Alpha Gamma Rho - University of Florida

Fall 2018 Campaign Announcement Newsletter

Alpha Gamma Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity at the University of Florida

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ALPHA GAMMA RHO University of Florida G rowing up as an Alpha Gamma Rho legacy, Dean Saunders '78 had the opportunity to witness his father, Fred Saunders '54's, interactions and rela- tionships with his Alpha Gamma brothers. "When it came time for me to go to college, I moved right into the house," he shared. A tradition that began with his father, Alpha Gam- ma Rho now spans three generations of the Saunders family with Dean's son a member at Florida Southern and his broth- er, Bruce Saunders '84, a fellow Alpha Gamma alumnus. Though Dean graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in fruit crops and food resource economics. his roles in student government and as Noble Ruler in Alpha Gamma set him on a different path in the political world after graduation. After a call from a U.S. senator to work with the agricultural community, Dean started his ca- reer in politics and even ended up running for office. "This path would never have been possible without AΓΡ," Dean said of his political career. He now runs his own business, Saunders Real Estate, helping families buy and sell agricultural real estate. Alpha Gamma Rho contributed more to Dean's life than he ever thought possible, not just socially but professionally as well. "The great thing about fraternities are the relationships that you make and build that carry you throughout your career," Dean said. Know- ing the value of his experience is what made supporting Honoring Our Past, Building Our Future: The Campaign for a New Chapter House so easy. "We have all benefitted from our experiences," he shared. "It's our turn to offer the same opportunities to others." Dean's fondest memory of living in the chapter house re- mains the day he met his wife, Gina. "I saw her walk into the house and knew I had to meet her," he shared. She was an AΓΡ little sister, and the afternoon he met her, they talked for over two hours. "I didn't want her to talk to any- one else," Dean jokingly recalled. They've been together ever since. When it comes down to it, Alpha Gamma Rho encompasses some of life's greatest treasures. It's the lifelong friends formed at the chapter house, the professional mentors and skills attained—even meeting the love of your life. You can connect with T he second son of Edward and Anne Smoak, Mason G. Smoak '94, was born in 1974 in Lake Placid, Florida. Al- though cut short at the age of 33, his life was extraordinary. Described by his father as "a great kid, full of energy with a won- derful personality," his kindness and helpful nature continued on through high school, college, and beyond. Mason was the kind of person each of us strives to be – loyal, giving, and pure of heart. Having lost their son 10 years ago, Edward and Anne have fo- cused on the joy of having had their son, a true blessing in their lives. "We had the opportunity to call him a son, a friend, and a business partner," Edward shared. They remember his willingness to give to others, and his fondness for planting live Oak trees as house warming gifts for good friends. "He felt it was a loving thing to do, as it was something that would last for hundreds of years," Edward recalled. Mason joined the Alpha Gamma Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho in 1994, and this experience had a sig- nificant impact on his life. "Joining Alpha Gamma Rho was one of the best decisions he ever made," Edward said regarding Mason's membership. Many of his friendships have lasted for years, and contin- ue today. Even after their college days, Mason and a group of brothers would get together once a year to Fate or Family Legacy? Why Supporting AlphA gAmmA iS SpeciAl for DeAn SAunDerS '78 Community Advocate, AΓΡ Leader Honoring the Life and Legacy of Brother Mason Smoak '94 "Mason lived the Alpha Gamma Rho values. He inspired the men around him to be better men, and the industry he loved, to be stronger and broader. Mason was devoted, pas- sionate, God-fearing and fun loving. I know there will never be another like him, but I also know his legacy will be an example for countless others to follow." -Adam Putnam '92 reconnect for a weekend in the woods. Tracee Smoak continues this annual tradition with Mason's close brothers, fondly referred to as "The Ole Crew", though now, with families, they have grown to a substantial number! Mason's contribution to the agricultural community and to conser- vation were abundant and substantial. He graduated from the Uni- versity of Florida Wedgeworth Leadership class in 2001. In 2005, Mason received the Conservation Hero of North America award from Disney. He was recognized for his assistance in the study of the Florida Black Bear with Dr. David Maehr from the Universi- ty of Kentucky. Mason was named as an Outstanding Alumni at the University of Florida, and received the Horizon Award in 2007. Following his death in 2008, Mason was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, class of 2009. This recognition "honors men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in this state and in mentoring our youth." Mason also participated in many community and church activities. One of his greatest interests was working with Habitat for Humanity in Highlands County. Due to his devotion to this project, the first complete Habitat neighborhood in the U.S. was established in Sebring, Florida, and was named "Mason's Ridge" in his honor. (Continued on page 4)

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