Story by DXP Member Robert (Bob) Borcherts

1555 Washtenaw Ave (corner of Hill St - directly across Hill St from the University of Michigan Sigma Nu House)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Married to Holde - 56 years
Two daughters/four grandchildren

1953-57  GMI - Cadillac
1957-63  University of Michigan - MS, PhD
1964       Institute for Solid State Physics, University of Tokyo
1965-83  Ford Research Labs, Dearborn, Michigan
1983-89  GM Research Labs, Warren, Michigan
1989-97  Zexel (Japanese Parts Supplier), Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1997-06  Consultant on Automotive Electronics (clients: Toyota, IBM, JCI,     )
1979-15  Still caring for/reconstructing/etc. the Albert Kahn home (1899) we live in.

First and foremost, I don't think that there was anything unique or special about us compared to our classmates at GMI. Both Parks Hendry and Dave Artist were very good 'snake oil salesmen' in lining up prospective recruits for the 11th Fellowship. Parks, the Korean Veteran, had the maturity and the vision of what this 11th Fellowship would be and once he had recruited a 'hard core' group we all  became willing accomplices in this larger than life undertaking. Like most 18-19 year olds (ask me about those we see in our neighborhood in Ann Arbor) we were also convinced of our own invincibility and probably wouldn't recognize risk if it bit us on the hand. Somehow, the idea of, "Don't waste your time, concentrate on your studies, work hard and make a success of yourself didn't enter our minds as we set about creating Delta Chi Rho out of 'nothing' while we were still in college.

Memories of House and Bonds. By the time we finished the seemingly endless meetings that resulted in Delta Chi Rho, Harry (Erik) Nordin had discovered this house on Flushing Road that he thought should be our home and came up with the idea of selling 6% coupon bonds for its purchase and furnishings. We felt there shouldn't be any trouble raising money with these bonds. After all, we were paying 6% and didn't see any risk that the money wouldn't be paid back! Unfortunately, Erik left for England to visit his parents during the August 'downtime' of GMT and the rest of us nearly succumbed to an alternative nondescript house in Flint that would have been easier to purchase/finance. By the time Erik returned he had the Herculean task reconnecting us to his vision that the house on Flushing Road was the only choice for Delta Chi Rho.

Selling bonds was another matter. Of course, none of us had any money, After all, one of the reasons we were going to GMI was that the work period pay went a long way to help our meager finances for this college education. Once we sold a few bonds to relatives and close family friends that totaled at most a few thousand dollars, we recognized that this 'Bond Thing' was no small chore. Who to turn to next? The obvious targets were the executives and managers that we knew at the GM plants where we worked. By that time I also found a book on "selling' that offered a lot of practical guidance. So, we developed the approach of a personal letter, with pictures of the house, sent to the homes of our targeted customers. In the letter, we explained the reason for the bond sale and that we would follow up, in person, a few days later. Amazingly, this worked but it was also insufficient. We then broadened our 'targeted customer base' to those executives and managers that we didn't know. I approached Ed Cole, then Chief Engineer at Chevrolet, and was emboldened by his purchasing of a few bonds in his children's names. However, it was not all roses. One stumble that I personally encountered was when I approached Don Ahrens, General Manager of Cadillac. Having sent the letter to him at his house a few days earlier, I parked my Studebaker (another GMI story) a block away and knocking at his door, found that he had not received the letter (probably unlikely) and so I had to 'wing it' since my carefully rehearsed speech was now ripped to shreds.

Mr Ahrens politely said "No" to our bond offer saying that his new house was taking all his available cash. But I was mistaken if I believed that was just another "No". The next day, Erik Nordin, Forrest Airhart and I were summoned to Bob Lennox's Office (Director of Education and Training) who told us that "..if we valued our Cadillac sponsorship as much as he valued his job, we would stop this nonsense and not approach anyone at Cadillac again!"

Since we had not followed the advice of mature successful adults before, we just became more careful in our selection process. Besides, not all of us in Delta Chi Rho had a "Don Ahrens" as a plant or general manager. We all worked very hard with the bond sale. I remember that Bill Heuser was quite successful and Erik Nordin secured a contribution from the Mott Foundation. I also found more targeted customer names from the Thomas Register, and finally we were able to buy The House and furnish it - with furnishings from Robinson's in Detroit where Erik worked part time!

A few closing memories - selected! Once in The House, we realized another financial fact of life. We needed to expand our live-in membership to >50 in order to pay the bills. By then, this task was easier for us as we now had an identity! However, as alumni, we have noticed that the recruitment of new members has become more of a problem in recent years.

While I can't remember exactly how The Pillars were selected as our gift from the class of 1957, I do remember that many seniors lived away from the House during that last year. However, neither Ralph Robertson nor I did and it fell mainly to the two of us to 'obtain' those cut fieldstones from the lot across Flushing Rd using my Studebaker as a 'truck'. Then, by hand we mixed both concrete for the center and mortar for the stones and, without developing a hernia, the pillars were built - but without a cap! Not in the original design, the caps were an afterthought and were built in makeshift forms on the ground and then hoisted in place by many of the seniors.

Robert (Bob) Borcherts
Legacy Stories of the Delta Chi Rho Charter Members, written for the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Delta Chi Rho Fraternity, General Motors Institute (GMI), Flint, MI 1955-2015

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