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Fraternity brother waits 46 years for initiation

Release Date: May 27, 2010

Southfield, Michigan – Forty-six years after he started pledging, Bernard “Skip” Wendt of Davisburg is finally a member of the Phi Kappa Upsilon (PKU) fraternity at Lawrence Technological University.

Wendt was part of the 1963 pledge class, but was required to drop out when Lawrence Tech officials ruled that a less than satisfactory grade dropped his quarter grade point average below what was then required for membership in a fraternity.

He went on to graduate with a degree in industrial management and a GPA just under 3.0.

Despite never being officially initiated, Wendt maintained close friendships with many members, including Jim Oliver, his “big brother” when he started pledging, and Ralph Eagle, the best man at his wedding. He hired the children of PKU members to work at the company he founded. He barbequed and vacationed with members and attended fraternity weddings and funerals.

Last year, some PKU alumni members decided to correct what had become a 46-year-old wrong and allow Wendt to complete his last hurdle to full membership. Thirty fraternity brothers attended the ceremony held at “The Castle” (the fraternity house) on Nine Mile Road in Southfield.

Wendt now has the distinction of being the PKU member who, by far, spent the most time as a pledge.

Phi Kappa Upsilon Fraternity was founded in 1932 at the suggestion of Russell E. Lawrence just after he founded Lawrence Institute of Technology. The signing of the fraternity charter took place on Nov. 21, 1932, and included President Lawrence as an honorary member. It was organized to perpetuate the bond of friendship between students, and its purpose is to further the individual and collective welfare of its members by creating cultural, educational and fraternal advantages.

Lawrence Technological University,, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey and Traverse City. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.