Beta Theta Pi - University of Minnesota

Fall 2014 Newsletter

Beta Pi Chapter of Beta Theta Pi at the University of Minnesota

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Beta Pi Alumnus Makes His Dream a Reality W hen Gerry Wilson '52 came to the University of Minnesota, he had no interest in joining a fraternity. His best friend at the time was a Beta, so after some convincing, he talked Gerry into going out for spring recruitment. "For a guy who wasn't at all interested in being Greek, it was a truly rewarding experience. The pride of belonging to a brotherhood like Beta Pi who were well respected on campus was a great feeling." Beta Theta Pi elevated Gerry's self-esteem and helped solidify his core values. It also gave him the experience of being a leader, as demonstrated during his senior year when he held the position of chapter president. The leadership he learned from Beta carried over into his personal life as he runs and operates Wilson Creek Winery with his entire family in Temecula, California. In 1996, Gerry and his wife, Rosie, were retired and planned to move to Solvang to be closer to their daughter and her family. Their son, Bill, called one day and said he knew of a small winery for sale and thought it would be perfect for the family, so he asked if his parents wanted to purchase it. After visiting the location, Gerry and Rosie fell in love. Having previously only made dandelion and rhubarb wine in their basement, the Wilsons have come a long way. Through hard work and perseverance, Wilson Creek Winery opened in 2000 and has been extremely successful ever since. They host numerous events every year, including weddings, concerts, and charity functions. The winery has garnered prestigious international wine awards and their production has increased to approximately 50,000 cases per year. Gerry is proud that Wilson Creek is the unofficial winery of many Navy ships, including nine aircraft carriers. As the whole family is involved with the operation, it's apparent how welcoming Wilson Creek is. Talking with the family members who are always on the property, you can feel the energy and personal touch placed on everything. And while Gerry is quite content walking the 200 feet it takes him to get to work every morning through the vineyard, he still remembers his roots at Beta Pi. "As you grow older, you realize how precious your brothers and friends are. Don't get so involved in your own day-to-day life to forget that." In January, Gerry reunited with one of his pledge brothers, Bert Leach '52, after 60 years. "It was terrific to see Bert again. He epitomizes what a Beta should be. When I was president of the chapter, I was very aware of how important the alumni were. Now it is my turn to give back, to help the chapter renovate the house and keep the spirit of Beta Theta Pi alive at Minnesota." Gerry and Rosie have been married for 61 years and have four children: Bill, Mick, Libby, and Chris, and seven grandchildren. Though he doesn't have much spare time, when he manages to find some, he spends it reading. You can contact Gerry at, and be sure to visit Wilson Creek's website,, for more information. Rick Morgan, Beta Delta '80, Maintains Cornell and Minnesota Beta Pride R ick Morgan, Beta Delta '80, joined Beta Theta Pi at Cornell University in 1977. After meeting the brothers of Beta Delta, he formed a quick bond and realized it was the best fit for him. They knew how to properly balance academics and social life, a clear demonstration of their priorities. Beta was also a prime opportunity for Rick to develop his leadership skills, taking on the roles of secretary and president. Beta Delta celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1979 while Rick was president. "Having the opportunity to meet Beta Deltas from many eras made a tremendous impression on me. So many of them expressed their appreciation for what their Beta experience meant to them personally and how it helped them professionally after graduation. I wanted to do all that I could to carry on that heritage." After graduating with a degree in government, Rick attended the University of Minnesota and entered a joint program with the law school and Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. While there, he applied for Beta's tutor-in-residence program, designed to provide Beta graduate students with a one-year scholarship in exchange for advising an undergraduate chapter. He worked with the Beta Pi Chapter from 1980 to 1984 while he earned a law degree and master's degree in public policy. Rick practices law with the firm of Bowman and Brooke in Minneapolis, Minnesota, serving as national trial counsel for companies like Ecolab, Cargill, and 3M. "As an undergraduate, I thought I would be a journalist, but a family friend who was an attorney took an interest in me and encouraged me to consider practicing law. After graduating from Minnesota in 1984, I joined the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps and served on active duty for four years (I had gone to college on an Army ROTC scholarship). I then served as a federal prosecutor in Minneapolis for several years before joining Bowman and Brooke in 1995." "Beta has made a huge difference in my life and certainly enhanced my career. It gave me greater confidence in my ability to be a leader and manager and improved my social skills. The scholarship help I received from the General Fraternity as an undergraduate and again as a graduate student was much appreciated." As an alumnus associated with two chapters, Rick maintains contact with numerous brothers from Beta Delta and Beta Pi. "Few things in life are as important as relationships. Reaching out to Beta brothers, especially in this era of social media, has never been easier, and keeping those friendships vital is richly rewarding. Once a Beta, Always a Beta." Rick and his wife, Stacy, live in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. They met as undergraduates at Cornell and were married soon after graduation in 1980. "I pinned her at the Beta centennial in '79 while the brothers serenaded her with 'My Beta Sweetheart.'" They have three sons: Nick, Phil, and Greg. Over the last few years, Rick and Stacy have been remodeling their homes in Eden Prairie and Scottsdale, Arizona. Now that their sons are grown and out of the house, they're enjoying the empty nest. You can contact Rick at PAge 4

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