In 1911, six young students at the University of Nevada sought to form a fraternal organization compatible with their ideals of brotherhood. To accomplish their goal they organized the “Nevada Club” and recruited like-minded Nevada students. After investigating several national fraternities, in 1914 our earliest brothers elected to associate with the Sigma Nu National Fraternity, which was founded at the Virginia Military Institute in 1869. Sigma Nu thankfully accepted the petition.
On August 22, 1914, Sigma Nu brothers from the Stanford and University of California chapters met at the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Reno and inaugurated Sigma Nu Fraternity’s 82nd chapter, Delta Xi of the University of Nevada, the first nationally affiliated fraternity on the Nevada campus. Harper C. Neeld was inducted as the Fraternity’s first member. Fifty-three years later Mark Rhodes was the 1000th inductee. This year Delta Xi will have initiated about 1,980 members.
“Battle Born” was also the hallmark of early Delta Xi members. With the guns of war thundering in Europe in 1914, Nevada’s 50th year of statehood, World War I (WWI) took its toll on the fraternity. Almost 60 percent of Delta Xi’s first 50 members served on active duty during WWI; only 2 members were active in the fraternity in 1918. Brother Ferney Snare of Elko, Initiate Number 39, died fighting the “war to end all wars.”
In April, 1921, Delta Xi alumni organized the Housing Corporation and after 11 years of leasing properties, purchased the residence at 826 University Avenue in Reno as its chapter house. 1075 Ralston Street has been the home of the chapter since its acquisition in 1950 under the leadership by brother and former Reno mayor Hugo Quilici, the chapter’s 44th initiate. The mortgage on the 1075 Ralston House – affectionately known as “The Castle” – was ceremoniously burned in 1964 during the chapter’s 50th anniversary celebration. The “North Wing” had been previously added in 1961 to accommodate the growing demand for housing. Today, The Castle remains the most prestigious fraternity house on the Nevada campus.
The first “Crumley”, a Christmas dinner for depression-era brothers who could not afford to go home for the holidays, was sponsored by the parents of Delta Xi brother Newt Crumley. “The Crumley,” which was first held in 1928, celebrated its own 85th anniversary event in 2013, and remains the oldest annual, continuous tradition in the State of Nevada.
In 1959, the chapter’s inaugural class of the Legion of Honor recognized those members who had contributed so generously of their time to ensure success (and at times, survivability) of the chapter, and those who had achieved preeminent recognition in the civic, professional and business communities. Approximately 80 Sigma Nus, not all of whom are Delta Xi alums, have been inducted into the chapter’s Legion of Honor.
The Sigma Nu Alumni Scholarship Foundation was established in 1984 to recognize deceased Sigma Nus and to award scholarships to deserving Delta Xi brothers. The Foundation now has an endowment of over $90,000. In conjunction with other chapter-related scholarships, more than 100 scholarships exceeding $85,000 have been awarded to active members.
Over the past 100 years, Delta Xi alumni have achieved prominence and distinction in the local and national theaters. Its notable members include Jake Lawlor, for whom the University’s Lawlor Events Center is named; Jack Streeter, the most decorated soldier of World War II from Nevada; former Governor Jim Gibbons; Dan Klaich, the Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education; and many others who have distinguished professional, political, academic and military careers.
During the year 2014, Delta Xi celebrates its Centennial and looks forward to continuing success as an important fraternal and institutional component of the University of Nevada, Reno and the National Sigma Nu Fraternity.