A Man of Many Talents: Thomas “Tommy” Simmons ’59 Shares His Fondest Psi Memories
Thomas “Tommy” Simmons ’59 had at least one major incentive to pursue Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Alabama: his friends. He happen to be acquainted with some of the members of Psi Chapter, so the desire to join was natural.
Tommy enjoyed the support of his Chapter brothers, with whom he made countless memories during his undergraduate years. “I helped invent Psi’s Underwater Party,” he shared. “We strung volleyball nets across the ceiling and made decorative paper fish and seaweed to hang from them. We used blue and green flood lights to create an underwater effect,” Tommy added nostalgically. The dress code for the event mandated bathing suits, swim masks, and scuba tanks made from beer cans. “The girls couldn’t walk across campus in their bathing suits, of course, so they wore them underneath raincoats. Somehow, we got away with that!” he remembered. The party was such a huge hit for Psi that it became a tradition for the Chapter.
Aside from helping coordinate events, Tommy served as Psi’s vice president at one point. He built close friendships with roommates Johnny Steele and Jim Pittman, whom he, “loved and planned to grow old with, but who were both killed; one in a plane and the other in a car.” The loss of Johnny just after he became a doctor of medicine and Jim while a successful businessman was quite saddening for Tommy. I think of them often. Marion “Bumper” Lyons ’59 was “really crazy.” Tommy quipped, I must confess, the Dean of Men got to know me by my first name. Charles Beauchamp ’58, Waights Taylor ’59, and Dr. Luther Richardson ’57 were other DKEs he befriended. I liked every one of our sixty members. Too many are now gone.
One of the greatest lessons Tommy learned from his involvement with the fraternity was that the company of a brotherhood comprised of good men can serve as a huge help and support throughout one’s life. He wants today’s members to understand the importance of having fun and maintaining a sense of humor during college, but knowing not to do anything “stupid, dishonest, or ungentlemanly.” Tommy suggests brothers “read everything you can get your hands on, serve your country if need be, and treat everyone, especially women, with Southern manners and dignity.
His involvement in Psi introduced Tommy to his future wife, Katherine “Kay” Bounds, who he recalled as being the prettiest Kappa at UA. “Marrying her was the best thing I’ve ever done,” he stated. “She’s inspired me to achieve in the 59 years we’ve been husband and wife; always with the goal of earning her love and respect, which I still work on.” The couple has two sons, Scott and Jack, and four grandchildren.
Tommy is an accomplished author with three nonfiction and two fiction books currently in print: Escape from Archangel, Forgotten Heroes of World War II, The Man Call Brown Condor, By Accident of Birth, and The Last Quinn Standing. Two have won gold medals. All are available through his website, www.thomasesimmons.net, book stores and Amazon. For the past 63 years, Tommy has been a pilot. He has visited five continents in his career and says, “I’ve lived many lives.” Aside from writing, Tommy enjoys quality time with family and friends and sailing. You can connect with him at email@example.com. To see and hear an interview with Tom Simmons on his published fiction and nonfiction, visit drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-fgXl7B0j6PYk95VU42dnF3QWc?usp=sharing.
Rewarding DKE Experience Inspires Ken Brock ’66 to Pay It Forward
When Ken Brock ’66 reflects on his undergraduate career at the University of Alabama, he remembers it as a unique, one-in-a-million college experience thanks to Delta Kappa Epsilon. Like many college students, Ken wanted to experience what it was like to be in a fraternity and forge lifelong bonds with brothers—this is exactly what he found at the Psi Chapter of DKE. “The unmatched camaraderie among brothers enhanced my overall experience with both the fraternity and the university,” Ken says.
Social events, fraternity activities, UA football games, and interacting with sorority women provided Ken with some of his most cherished memories in Delta Kappa Epsilon. In addition to making memories with his fraternity brothers, Ken also played a pivotal role in Psi Chapter’s recruitment process as both assistant recruitment chairman and recruitment chairman. Ken says, “My involvement in the Chapter truly helped me learn how to get along with others, conflict management, life lessons, and many more valuable lessons that still apply to my life today. Psi Chapter inspired me to be successful in both my personal and professional life, and to set the standard for others.”
There are many individuals who made a significant impact on Ken’s undergraduate experience in Delta Kappa Epsilon. One person Ken fondly remembers from his days at 946 University Boulevard was the Chapter’s housemother. “She was a good person to go to when members had problems. It was like having a mother nearby. She really enhanced the overall atmosphere in the Chapter and helped brothers become better men.”
Ken knows a fraternity is only as strong as its membership, and with a brotherhood as strong as Psi Chapter’s, it is imperative to maintain the facility these men live in. Delta Kappa Epsilon has given Ken more than he could ever repay; however, he has chosen to generously give back any way he can to ensure future brothers can continue to live in a competitive, polished facility for years to come. “I want brothers of all generations to have a better facility, one they can all take pride in,” Ken says. “Think about the good experiences you had in DKE and help support the future of our Chapter whichever way is suitable for you, whether it is through financial contributions, volunteering for the House Corporation, or simply visiting the house and talking with the active members.”
Ken owned an industrial chemical company for 25 years, working primarily in Alabama and also Florida. He eventually sold the company and pursued a career with a recreational vehicle business for several years before retiring. “The satisfaction in growing a business from infancy to something I take pride in was one of my favorite highlights from my professional career,” Ken says. “I enjoy seeing my predecessors grow the businesses even more.”
In the right season, you will find Ken at the lake, fishing, or traveling. He and his partner of 15 years, Maria, are engaged and live in Wetumpka, Alabama. You can send Ken an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.