Beta Theta Pi Denison Hijinks: read your brothers' stories and share your own

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What were the best nicknames you called your brothers and how did they come about?  

When's the last time you saw an Alpha Eta Chapter brothers in person? Who were you with, where were you, and what was the occasion? Do you have a photo from that day? 

What do you remember about the top social event the year you graduated? Do you remember your date? Did you happen to marry them? 

What was Beta known for during your time at Denison? 

Read on to find out how other Alpha Eta Chapter of Beta Theta Pi alumni answered these questions.  


Tom Witter ‘49

Nicknames: One nickname I remember was big Jim, although I do not remember what his name was, but he was the tackle on the football team.

Update: I am 95 now and in perfect health and live in a beautiful Victorian. You can reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

James Martin ‘69

Nicknames: Most of the nicknames used for brothers in our class weren’t too imaginative, relating mostly to a shortening of last names, e.g., Iac, Kijo, Lobo, Bakes, Spru, Vandy, Martino, etc.  One exception was “Neb”, no connection with either his first or last name.  I’ve never really thought much about the reasons for so few imaginative names, but my guess is that (as I recall) we had very few folks who had arrived at Denison after attending prep schools.

Last time you saw a classmate: My most recent instance of seeing an Alpha Eta brother in person was late last year when I discovered that Bill Dennis, a former history Professor at Denison, was living in Bozeman, MT where I had been living since 2016.  Bill had served as the Chapter’s academic advisor while he was at Denison and formally became a member of Beta Theta Pi and Alpha Eta when he and the active chapter decided that his invaluable relationship with the fraternity should be formalized.  He and I met for coffee in Bozeman, MT at a time when I was trying to resurrect and re-energize The Lanson Stage Curtis Memorial Association of Beta Theta Pi, the alumni association for Alpha Eta.  Unfortunately, no photos memorialized our Montana morning meeting.  Since then, I’ve been in contact with a number of other Alpha Etas by phone, email and ZOOM meeting also related to efforts to resurrect the LSCMA. 

My 50th College reunion in Granville in June 2019 gave me a chance to see many other Alpha Etas in person including Dan Kreer ’68, Bill Lewis ’68, and Rich Seils ’67 all of whom attended an impromptu dinner at the Granville Inn during reunion weekend.  Other AH brothers who attended the reunion (some of whom I hadn’t seen in many years) included Mike Karlson, Geoff Burbridge, John Carothers (’68), Garrett Stevens, and Bob Ichord.

Top social event: Top Social Event in the 1968-69 academic year – I’m sure there were many parties, concerts, and socializers whether at Buckeye Lake or elsewhere during our senior year, but in my mind the top social event was graduation.  While we were excited about graduating, many of us (at least those of us who didn’t have medical or conscientious objector exemptions) were also trying to figure out how to deal with Selective Service obligations and the specter of foreign (i.e., Vietnam) travel. 

What Beta Theta Pi was known for: Alpha Eta’s Reputation – From the moment of my introduction to the world of Beta Theta Pi, the Betas were known as jocks and campus leaders, and, yes, some even referred to the Beta House as the “animal house”.  Imagine.  I definitely didn’t contribute to that image because I certainly was not a jock (then and now 5’9” and 145 lbs) and wasn’t actively involved in campus organizations.  My focus was trying to figure out how to graduate and how to deal with the looming draft at the same time.  I was also trying to figure out post-graduate plans, namely law school.  I figured that if I was lucky enough to survive Vietnam or better yet avoid it, I wanted to try to have a spot saved for me in grad school when and if I returned.  Luckily, a summer ROTC program in Colorado that started a couple weeks after graduation together with a fortunate lottery number that came my way in December 1969 answered my prayers . . . but I digress.

Mark Shaw ‘80

Nicknames: Squawk Man, Snake, Hojo, Pinto, Nasty, Deek, Gummy, Clamper, Aorta, Texas Headless Flatworm to name a few.   

Last time you saw a classmate: Two live in the same town as I do near Jacksonville.  We see each other often and go fishing, golfing, and many Alpha Eta brothers come to visit.

Top social event: The Santa Claus Lap readings and Christmas Dance.  My date was my girlfriend from out of town. We did marry and are still married.

What Beta Theta Pi was known for: Animal House, Athletes, and farm animals.

Want to share your own stories? Click here to submit your answers to the questions above. We’ll publish your response in a future alumni e-letter! If you have a picture to share, email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “Beta Theta Pi Denison Photos.”