By Kris Whitten, Sigma Delta 1970
I first met Fred Kieser, Theta 1962 in the fall of 1979 at my first meeting of the Chi Phi Grand Council in Atlanta. We had been appointed to the Council by Grand Alpha Bates Block, Gamma 1940, Fred as Grand Gamma and myself as Grand Eta. Fred was a big man, and as one of his friends put it, sometimes had a bombastic way of getting his point across. At first, I didnt know quite what to make of him, but soon realized that he was someone I liked and could count on.
Fred was a loyal friend and Chi Phi leader, so when I heard that he had died I decided it would be a good idea to see if others agreed that keeping his memory alive was a worthwhile idea. After receiving encouragement from Past Grand Alpha Dick Gilbert, Rho 1962, and current Trust Chairman Christopher Shuler, Alpha Zeta 1984 I worked with the Trust to establish the Fred Kieser Memorial Leadership Fund.
The Kieser Memorial Leadership Fund will provide scholarships for Brothers to attend Chi Phi leadership training programs including the College of Excellence and Regional Leadership Alliances, both of which Fred played a key role in starting during his time on the Grand Council.
When he was appointed to the Grand Council, Fred already had a distinguished career in Chi Phi: as Alpha of the Theta Chapter at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in 1962 Fred represented his Chapter before the Grand Council; as a longtime leader of Thetas Alumni, in the 1970s Fred spearheaded the renovation and revitalization of his Chapter; and as a Chi Phi Regional Counselor he helped supervise the Mu, Rho, Delta and Psi Chapters. Fred even had a unique claim to fame; he chaired the committee which reviewed a Congressional motion to admit women into Chi Phi in 1973.
Fred had a vast knowledge, experience and can do attitude that were appreciated by many. He really loved Chi Phi, and many times I saw Fred roll up his sleeves and get down into the trenches for the fraternity; both literally and figuratively.
The things Alumni and National Officers have to do are not always pleasant or easy, but sometimes we have to get into the fray to keep the Fraternity moving in the right direction. As an Alumnus of my Chapter, Sigma Delta at the University of California at Davis, I have appreciated Freds help and insights on how to act as a leader. When I had the sad duty of representing the Fraternity as Grand Eta at a contentious Court of Congress, called to revoke a Chapters Charter, Fred was right there to back me up.
Fred was also fun to be around. I like to describe him as a great combination of a savvy lawyer and a big kid. National service is not a veil of tears, and it is leaders like Fred who make it possible to get the work done, and have a good time doing it. Fred also had a really good rapport with undergraduates; he never forgot his days as Chapter Alpha, and seemed to relive that experience when he was talking with undergraduate Brothers. He worked hard in his time on the Council and Trust to establish leadership training programs for the undergraduate Chi Phis, like the College of Excellence.
Fred also helped revitalize Chi Phi Alumni groups around the country. In this he was aided and abetted by Brother Bill Kitchen, Alpha 1949, who served at different times as Grand Delta, Grand Epsilon and was the first Executive Director of the Trust. They were a team; if Kieser and Kitchen were coming to town to address your Alumni Association or Club, or to start a new one, look out! They knew how to do it, and would bend your ear and twist your arm to get the job done.
During his time as Grand Alpha, Fred also chartered or re-chartered several Chapters, including Alpha Sigma at Princeton and Upsilon at Hobart, which had been dormant for over 100 years. He and his predecessor, Bates Block, Gamma 1940, also supported Chi Phi efforts to colonize in the West, culminating with Fred presiding at the chartering in 1987 of Epsilon Zeta at Californias Humboldt State University and Zeta Zeta at California State University, Sacramento.
As another friend of Freds put it: He was a principled man, he shall be remembered. The Kieser Memorial Fund seems a fitting way for Chi Phi to remember this principled man.
Alumni interested in making a gift to support the Fred Kieser Memorial Leadership Fund to provide educational training grants can visit www.chiphicampaign.com/donate or contact Nick Holmes, Director of Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.849.1824.