Alpha Gamma Rho - University of Florida

Spring 2019 Newsletter

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

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2 ALPHA GAMMA RHO The Strong Bonds of the AGR Brotherhood The "Ole Crew" Shares the Lasting Impact of Alpha Gamma on Their Lives F our years and a lifetime. For a group of Alpha Gamma Rho brothers from the 1990s, their time living and communing together at AGR truly germinated the seeds for deep, life-impacting friendships that have grown into "framily"—friends who are like family. As these brothers graduated, married, and settled across the state they missed their consistent connections with each other. Mason Smoak '94 and his wife, Tracee, longed for more than an occasional reconnection with brothers over a single meal. ey decided a weekend to gather the "Ole Crew" together was in order. In January 2000, they invited a group of brothers, their significant others, and the only child born at the time, to Mason's family ranch in South High- lands County. ey spent the weekend communing over meals like they were back at AGR, sitting around a campfire, riding swamp buggies, play- ing heated games of Pictionary, reliving old memories, sharing about their new stage of life as working adults, and celebrating the upcoming birth of Mason's first child. It was such a meaningful time of renewed bonding they decided to make it an annual reunion every Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. e tradition has continued with the group celebrating their 20th gathering this past January. e "Ole Crew" added to its numbers every year as children were born. What began as a group of 18 has grown to 62 adults and children. Today, kids range in ages from those crawling through the ranch camp house while the oldest kids drive down from college because they wouldn't dream of missing the annual gathering. e adults have also added an annual trip to an away Gator football game as another fellowship opportunity. Over the years, the brothers have shared the wondrous joy of new births to the growing Crew, the excitement of new jobs, and the deep sorrows of loss. As brother Duane Mathis '94 explained, "We have lived, loved, laughed, and cried together. We have celebrated marriages and the births of babies; we have also mourned divorces and the loss of beloved brothers. We are brothers in every sense of the word and we always will be." In 2008, the Ole Crew lost their pioneer when Mason passed away far too young. His memory, legacy of his graciousness, love for others, and even his penchant for practical jokes are celebrated through the continued blessing of this annual gathering of brothers still made possible by the Smoak family. Brother Ray Hodge '95 recalled the long-lasting, deep friendships born through Alpha Gamma and its life-changing impact. "Both joining Al- pha Gamma Rho and meeting Mason profoundly affected my future. Our group has been bonded for life and I count my blessings they are part of my life story." AGR provided enduring friendships not only for the brothers and wives of the Crew, but also for this group of 35 kids who have grown up together and fully claim the Ole Crew "framily," too. As life comes full circle, the oldest of the Ole Crew children are now the same age these brothers were when they joined the Alpha Gamma Rho brotherhood and began sowing the seeds of lifelong friendships. e broth- ers hope this next generation, and many more to come, have the same op- portunity to develop such special, indelible bonds at the new Alpha Gam- ma Rho house. e Ole Crew celebrates their annual reunion in 2000. Le to right: Mason Smoak '94, Keith Shiver '96, Patrick McElroy '95, Adam Putnam '92, Paul Koukos '92, and Derick omas '93. e Ole Crew spends 2019 MLK Jr. weekend together at the Smoak family ranch in South Highlands County.

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