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Sigma Nu
at the University of Virginia

Alumni Spotlight – Walter “Terry” Birkel

Myself (with stylish hat) with Ann my bride ( Col 74) , Son, Charlie , Daughters Lauren and Maggie ( Law 2018) son and daughter in law and two granddaughters.

I graduated from UVA in 1969 , went straight to law school, and have been in private law practice in Washington, D.C. since 1973. My wife, Ann Brown, was in the first co-ed class (Col ’74, Law ’77) at the College, and we married in 1987. Our daughter, Maggie (Law ’18) practices law in DC, as does our son, Charlie. Four lawyers in the family allows for lively dinner arguments.

I have fond memories of life at then 1830 Carrs Hill Rd. I was Lt. Commander with Ken Spisso (now a nationally known medical expert in OB-GYN) our Commander. I also served as kitchen manager, co-rush chair, occasional IFC rep, and enjoyed those years fully. When the chapter recolonized in 2016, I became involved in the effort and have remained as the President of the Hopkins Society, which owns the chapter house.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the undergraduate brothers during the last seven years. Without fail, they have been engaged, responsible, and make my role of renting the house and keeping it repaired relatively easy. It has also been fun catching up with alumni brothers from my era, and making new friends, sharing kinship with Beta alumni across eras.

My fondest memories of undergraduate days include deep and lasting friendships with many Beta brothers, terrific chapter parties, going down the road, playing poker in the TV room, Christmas parties in the Chapter room, shared meals, and intramural victories (or defeats), and endless BS sessions over a pint or two. I learned responsibility as an undergraduate brother, be it running the kitchen for some 20-odd meals per week, or working with pledges to “shape them up.” I lived in the house for two years sharing rooms with Brian Katen and Roger Whiteway, both of whom remain friends.

When I address the chapter or talk with current brothers, I emphasize the importance of engagement at the University both in and outside fraternity life. The current generation of brothers clearly enjoys a keen sense of brotherhood, living in the house and building lifetime friendships. It has been a pleasure to observe how the sense of place and brotherhood remains intact at Beta Chapter. And, they enjoy meeting and networking with alumni. The result is the first award of Rock Chapter (top 20 chapter nationwide) status last summer, and a growing reputation of the Beta Chapter, both with students and the administration.