FIJI fraternity: More than a memory
The past and present men of Phi Gamma Delta, or “FIJI,” reconnected and reminisced past experiences in a celebration of the fraternity’s 100th year at University of Idaho March 29-31.
Despite the Easter holiday, an estimated 130 FIJI alumni joined together for the weekend, focused on reconnecting members from the past and present, as well as highlighting the house’s $1.7 million renovation completed last year.
The reunion included a golf outing Friday and a welcome mixer at Mingles, along with an open house and dinner
Jake LeFors, a recent FIJI alumnus, said he was really excited for the 100-year anniversary and thought it was cool to be in Moscow for this historic event.
“Being able to say that our house has been on UI campus for over 100 years is awesome,” LeFors said. “As a chapter it shows how important our time in the house was and that we still carry those memories with us.”
Memories of times at FIJI are what initiated house adviser and sports editor of “The Seattle Times” Don Shelton to reconnect with the house and his own pledge class seven years ago, after his pledge-brother Andy Pedersen was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It had been 30 years since they graduated and Pedersen wanted their pledge class to get together for a reunion before his memory of them started to fade.
“That’s when our pledge class, myself especially, really got reconnected with the house, after not having been there in 25 years,” Shelton said. “We all rallied around Andy.”
At the 30th reunion, Shelton said he realized how much he missed everyone, wanted to reconnect and that the house was in bad shape.
“The house needed updating really bad. The membership numbers have dwindled from 60 to 70 members when I was in the house to the low 30s,” Shelton said. “So we raised
the money, created higher membership standards and helped us toward what I think was the road to getting the house back to what it was when I lived there.”
Shelton said they are celebrating the house renovation for a lot of the guys who had not seen it since the renovation as well as for the 100-year anniversary.
“The house is really important to me, but it’s the brothers that really make the house,” Shelton said. “This weekend I really enjoyed getting back and seeing the current guys in the house along with the guys who lived there when I was going to school.”
Pedersen was still able to come to this reunion, but does not remember as much as he used to, Shelton, who accompanied Pedersen to this year’s celebration, said.
Shelton, who graduated in ‘76, and grew up in Fruitland, Idaho, said attending UI and living in FIJI really broadened his horizons and made his college experience a great one.
“Being a part of FIJI really shaped who I am. I don’t think anyone really knows how much it changes you until 20 or 30 years later,” Shelton said. “FIJI’s motto is ‘not for college days alone’ — being more connected now than I’ve ever been, I think I finally understand what that means.”
Michelle Gregg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org