Delta Upsilon Syracuse Scholarships
Raymond Ranellucci '89 Scholarship
In Ray's honor, The Raymond Ranellucci '89 Emerging Leader Scholarship has been established. Ray's scholarship funds in perpetuity the attendance of a newly-initiated Brother, who we believe has the greatest potential to make the biggest impact on the House, in the prestigious Delta Upsilon Emerging Leaders Experience. This annual, week-long event held at Williams College, DU's founding location, coaches a promising young guy how to make a difference in the House through developing his leadership skills and confidence in his talents.
Ray passed away in June 2011. We had a nice tribute to him at Foxwoods later that year. Since then, we've established a perpetual scholarship in his name as part of our comeback, for a young Syracuse DU guy like Ray back in the day, feels right. As you know, being part of the DU return would've been right up Ray's alley, giving a boost to a cub Brother was what he was all about.
When you formally remember a guy who's passed, it means that you've carried something about him with you, that he has left some mark of who he was on who you are.
Everyone has enthusiasm. Some for 30 seconds, others 30 minutes, fewer for 30 days - but it's the guy who has enthusiasm for 30 years - that's the guy who makes a real difference in others for life. That was Ray - enthusiasm for 30+ years. There wasn't a guy better at stirring up the Brotherhood pot in a good way. His enthusiasm was contagious.
When Ray was Social Chairman in Spring 1987, we had more sorority weekday wake-ups with the likes of DG, Kappa and Tri Delt than any other semester, and all were packed as Ray sold each like a Saturday night open party. Everything came alive in his company; he cast positive energy about him so that to be with him was to feel on the move. Of course, you're only like this if you care about each and every guy in the House.
To remember Ray, an event was held on October 30, 2015 that was attended by 100 DU Brothers. The event occurred at O'Flanagan's in NYC and was a culmination of a fundraising effort to name a scholarship in connection with our comeback in Ray’s name. We unveiled the long lost mud wrestling video tape from the late 80s that featured Ray and the guys. Mark Portier MC'd the event.
The October 2015 event in New York City is a testament to our enduring strength. One hundred Brothers gathered to celebrate Ray’s life and establish a scholarship in his memory. The walls of the venue shook when the Brothers chanted Ray’s name upon presentment of his wife (see video), just like the walls shook in 711’s Chapter Room when the Brotherhood belted out Wherever You Find Two Rivers back in the day. A plaque commemorating The Ray Event has been fabricated (see plaque). It will be hung in our new House when we get one, the very first day we move in. The power remains.
To permanently endow Ray's scholarship, Brothers needed to reach a total contribution of $25,000. In the end, over fifty brothers donated $43,000 to Ray’s scholarship (see full list), busting up the endowment goal thermometer into pieces at 172% of the original goal. Overachieving our goal is something Ray would have liked.
Read more about the NYC event and see who attended and donated to Ray's scholarship.
David A. Thorpe '64 Scholarship
In Dave's honor, The David A. Thorpe Class of 1964 Leadership Scholarship has been established. Dave's scholarship funds in perpetuity the attendance of an undergraduate Brother at DU's Global Service Initiative (GSI) in Jamaica. In doing so, this Brother will honor and recognize the service that Dave provided to his country.
Dave Thorpe '64 was always a leader, brave and fun-loving too. Leadership with an easy smile, that was Dave. His brother, Dick Thorpe '60, fondly tells the high school story of Dave rounding up a handful of Mynderse Academy students to challenge the varsity basketball team to a full-fledged game. Dave player-coached his rag-tag squad to victory over the Varsity. After the improbable win, he grinned and softly said to the coach: "Boy was that fun, do you want to play again?" Coach, well, he declined.
Ralph Leyrer '64 was Dave's roommate at 426 Ostrom for three years. As Ralph puts it, they lived on the second floor with the "animals." Sure, they had more than their share of escapades in Dave's little white Triumph, but Ralph admits Dave gets the credit for keeping him in school. Ralph confides he wasn't much for the books. Dave would sit with Ralph and study next to him, making sure he was doing his work. Dave always led quietly by example.
Ralph remembers if the guys were together, say a group of 20, Dave would be in the middle, calm and strong, kind of like the stitches holding the tight-knit band of Brothers together. We see this in the photo below - Dave is front and center, sitting in the lawn chair there with the guys on the 426 Ostrom porch.
Ralph was probably one of the tougher guys in the House, coming to Syracuse on a wrestling scholarship. In one of his last conversations with Dave, Ralph tried to talk him out of going to Vietnam, warning the war had just started, safety measures for aircraft like radar weren't in place, and it was really dangerous. Dave brushed aside his concern, coolly responding that he was in Air Force ROTC, ready to fly and fight, and not backing down. Indeed, Dave was in the first group of airmen deployed to Vietnam.
Ray Piscitelli '62 was Dave's Big Brother. In Ray's words, they were as "thick as flies," or said another way, best friends. Two guys from Seneca Falls, and gosh did they have a ball together. Ray recounts their last road trip, thumbing the 47 miles from Syracuse back home, hitting every bar along the way. As best friends, Ray and Dave made a pact: When Dave returned from Vietnam, they would go into business together and develop Dave's family farm.
Air Force 1st Lt. David A. Thorpe never made it back. Dave's C-130E Hercules, with five men aboard including Dave as Navigator, failed to arrive at Nha Trang Air Base following its departure from Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam. The cause of the crash is unknown. The incident file is blacklined - all we really know is the mission was top secret. Dave was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart for his last mission.
Four years ago, the Department of Defense informed Dick Thorpe his brother Dave's remains had been identified and would be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. At Dick's request, his grandson, an Air Force man who completed three tours in Iraq, escorted Great Uncle Dave's remains back from Honolulu. On June 23, 2011, more than 47 years after Dave last hung out with the guys on the porch at 426 Ostrom, eight of Dave's Syracuse DU Brothers from back in the day attended his service at Arlington Cemetery. Ralph Leyrer and Ray Piscitelli were there. Brotherhood really is forever.
Dave's life reminds us that truly powerful people have great humility. They do not try to impress, they do not try to be influential. They simply are. People are magnetically drawn to them. They are most often very quiet and focused, aware of their core selves. They listen. If there is anything they can offer to assist you, they offer it; if not, they are silent and lead by example.