Farewell to a Proud DU
As Delta Upsilon brothers, we know the profound impact our Fraternity membership has on our lives. It is not that we were a DU in college, but that we are DUs. The experiences we have and the lessons learned from our Four Founding Principles carry us throughout life. It is always special to hear from family and friends of DUs about how DU impacted the lives of their loved ones.
John Philip "Phil" Harney, Illinois '46, was a proud DU. The DU Quarterly team is happy to share this message written by Phil's son Brian regarding Phil's life and love for DU.
It is hard to believe it has been almost 80 years since my father pledged the Delta Upsilon fraternity at the University of Illinois in the fall of 1942. As a young man of 17 from the small farming town of Bradford, Illinois, he would leave home for a journey that became both a wonderful memory and lasting imprint on his life. And it all began as a future member of Delta Upsilon.
Hearing of the experiences of his college days as a DU was reminiscent of a scene from the touching movie, "Dead Poets Society." Professor John Keating played by Robin Williams whispers to his students as they gaze at the fading pictures of the boys, students from generations past, "Carpe Diem, Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Seize the day boys." Looking at a picture of my father and his "brothers" in front of the DU house, you could see the joy, excitement and camaraderie of their first experiences away from home and off to college. A time to enjoy the last days and months of their youth before heading off to war as part of the "Greatest Generation."
My father John Philip "Phil" Harney was a proud member of a wonderful fraternity and excellent university. It was a cherished memory to hear the stories and experiences he had as a member of Delta Upsilon at the University of Illinois. Watching him describe the excitement of that first week away at college and going through rush was like it happened just yesterday. He narrowed it down to three very fine fraternities during rush week, but he always made sure to let me know Delta Upsilon was first on his list. He loved sports, and from the members of Delta Upsilon he met, he knew this was the group he wanted to join.
What an exciting time to be in a fraternal organization during those years, especially at the University of Illinois. His freshman year, the Illini basketball team had the famous "Whiz Kids," the No. 1 ranked team in the country. During his college years in the DU house, he loved participating in and watching all the collegiate sports. While there, he attended many track meets watching the future Olympian and gold medal winning sprinter Herb McKenley, as well as watching Dike Eddleman, considered the greatest all-around athlete in the history of the University of Illinois. He most fondly remembered the 1947 Illini Rose Bowl Champions that defeated UCLA 45-14. This was special because several members of that champion Rose Bowl football team were his fellow brothers of Delta Upsilon. As he would proudly say, "The DUs during those years were a force to be reckoned with and a wonderful group of lads."
And he was right! Many young men of Delta Upsilon chapters across the country, along with the young men and women of that era, had their lives interrupted to serve our country and provide freedom, liberty and justice to nations across the world. My dad and many DU brothers volunteered for service, not to return the next year to the DU chapter house and the collegiate life. I can only imagine what that must have felt like seeing your fellow brothers go off to war. How difficult it must have been also for their parents. Unimaginable sacrifices by those in service and their loving parents seeing them off.
Dad said the lessons he learned and brotherhood of the DU house that first year helped him face the next chapter in his life. He volunteered and joined the Army Air Corps (Air Force) in the summer of 1943 at the age of 18. He was a gunner on a B-24 Liberator in the 466th Bomb Group 785th Bomb Squadron stationed in England as part of the "Mighty Eighth" Air Force. He flew many bombing missions in support of our troops during the Battle of the Bulge, as well as many dangerous missions deep into Germany. Stationed in England until V-E Day, he then was sent to California preparing for the final battle on Japan training now in the new B-29 Superfortress. Fortunately, the war ended and he was honorably discharged in the late fall of 1945 looking forward to rejoining the DU house for spring semester 1946. He would not talk much about the war, but I know he lost close friends in his squadron, as well as several of his college classmates. He never forgot the boys that did not make it back and said they were the true heroes.
Preparing to go back to classes and studying after those World War ll experiences must have been difficult, but the excitement of returning to school and seeing his fellow DU brothers was quite a joy. There were many memorable stories—too many to write about. He said the chapter house was a sight to see. In his time there, they had beautiful leather furniture and wood floors. The brothers kept the home in tiptop shape. They were all required to wear suit coat and tie each night for dinner. The pledges all had study hall in the dining room after dinner. Dad said all 60 plus members slept in one large room on the top floor. The rule was you could never shut the windows all the way for health reasons. In the winter months, you might find snow accumulating on the floor next to all the windows, but he never slept better. Dad loved to tell me about their massive Great Dane mascot named DUD for DU Dog. They would take turns marching DUD across campus and even to class. It was a great way for the brothers to meet a nice girl for the next social event.
But the social event he had the most joy retelling many times was his last Homecoming event senior year. He had invited a young girl from out of town he had met the summer before to the festive Homecoming activities. They had a wonderful time, and before she left, the members of the Illinois DU chapter house all lined up on the stairway from the dance floor to the second floor and serenaded his lovely date. This story had a special meaning because his date, Kathleen Waugh, became his future wife and mother to their eight children.
Dad lived a wonderful life that ended at the age of 95 on April 15, 2020. He told me many times he would not change any of it for all the money in the world. The bonds of brotherhood forged at Delta Upsilon lasted his entire life. A close and dear DU brother Winslow Uebel, nicknamed "Shoulders," possibly the last remaining member from that class, was still in touch to the very end. If Dad was still here and could say a few words to the members of Delta Upsilon, I believe he would say, "Carpe Diem, Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Seize the day boys! Live for today. Embrace your brotherhood along with your faith, family and country. Make your lives count!"