President Dwight D. Eisenhower- an Honorary Morrill Chapter Member?! Who Knew?!

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!

“I remember it well,” said Brother James Poorbaugh ’63. Next to the President in the photo is Albert Cartwright who was Chancellor. Al is a retired veterinarian who lives in Glendale, CA. Behind him is David Clelland. The man at the back of the picture was Harry Poorbaugh. He was an advisory board member who was Associate Director of Ag Extension at Penn State. As I recall, the visit was set up through Herman Purdy who was on staff at Penn State and the Herdsman for the President’s heard at his farm in Gettysburg, Pa. It was kept very secret until the visit, but the papers covered it very well. Meeting the President was a real privilege and inspiration. We considered it a real nice recognition of what AZ stands for that the President would take time to come. Of course, his brother, Milton, was a Penn State President, which I am sure contributed as well as the Herman Purdy connection.”

“Like Jim Poorbaugh, Joe Andre and I were members of the class of 1963, “said Brother George Shook ’63. Joe and I had completed our terms, respectively, as chancellor and vice-chancellor (what was it called? censor?) a few weeks before the Eisenhower initiation. It's fair to say that Joe was the point person and I was his accomplice on these arrangements. As I recall, we were the only two in the know until we announced it at a chapter meeting a short time before the event. It's important to mention that Karroll Kershner from the class of '62 tried to arrange this initiation in the spring of 62, but schedule conflicts didn't allow that to happen. So Kershner passed the idea and contacts on to Joe Andre. I'm not sure, but I suppose Kershner was chancellor of the chapter the year before Joe Andre.

Carroll Kershner was an animal science major (as I recall) and well acquainted with animal science Prof. Herman Purdy. Prof. Purdy was quite active in judging cattle shows and consulting with Angus cattle breeders. Dwight Eisenhower had a hobby herd of Angus at his residence near Gettysburg, PA. Purdy had visited Eisenhower and his Angus herd often and were well acquainted. So it was the Andre - Kershner - Purdy connections that enabled us to reach Eisenhower.

We kept the event quiet as that was Eisenhower's desire. I believe the active chapter members, Prof. Purdy, and very few others knew in advance that Eisenhower would be at AZ that day.

We drew a rebuke from the national Alpha Zeta office for initiating Eisenhower without first getting their approval -- but they accepted his membership - gladly, I'm sure. We had not followed protocol. And I expect that representatives of the national office would have been in attendance had they known in advance.

Eisenhower flew up on a private aircraft and was in State College for perhaps 4 or 5 hours that day. Purdy, and maybe others, took Eisenhower on a tour of the Angus herd on campus early during his visit. I believe Eisenhower spent the rest of his time that day at the Alpha Zeta house where the initiation and a lunch with chapter members were held. I suppose we had a reception line where members were able to shake hands and greet the former President.

This was not Dwight Eisenhower's first visit to Penn State. As you probably know, his brother Milton Eisenhower was Penn State President during most of the 1950s. Milton Eisenhower had left the post before our class arrived on campus in September 1959.

Somehow, word leaked out during the day that Ike was on campus. A small crowd began to gather across Burrows Road from Alpha Zeta as our time with Eisenhower was ending. Memory fades -- I wish I could remember more about that famous day.”

“The first attempt to have Dwight Eisenhower initiated into the chapter was tried in 1962 with the input of Herman Purdy who was a consultant for the Angus herd of at President Eisenhower's farm in Gettysburg,” said Karoll Kershner ’62. “Professor Purdy was in charge of the Universities beef herds and a recognized cattle judge.
I made a trip to President Eisenhower' office in Gettysburg to visit with his secretary. She was not available at the time of my visit and I was not able to make any contacts at a later date.”

“I was working on my Masters degree in biochemistry at PSU at the time and still in active contact with the Brothers at the House,” said Brother Fred Rickett ’61. “We were alerted that General Eisenhower would be coming and that the Chapter wanted a good turnout to greet him. I remember being in the receiving line and shaking his hand. I understood at the time that Eisenhower had a respected angus breeding program at his farm near Gettysburg and surmised that this was probably the reason he was selected as an honorary member. General Eisenhower was no stranger to the State College area. His brother was a former president of the University and General Eisenhower loved to fly fish for trout in the area streams. Penn State had a well-known teacher of fly fishing, whose name I have long forgotten, and they fished together on occasion.”

As alumni, we love to see photos of our lifelong friends, and those of yesteryear that made our organization great! Now is your chance to submit your own photos, depicting the lifelong bonds that you enjoyed during your time at Alpha Zeta.

These cherished photos provide a view into what makes our group among the most beloved. Whether it’s our beautiful chapter house, that festive holiday party or simply, a group of friends enjoying the bond that only a fraternity can foster, we want to see your photos!

Log on to your alumni website today  and click here to upload your own cherished memories or send them to our editor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

After all, one thing we can all agree on is that the Morrill Chapter gave us some of the best memories we will ever have!

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