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For Dick Richardson '70, the impressive gray stone mansion that sits at the corner of Allen and Fairmount is more than just a fraternity house. For Richardson, that house was a home, and like old photographs and memories, it is something he feels strongly about preserving.

Richardson came to Penn State on a track scholarship and had no intention of pledging a fraternity until his friend, Roger Barton, '69, encouraged him to check out Phi Sigma Kappa.

"Roger and I played basketball together in high school. I'm sure he gave me my first beer and he was one year ahead of me in school," he recounts.

Molding the Man

Richardson remembers the three years he spent in the House as a period of growth and change which began with a grueling 15-week pledge period. He plowed through this rite of passage while juggling a demanding accounting curriculum and daily three-hour track practices.

"My spring break was all along the east coast with the track team rather than at the beach having fun," he laments. "I had classes. I had both Friday and Saturday all-night work at the fraternity. Pledging in those days was very, very hard. I doubt if anyone would do what we did today. I know they wouldn't," he admits.

In the end, the Phi Sig experience was worth the sacrifice and sleep deprivation.

In addition to teaching him about discipline and good time management, life in the fraternity gave him a chance to branch out from his sheltered upbringing.

"My father was the principal of my high school and we were a very conservative and quiet family," he explains. "I saw a lot of crazy stuff at the house and PSU [sic] and I was able to pick and choose where I fit in."

Richardson fondly recalls the parties, his studious roommate, Tom Petka and "just the great start the house gave me since I was a quiet, introverted guy."

When Richardson graduated in 1970, he felt he earned more than just a diploma. He came away from Penn State and the House a more social, well-rounded man. He launched head-first into a career as a Certified Public Accountant and a little over a decade later, the budding entrepreneur started and sold his own nursing home company.

Giving Back

Today, Richardson is still selling nursing homes, as well as assisted and independent living facilities. He and Bonnie, his wife of 27 years, are also actively involved in the lives of their five children and five grandchildren. Their two youngest children, 20-year-old twins Tyler and Alysse, are sophomores at Penn State.

"Alysse is a sorority girl and I couldn't be prouder of her hard work at everything. Tyler is hesitant to follow in my footsteps at Phi Sigma Kappa, but maybe we can get him involved with the hockey team and get him to see the benefits of Greek life."

Even if his son Tyler doesn't end up pledging, Richardson is committed to making sure the opportunity is available to other Phi Sigma Kappa hopefuls. He has contributed a significant amount of time and money to maintain the House and support the fraternity. He feels grateful to other members who share his enthusiasm for the cause.

"The Chapter House is very important to me and I am very thankful for the work the brothers put in to bring it back to life. The fraternity experience did more for me than some brothers, but those who can, should send in their contributions. There are a lot of doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs out there who got more from their fraternity experience than they think. If you haven't sent money, you really need to think about it."

Were you a member of Dick Richardson's pledge class? If so, he'd love to hear from you! E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..