Kevin Cane '05 receives first
Named in honor of Gordon Sayers, Psi Phi '33,
the Prize recognizes lifelong dedication to Delta Kappa Epsilon
Gordon Sayers was born in Greencastle, Indiana, the home of DePauw University. He was the son of two DePauw graduates. His father was a Delta Upsilon and his mother one of the earliest members of Kappa Alpha Theta, which was founded at DePauw.
Gordy naturally attended DePauw, and he married a DePauw Theta. They had two daughters who also were Thetas at DePauw. But this isn’t about Theta.
Gordy graduated in 1933. Except for service in WWII, he spent his entire life in Greencastle. His wife, Virginia, continues to live there in their house today.
For more than 65 years, Gordy was thoroughly involved in the life of the chapter. In the 40s and 50s he was a regular at dinner. In the 60s and 70s he was either the president or the secretary of the house corporation. When I first met him, I was the rush chairman, and he kept sending me little 3X5 cards with “Gordon A. Sayers, Secretary, Alumni Corporation, Psi Phi of DKE” across the top. Handwritten at the bottom was contact information on young men in Putnam County who were headed for DePauw. A couple weeks after each card would arrive, he would call the house to ask if I had followed up. “He’s a fine boy,” Gordy would say. “That’s a fine family. We need to involve them in the chapter.”
“Fine” was probably Gordy’s highest compliment, and over the years I looked forward to him saying “you’re doing a fine job.” He would emphasize “fine.” He would tell me stories of Deke alumni he knew, and he knew them all, and I paid particular interest to the ones he would say came from “fine” families, or were “fine” men.
Gordy kept a list of every man initiated into the Psi Phi chapter. At some point, he had gone to DePauw’s archive and had begun the list with Psi Phi’s founder, listed every man in all the early classes in the mid 1800s, then every year he would call the president after initiation and ask for each initiate’s full name. Each class went on a 3X5 card that included the date of initiation, and he did this from the late ‘30s through the early 1990s. His list is now on the GoDeke.org website.
No other Psi Phi Deke has been, or will be, as involved in the life of the fraternity than Gordy. Weekly, and sometimes I believe daily, he would drive by the house just to check on its condition. He would sometimes call to say the yard looked like it needed mowing, or that the keg on the front porch wasn’t appropriate for people to see from the street. He lived in that house from 1929 to 1933, and I lived in that same house from 1980 to 84. He cared deeply about it as a symbol of the chapter. He cared more about the men inside.
In his later years, after he could no longer drive, Gordy’s daughter would drive him by the house. They wouldn’t stop, but I can’t tell you how many times I would look out a window, when I had a room that faced the street, to see Gordy’s cream-colored Dodge driving very slowly in front of the house.
He was a Scotch drinker, and he never missed an alumni event at DePauw or at the house. He often would bring his own bottle to chapter alumni events, and he would share a drink with just about everyone before the end of the day. Every Psi Phi Deke for more than 60 years knew him, and loved him. He died in 2000, and to this day, he is greatly missed and remembered fondly. Every year on her birthday, Psi Phi Dekes send a huge bouquet to Virginia Sayers, who’s well into her 90s now, as an honor to Gordy and as a thank you to Virginia for sharing him.
The Ruby Cup Foundation will inaugurate a second award tonight. The Sayers Prize will not necessarily be an annual award, but the foundation hopes it will be. It will go to the active member who has done the most for Deke during his student career, and who, like Gordy, shows the most promise for continuing to work on behalf of the fraternity after he graduates. Gordy’s involvement with Deke was not a four-year affair, it was life-long. He would correct people who said “I was a Deke,” and say “you are a Deke, you’re always a Deke.”
Kevin Cane, you are a Deke, and you always will be a Deke. That’s clear. You have led this chapter as its Philanthropy Chair, its Vice President of Membership, its executive vice-president, and now its president. But there are great chapter presidents, good ones, and lousy ones, and you’re not the first recipient of the
Sayers Prize because you are a great chapter president. I described the list of Jackson Scholars as ones who are destined for great things. And in 25 years, it will be fun to see if we’re right. But in 25 years, it is our hope that it’s the list of Sayers Prize winners who are meeting together to see if we’re right. It’s the Sayers Prize recipients we believe will remain involved in the life of the fraternity long after graduation—on the board of the house corporation, on the board of the Ruby Cup Foundation, acting as mentors of the men in the chapter, encouraging the chapter to accomplish tasks worthy of Deke’s Lion Trophy, helping individual men in the chapter accomplish tasks worthy of the NIC’s Undergraduate Award of Distinction—men more than just a name on a list of board members, but rather men who want to see Deke, Delta Psi, and all the men in the chapter succeed. And if one of the recipients turns out to be local, maybe he even would drive by the house with great regularity and suggest when the grass needs mowed or the keg needs to be taken inside.
Gordy would be embarrassed that we have honored him with what I believe is Deke’s highest honor. He lived his entire life as a proud Deke because that’s what he believed we all should do. Kevin, the Ruby Cup Foundation board believes Gordy would be very proud of what you have achieved as an active, and what you will do for the chapter after graduation. Without question, he would say you have done a “fine” job. On behalf of Virginia Sayers, the Ruby Cup Foundation, and the six decades of men who knew and loved Gordy, it is my pleasure to name you the first recipient of the Sayers Prize. Our hope is that you, and all the active members who follow you as Prize recipients, continue to earn the honor for decades to come.
The prize is a 10” bronze Rampant Lion statue, mounted on a base carrying a plaque with your name and graduation year.