Welcome to the Alumni Association

The South Bay/Long Beach Beta Alumni Association is open to all alumni of Beta Theta Pi from all schools that have, or have had, Beta Theta Pi Chapters. The Alumni Association meets regularly approximately three times per year, and attends or hosts special functions. Alumni associations like the South Bay/Long Beach Beta Alumni Association are a great way to experience the depth of Beta Brotherhood beyond college. The Association enjoys members of all ages. All Betas Wecome!

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Leadership Fund Honors the Memory of John V. Conway, South Dakota ’56

In September 2015, the South Bay/Long Beach Beta Alumni Association lost founder, president and brother, John V. Conway, South Dakota ’56. His spirit and warm brotherhood survives, and we are fortunate to have known him, worked and played with him, and had the honor to call him brother.

John was active not only locally, but as a leader in many capacities with the general fraternity over the years. He believed in the principles and values of Beta Theta Pi and he promoted and furthered them with every breath. Among the programs he devoted time to supporting were Beta’s leadership programs, helping guide and shape the future of the fraternity and the lives of young brothers nationwide.

The Alumni Association, among others, is therefore honored that the general fraternity has agreed to host and manage the John V. Conway, Jr. Leadership Fund. Its purpose is to provide leadership program sponsorships, with a preference to undergraduates from John’s Gamma Alpha Chapter, and Beta chapters in California. Established by Jan and John Thietje, South Dakota ’61, the fund honors John’s legacy by continuing important work he valued.

We sincerely hope the John V. Conway, Jr. Leadership Fund receives sufficient donations to accomplish its goal. For those that have contributed, thank you. For those that have not had the opportunity, please consider contributing. Donations are managed by the Beta Theta Pi Foundation. The Foundation has set up a donation page at https://gift.beta.org/conway. To contribute by mail, the Foundation’ mailing address is:

Beta Theta Pi Foundation
5134 Bonham Rd
P.O. Box 6277
Oxford, OH  45056

Mail contributors will simply need to put “Conway” in the memo line of the check. Beta Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and a tax ID number can be provided. Contributions should also qualify for employer matching-fund programs.

The Bridge Builder

An old man going a lone highway
Came in the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm vast, both deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The swollen stream was as naught to him;
But he stopped when safe on the farther side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength in labor here;
Your journey will end with the closing day,
You never again will pass this way.
You’ve crossed the chasm deep and wide
Why build you this bridge at eventide?”

The laborer lifted his old gray head,
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth, after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm which has been naught to me
To that young man may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim.
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

– Miss  Will Allen Dromgoole
circa 1900

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Famous Beta H. Richard Hornberger, Bowdoin ’45, Author of M*A*S*H

Without a doubt, M*A*S*H is one of the landmark works of our time. The novel, turned into a movie, and inspiring one of the most successful shows in television history, was penned by Brother H. Richard Hornberger, Bowdoin ’45, under his pen name Richard Hooker.

For most of his professional life, Brother Hornberger was a thoracic surgeon in Maine. But his novel was based on his personal experiences as a captain in the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. His success with M*A*S*H is an inspiration for anyone with the drive to write a novel. He worked on the first draft of the story for 12 years. It was a humorous account of his work in Korea that included serious, heart-wrenching moments that showed how difficult and challenging work at the mobile surgical hospital was. The manuscript was rejectged by publisher after publisher, until finally Will Morrow published the book in 1968. Within two years, the movie became a smash hit, and in 1972, it inspired one of the most popular shows of television history.

Hornberger loved the movie, which he felt was very close to his original intent. But he rarely watched the TV show. According to his son, Brother Hornberger “was a political conservative, and he did not like the liberal tendencies” that the television show portrayed in Hawkeye Pierce.

M*A*S*H opened the eyes of the American mainstream to the workings of Army medicine in wartime situations, including the concept of triage and mobile surgical units—notions introduced and practices instituted into the military by another Beta, Jonathan Letterman, Washington & Jefferson 1845, during the Civil War.

Famous Beta Jonathan Letterman

Known as the “Father of Battlefield Medicine” while an army doctor in the Civil War, Jonathan Letterman, Washington & Jefferson 1845, is credited as the originator of the modern methods for medical organization in armies and on the battlefield. His system enabled thousands of wounded soldiers to be treated during the Civil War, many such practices that are still in place to this day.

Brother Letterman was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania on December 11, 1824. He graduating from Jefferson Medical College in 1849 and assumed the rank of assistant surgeon in the Army Medical Department the same year.

When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Jonathan Letterman was assigned to the Army of the Potomac. In 1862 he was named medical director of the entire army, with the rank of major. Learning of the trouble removing wounded from the battlefield, Letterman was given free range by General George McClellan to revamp the poor medical services that the men received in the field.

He also instituted the concept of triage for treatment of the casualties and developed an evacuation system that consisted of three stations: a field dressing station, a field hospital, and a large hospital located away from the battlefield. In addition, he arranged for an efficient distribution system for medical supplies.

New Chapters Chartered

In today’s legislation session, three colonies were up for a charter and now, all three are official chapters of Beta Theta Pi!

Congratulations to:

  • Eta Mu Chapter at the University of Arkansas

  • Beta Kappa Chapter at Ohio University

  • Eta Nu Chapter at the University of Pittsburgh (pictured)

Now Ready: Betas of Achievement II

Now arrived at Oxford! “Betas of Achievement II,” the final book from author Erv Johnson, Idaho ’53, has made its way to the Administrative Office! If you’re attending ‪#‎Beta176‬, there will be a chance to meet Erv, purchase the book ($20 for undergraduates; $25 for alumni/FOBs), and have him sign it personally on Friday afternoon. If your donations to the Beta Leadership Fund qualified you for a complimentary copy, expect to receive it in a few weeks. Otherwise, the book will be on sale to the general public very soon!