes of golf. The banquet and meeting followed at the Redlands Country Club. Tom Aplin filled in for Gary Smith in presenting the Athletic Report and did not disappoint. In a style described as somewhere between a Vegas lounge act and an audition for the Comedy Club, Brother Aplin nonetheless presented an informative report that had the brotherhood calling for more. The degree to which this performance may have influenced Brother Aplin’s election to the position of incoming President-Elect, later in the business meeting, is not measurable.
On May 5, 2007 the Brotherhood of Kappa Sigma Sigma held its 72nd annual Rendezvous golf tournament at Shandin Hills Golf Club in San Bernardino, followed by dinner at Orton Center on the U of R campus. During dinner, a slide show prepared by Brandon Pearce ’95 depicting fraternity life on campus was well received. University President Dorsey was our guest, providing an update on the status of the University. Highlights included a recap of the numerous events held in celebration of the U of R Centennial year; especially the Gala reception, the Rose Parade float, and Och Tamale-The-Musical. Dr. Dorsey also announced successful completion of the Centennial Campaign, which raised $100 million for the University endowment. Gary Smith ’64 gave the U of R Athletic Report. Following the report, the brotherhood rose in standing ovation upon announcement of Coach Smith’s retirement, having completed 40 years of involvement in the U of R basketball program. Jim Ducey ’78 was named to succeed Coach Smith as men’s basketball coach. Special recognition was given to 19 brothers of Kappa Sigma Sigma honored by the University as being among those alumni, faculty, administration and staff who, over the first century of its existence, most embody the tremendous spirit of the University of Redlands. Medals of honor were presented to those recipients in attendance, and all medals will be permanently displayed in the fraternity house.
The Rendezvous of 2008 featured a “State of the Fraternity” address to the brotherhood that was one for the ages. Brother President Chris Hardy described the response and intervention by the alumni association board to growing tension that had developed early in the year between the University and the fraternity over severe sanctions threatened against the active chapter for what essentially amounted to its failure to maintain a cumulative 3.0 grade point average. Consequences threatened by the University were loss of social privileges, loss of ability to take in a pledge class, mandatory study hours and suspension of the fraternity charter for a minimum of one year. The alumni board saw the University’s inconsistent policies and actions as threatening the very existence of the active chapter on campus, which would eventually impact the existence of the alumni chapter. It stepped forward when needed at a time when the administration was not recognizing any voice from the active chapter, and with its influence gave them an effective voice, raising inconsistencies in application of policies that could be interpreted to to have the effect of threatening not only the Kappa Sigs but the existence of all greek organizations on campus. Through its intervention, the alumni board secured agreement from the University to suspend its threatened actions and review its policies. Through the experience, an even closer bond was formed between the alumni and active brothers. The alumni board pledged to continue to be a voice of reason with the administration, as proponents of strengthening the fraternity system at the University and preserving Kappa Sigma Sigma as a social fraternity (not an honorary academic society) that instills life-long bonds of brotherhood, producing effective leaders and men of character.
The 75th Anniversary Rendezvous held in 2010 was highlighted by emotional testimonies from some of the brothers of what it meant to be members of Kappa Sigma Sigma. Jon Rains ‘87 shared a “Twist of Fate” story that explained how his life had changed through finding in Kappa Sigma Sigma the bonds of friendship that he never expected, in the aftermath of the untimely death of his brother, Bro. Mark Rains, in 1982. Equally as poignant were the reminiscences that Bob Leonard ’46, Jim Hackleman ’47 and Ted Nicolay ’44 shared in their “Brothers For Life” stories, which included a tribute to their missing fourth brother, Don Farquhar ’44, who had passed over the High Sierras for the last time just five months prior to the Rendezvous. Their stories chronicled their strong bond of friendship that had been formed in Kappa Sigma Sigma, their enlistment in the Marine Corps together, and stories of heroism during deployment to the South Pacific in World War II. All four were given a standing ovation and recognized as having contributed much to Kappa Sigma Sigma during their lifetimes, being long-serving members and past presidents of the alumni board and recipients of the J. Marvin Dean Award.
At the 78th Rendezvous in 2013, the retirement of Brother Patron Chris Walker was recognized, culminating 34 years of service to the fraternity and University of Redlands.
In 2014, the format of the Rendezvous was changed slightly in an attempt to address the growing trend for declining attendance at the banquet following golf. Having tracked this trend, and noting preference of many of the younger alumni brothers for a shorter business meeting and for more informal meal setting, the Rendezvous format was changed to a buffet brunch prior to the shotgun tee-off, reconvening for an informal gathering after completion of golf for social visiting and awarding of prizes. This was hoped to provide a gathering and meal opportunity early in the day for those brothers who do not play golf, enabling a chance to greet and socialize with the golfing brothers and eliminating the need to hang around for hours while awaiting dinner. The patio courtyard at Tukwet Canyon Golf Club in Beaumont proved to be a very accommodating and attractive venue for the event. The alumni association hosted craft beers and nacho bar for the strong turnout. In all, this new event format was well received by those in attendance. Yet, with all change comes some reservation tied to tradition and the Board is sensitive to the feelings of other brothers who prefer to hold to the time-honored, more formal meeting and banquet gathering. The Board also continues its attempts to identify and incorporate social and interactive events for the non-golfing brothers. It pledged to continue with Rendezvous format refinements in planning for a gala Rendezvous gathering on occasion of the fraternity centennial in 2016.