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Above: The Casperos attend fellow alum Bear Kohler's retirement dinner.

John Caspero '61 and his son John Caspero III ' 86 have a lot in common. Both served as presidents of Kappa Chapter. They were also both Business Advertising majors and NROTC members, and both eventually served in the Navy and married PSU coeds!


John Caspero '61

What is a great memory you have from living in the house?
The "crazy" seniors, the midnight bowler, the "Baron,"and Dugger, our beer-drinking boxer mascot.

What was the campus hangout for Phi Sigs during your college years?
The "Skeller" on Pugh Street and movies on Allen Street.

What life skills did you gain from your time in Phi Sig?
I strove to imitate the cardinal principles of brotherhood, scholarship, and character. I can't fondly remember Penn State without Phi Sig in the foreground!!

How had the house changed when you returned as an alumnus from when you were an undergrad?
Informality was the greatest difference. We all ate together in the dining room each night and on Sundays a coat was required. Our non-resident housemother was escorted into dinner (when she was present) by the President of the house or by another officer in his absence.

How have you stayed connected to Phi Sig over the years?
I follow newsletters and visit occasionally.

How did you encourage your son to become a Kappa?
I told him of my great experiences as a Phi Sig brother, which were special since I had no brothers of my own. My son also only had sisters. I didn't push him but was pleased when he did pledge!

What was it like to participate in your son's initiation ritual, and later finding out that he had been elected president?
I must give credit for the suggestion to participate in the initiation ritual to the late "Bear" Kohler. The experience was second to none, especially the look of surprise on my son's face during the ceremony. I did decline to "streak" to the convenience store during the post-initiation party!

How does it feel to have your son follow in your Phi Sig footsteps?
It is a humbling experience since I'm not sure that I always gave him the best example! I often think about his son, also now at PSU in the NROTC.

Connect with John at 142 Alpine Rd., Bridgeville, PA, 15017 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

John Caspero III '86

What is one of your best memories from your Phi Sig experience?
Tailgates, homecoming, Gravediggers (truly unbeatable). Sunday dinners with skits, Saturday mornings after a Friday night mixer with a sorority, Pledge Bolts, ultimate frisbee on the front lawn, 99 & Tails, and all the Brothers that I got to know and live with those four years at PSU.

What was the top campus hangout?
Zeno's and the Phyrst when I was old enough, but also the HUB fishbowl, which is long gone, and of course at the house.

What life skills did you gain from your time in Phi Sig?
Working with people that have a diversity of thought, background and opinion.

How had your father influenced you to become a Kappa?
He introduced me to "Bear" Kohler when I was at campus for orientation over the summer, but he never really pushed the idea of Phi Sig or fraternity in general. I think he let me figure out what I wanted to do or which direction I wanted to go on my own. I think Bear might have given the Rush Chairman my name while I was a freshman and I then began to rush in the fall of 1982.

What was it like to have your father participate in your initiation ritual?
It really was awesome - both a shock and a surprise! Prior to heading downstairs for the final initiation ceremony, my Big Brother Jeff Mason told me a couple times, "Your dad is downstairs right now." I thought he was putting me on. After the long week leading up to initiation and the unsureness that all of my Pledge Class felt at times, I thought it was just a joke. Nevertheless, he was there, and I remember dropping some important artifact when he gave instruction to my Pledge class, partly from shock, partly from inebriation...

How did your father react when he found out you were also elected Kappa president?
He was proud of that accomplishment and certainly would ask me about how it was going and the challenges, but I think he recognized it most as a growth opportunity to learn and serve.

How does it feel to follow in your father's Phi Sig footsteps?
It provides shared experience across a generation for us. We have had that opportunity in other ways over time, for example we were both in the Navy, with him serving in the Reserves for 25 years. However, the years at Phi Sig gave us so many stories and a bond; they occurred in the same place in the same college season of our lives.

If you had/have a son of your own, would you encourage them to join Phi Sig? Why or why not?
I do have a son, Grant, who is now a freshman in Happy Valley. He has been out to the house a couple times and to a tailgate where he met some Brothers from the 80's. My encouragement to him has been to experience all that Penn State has to offer, take full advantage of all the resources and opportunities before you. If that means fraternity to him, then I would be honored if it was Phi Sig.

Connect with John at 1115 Runnymede Ln., Bel Air, MD, 21014 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..