An Omega graduate described as the ideal alumnus recently became the 50th member to receive the national fraternity’s highest honor.
David Lane (Omega 835) was bestowed the Mr. Pi Kappa Phi award June 13, 2015 at an alumni gathering in Clearwater, FL.
“He was the perfect alumnus because he never turned me down when I asked him to do something for the fraternity – from expansion to disciplinary matters at the chapter level as well as all points in between,” said Durward Owen, national CEO-emeritus, who attended the ceremony. “He was the perfect alumnus is the only way I can say it. He’s the type of alumnus everybody wants and a few people get.”
Lane, who was initiated in 1968, joined Greg Linder (Omega 951) as the only Purdue alumni to receive the award.
“The Mr. Pi Kappa Phi Award shall be recognized as the highest and most prestigious honor bestowed upon a member,” according the Gold Book national laws. The national council selects the recipient.
Lane started his volunteer work with the national fraternity in 1973 on the Pi Kappa Phi Properties Board including one term as president. Pi Kapp Properties work with new and existing chapters to secure and maintain local fraternity facilities.
He served as a Trustee for the Pi Kappa Phi Foundation, too. Furthermore, he was on the national council for more than a decade as chancellor. Later he returned to the council as vice president and president-elect. He led the national fraternity for the year leading up to the national centennial and presided at the 2004 Supreme Chapter in Charleston, SC.
“It is an exciting tribute,” Lane said. “I’ve served the fraternity (including Omega Chapter) as a volunteer in various roles since 1973. Most will tell you my preference is to use the award to recognize those who have demonstrated exemplary service. Being president as we celebrated the fraternity’s 100thanniversary in 2004 was recognition enough, but it’s really nice to be included as part of the Mr. Pi Kappa Phi ‘club’ with many of my friends. I know (or knew) most of the 50 members.”
Lane, a Washington DC-based attorney, said his chapter experience while at Purdue changed him.
“My undergraduate experience at Omega (1967-71) was a turning point in my life,” he said.
“I would not be where I am today but for the brothers (and others) whom I came to know in those years. I learned some lessons and had many terrific experiences.”
The variety of brothers and the opportunities he encountered proved invaluable for Lane.
“If you are inclined to learn, the leadership opportunities at the chapter provide training not available elsewhere, except perhaps in the Armed Forces,” he said. “Just as in post-graduate life, one has to live and cooperate with individuals of various backgrounds to an extent not experienced during high school years. These circumstances, if fully appreciated, increase sensitivity to the importance of leadership and the circumstances of others less fortunate.”
Lane said many brothers influenced him while at the local chapter level.
They included the late Tom Pierson, a Purdue student who died while serving in Vietnam and his pledge pop Preston “Skip” McDaniel (Omega 794). Others included John Lovell (Omega 751), C J Frame (Omega 823) and the late chapter advisor Ken Wark (Omega 429).
“Being his pop was a very easy job since he picked up on the ins and outs of the fraternity and stayed out of trouble,” McDaniel said. “About the only time I can remember that he needed some guidance was when he was questioning his decision to join Pi Kappa Phi.”
McDaniel the two talked that decision.
“Boy when David makes a commitment, he’s all in,” McDaniel said. “With leadership roles from the chapter level to the national organization and with contributions of time, energy and financial support, David is an outstanding role model for those inside and outside Pi Kappa Phi.
“He shows us what one person can do to brighten the lives of many,” McDaniel said.
After the 1987 fire that severely damaged the fraternity house at 330 N. Grant St., Lane worked with Herb Meyer (Omega 69), Paul Swafford (Omega 74) and Gus Riggs (Omega 69) who were initiated in the 1920s. Those men, along with many others, helped raise more than $400,000 to help rebuild the house.
On the national level, Lane cites former executive director Owen and Kelley Bergstrom from Iowa State as his mentors.
Owen has known and worked with Lane for nearly five decades.
“Why did it take so long (for him to receive such an honor)? Owen said. “He didn’t just become deserving recently. He’s been deserving from the years of his involvement in the affairs of the fraternity. Of all the people who have received it (including Owen), he’s been equal to them in his contribution.”
And for Owen, his relationship with Lane has been special.
“We are very close,” he said. “He’s much like a blood brother as he’s a fraternal brother.”