David E. DeVol, The Grand Old Man of Theta Chi
January 30, 2024
Editor's Note: The following message was posted by Brother DeVol’s daughter regarding funeral arrangements. We will share additional updates as they become available.
Friends and Family,
Dad's services will be as follows, and ALL are welcome.
Please share with us as we remember Dad and what he meant to each of us.
Each service is listed below and all will be held at
Glen Abbey Memorial Park and Mortuary
3838 Bonita Rd.
Bonita, CA 91902
Sunday, Feb. 18
Viewing from 5:00–9:00 p.m. at Glen Abbey (specific venue will be posted)
Monday, Feb. 19
Funeral at Glen Abbey in the Chapel of the Roses from 12:30–1:30 p.m.
Catered reception will immediately follow that includes full lunch at the Orchid Pavilion.
Tuesday, Feb. 20
Private Burial at Glen Abbey Cemetery
Please note, the reception is on the same grounds as the funeral. It is a very short drive down the hill upon the Glen Abbey grounds to the venue and is fully accessible for disabled friends and family. The venue has both a comfortable indoor seating area and an outdoor patio with a ramp, chairs, and table areas.
We hope that you can join us as we celebrate and honor my Dad.
Some have asked about donations to organizations that were dear to Dad's heart. I know he would be grateful if any donations were sent to his beloved Theta Chi or the Nevada State Railroad Museum at 2180 S Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701 as Dad was a lifelong train fan and had a special affection for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Virginia City, NV.
(David E. DeVol (Gamma Theta/San Diego State 1959), whose name has been almost synonymous with Theta Chi Fraternity, has joined the Chapter Eternal. Thus is ended a life which for nearly seven decades has been in substantial part devoted to the upbuilding of an organization to which he pledged allegiance in 1956 as a young student at San Diego State College. That loyalty expressed in unselfish service made him "The Grand Old Man of Theta Chi" long before 2013, when by formal resolution passed by the Grand Chapter that title was officially conferred upon him. (See formal resolution below.)
In 2013, during the reinstallation banquet of Gamma Theta Chapter at San Diego State University, the Grand Chapter recognized Brother DeVol as the "Grand Old Man of Theta Chi.” The Grand Chapter had only conferred this title of utmost respect and seniority once before, when it was given to Dr. Robert L. Irish (Alpha/Norwich 1889) in 1932. Dr. Irish had been a guiding force for Theta Chi as it became a national organization and expanded throughout the country. He had served on the Grand Chapter for 20 years and was a trusted adviser, mentor, and friend to all.
After the announcement, DeVol gave his trademark salute and approached the podium. In true, Grand fashion, his remarks were simple, humble, and took the spotlight away from himself to focus and shine brightly on the achievements of others.
“I promised not to say anything this evening, but I have to respond to that. When I joined the Fraternity, I was just 18 years old. I never thought I would be an old man or a Grand Old Man. But some of you have heard this story. I came within 15 minutes of joining another fraternity here at San Diego State. It turned out that I joined Theta Chi, and I met my wife because of Theta Chi. How different my life would have been if I had never joined Theta Chi. It's been a tremendous experience. I have known virtually all of the brothers in Gamma Theta Chapter dating back to the late 1940s - more than 1,000 young college men who entered Theta Chi through the portals of Gamma Theta Chapter. I can tell you without reservation that the group of young men we initiated today are among the very best of the men that we initiated back through the last 60+ years. I congratulate you and look forward to working with you and we're back to San Diego State!”
Dave DeVol lived his entire adult life living our Creed and truly represented the Helping Hand. May we all endeavor to follow his Grand example of leadership, mentorship, and brotherhood.
Brother DeVol was born on February 12, 1938, and raised in San Diego, CA. He was a 1955 graduate of Point Loma High School, located north and west of downtown.
DeVol matriculated to then-San Diego State College (now San Diego State University) and signed his bid with Gamma Theta Chapter. He was initiated February 4, 1956, and assigned Roster Number 212.
As a collegiate brother, DeVol served Gamma Theta Chapter as Social Chairman, Alumni Contact Chairman, and Secretary. He served on nine chapter committees, assisted with five major projects, and played on two intramural teams.
His collegiate experience in Theta Chi was marked by befriending collegiate brothers from nearby chapters as well as meeting stalwart alumnus brothers by attending key local, regional, and National Fraternity events. These true friendships and activities formed at Gamma Theta and beyond would inexorably link him to the greater Fraternity.
Among the most significant events is certainly DeVol’s appointment as Gamma Theta’s Delegate and traveling with three other brothers via car from San Diego to Norwich University in Vermont for Theta Chi’s 100th Anniversary Convention. During both legs of the cross-country road trip, DeVol stayed at and/or visited with brothers at Alpha/Norwich, Upsilon/NYU, Alpha Upsilon/Nebraska, Gamma Lambda/Denver, Gamma Tau/Drake, and Epsilon Lambda/Colorado Mines.Arriving at the Fraternity’s Centennial Convention mere months after his initiation, an 18-year-old Dave DeVol met Theta Chi titans such as:
- National President Earl D. "Dusty" Rhodes (Delta/RPI 1921)
- Executive Director George Chapman (Omega/Penn State 1920)
- Past National President and Rattle Editor George Starr Lasher (Alpha Gamma/Michigan 1911)
- Past National President Thomas Sears, Jr. (Beta/MIT 1932)
- Past National President Sherwood Blue (Alpha Iota/Indiana 1926)
Additional Grand Chapter and National Board of Trustees members including:
- Col. George Adams (Alpha/Norwich 1915)
- Clair Fishell (Mu/California 1920)
- Duke Hannaford (Mu/California 1922)
- Stuart Kelley (Phi/North Dakota State 1920)
- Joseph D. "Dixie" Ross (Alpha Eta/North Carolina 1932)
- William Frantz (Alpha Pi/Minnesota 1939)
- Charles F.S. Ryan (Beta Alpha/UCLA 1936)
- Spencer Shank (Beta Omicron/Cincinnati 1921)
- Joseph C. "California" Ross, Jr. (Beta Tau/Southern California 1948)
- Richard Duncan (Gamma Kappa/Miami (OH) 1927)
and a young Deputy Regional Counselor by the name of Howard R. Alter, Jr. (Omega/Penn State 1941).
But, Brother DeVol was in attendance for more than just meeting new brothers. He recalled, “It was a controversial time. Civil rights were at the forefront of issues in the United States, and within Theta Chi. Gamma Theta had supported eliminating membership restrictions and, as our chapter’s undergraduate Delegate, it was my responsibility to deliver that vote. It was an issue that threatened to divide the Fraternity, but cool heads and enlightened leadership prevailed.”
A highlight of the Convention DeVol often spoke about was the closing banquet. “I saw elder statesman, Phil S. Randall (Alpha/Norwich 1886), who, with Henry B. Hersey (Alpha/Norwich 1885), was initiated in 1881 by James Holland (Alpha/Norwich 1883), the sole remaining undergraduate in the Fraternity; thereby insuring the survival of Theta Chi. [Next, we] five proud Gamma Theta brothers received the Man-Mile Award. Later that evening, our brothers from Alpha Chapter hosted us with a party at their chapter house.”
Attending this milestone event and especially meeting and learning from Theta Chi’s venerated leaders (along with the road trip and receiving the Man-Mile Award) significantly impacted Brother DeVol and undoubtedly played a role in fostering his love and passion for the Fraternity over the next seven decades.
Additional events that impacted a young Dave DeVol during his collegiate years included Gamma Theta’s celebration of its 10th anniversary during his junior year and attendance at regional conferences in Theta Chi’s old Region XI. The Rattle reports, “Somewhat unusual is the situation in Region XI, whose three chapters situated at UCLA, University of Southern California, and San Diego State not only meet for a conference yearly with almost hundred percent participation, but they share a Dream Girl Formal also. Thus there is little problem about getting acquainted.” Additionally, during his senior year, a swimming pool was built, finished, repaired, finished again, and opened at Beta Alpha/UCLA. Shortly after it opened, Gamma Theta Chapter was invited to visit for aquatic sports contests.
An industrial management major, DeVol was a fixture on the San Diego State campus and, in addition to Theta Chi, was actively engaged and involved in myriad activities. He
- Served as President of the class of 1959’s Freshman and Junior Classes
- Served as Lower Division Representative to the Associated Students council
- Participated on the Finance Committee, Constitutions Committee, Homecoming committee, Student-Faculty Committee, and Student Parking Committee (chairman)
- Served as an adviser to the Class of 1962
- Was a member of
- Society for Advancement of Management (publicity director)
- Oceotl honorary service organization (vice president, treasurer)
- Aztec Shops board of directors (chairman)
- Named a Who's Who in the class of 1959
- Selected as the recipient of a Student Government Award for outstanding achievement in the field of student government
In recognition of his efforts within the chapter and his achievements on campus, Gamma Theta Chapter named DeVol as their 1959 Most Outstanding Senior and nominated him for Theta Chi’s Reginald E.F. Colley Award, the Fraternity’s highest honor for a collegiate brother.
Following graduation, Dave wed his bride, Kay, whom he met through Theta Chi. He pursued a career in banking and took on various roles over the years, including first vice president and manager of the consumer services division, San Diego Federal Savings & Loan; executive leadership at Great American First Savings Bank; president and chief executive officer, Rancho Bernardo Savings Bank; president, Silvergate Thrift and Loan, Inc.; and Executive Vice President, Zementis, Inc.
In 1962, DeVol answered the call to give back and served as Regional Counselor through 1968, assisting the chapters in Southern California. In 1968 at the 112th Anniversary Convention held in Miami Beach, he was elected to the Grand Chapter and served as International Counselor until 1971. He was elected to the Grand Chapter again in 1972 at the 116th Anniversary Convention in Scottsdale, AZ, and was elected and served as International Vice President for six years. In 1978 at 122nd Anniversary Convention in Chicago, DeVol was elected International President and served through 1980. DeVol was the first Californian to be elected to Theta Chi Fraternity's highest office.
Following his time on the Grand Chapter, from 1986-1996, DeVol served on the National Board of Trustees (now the Norwich Housing Corporation) and served as its President from 1994-1996. He is currently one of nine brothers who served as both Inter/National President and President of the NBT/NHC. Brother DeVol also served as a board member on the Foundation Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity.
Throughout his service on the International level, DeVol remained dedicated to his alma mater and served as President of the SDSU Alumni Association in 1987. He also served his local community as a board member (and secretary) for the San Diego County Capital Asset Leasing Corporation; as a board member for the Parkinson's Association of San Diego; and as a board member of the Challenge Center in La Mesa, CA.
He continued his high engagement and activity with his beloved Gamma Theta Chapter at San Diego State. Countless hours were spent advising and mentoring collegiate members and serving as a leader within Gamma Theta's House Corporation and the San Diego Alumni Chapter. He even found the time to make consistent trips throughout California to meet with and help alumni and collegiate brothers, as well as young men interested in bringing Theta Chi to their campus.
Brother DeVol started an annual alumni ski trip with other Gamma Theta and Zeta Epsilon alumni, which has since been named in his honor. The first group gathered in 1981 and traveled to Mammoth Mountain in California. The ongoing trip and shenanigans have continued with a returning and rotating cast of characters. The 43rd Annual International David E. DeVol Ski Trip will be held February 22-25, 2024, in Steamboat Springs, CO. Learn more at www.thetachi.org/ski.
Brother DeVol is a recipient of the Fraternity's highest award, the Distinguished Service Award, which was presented in 1980 as he finished his term as International President. He has also received a Citation of Honor, a George T. Kilavos Alumni Award (presented by the Grand Chapter), and the Earl D. Rhodes Theta Chi for Life Award. He has been recognized with the Silver Legion and the Golden Guard and is an Honorary Member of a number of chapters including Alpha/Norwich, Alpha Epsilon/Stanford, Beta Iota/Arizona, Beta Tau/Southern California, Alpha Iota/Indiana, Theta Alpha/CSU-Northridge, Theta Iota/UC-Santa Cruz, Iota Eta/Pacific, and Kappa Mu/Point Loma Nazarene.
In 2003, then-Executive Director Dave Westol created the DeVol Award, which is presented to those alumnus members who have provided the Fraternity with extra effort and dedication above and beyond what the duties of their positions required of them. The award was aptly named for a brother who always gave far more than was required.
Coming full circle, Brother DeVol's extended the Helping Hand close to home despite slowing down and continued health challenges. When a group of students emerged at a university just west and north of downtown San Diego, the Grand Old Man responded to the call for assistance from the young men of Point Loma Nazarene University. Brother DeVol attended their Colonization Ceremony in 2017 and, in 2019, he attended Kappa Mu Chapter’s Installation banquet with his daughter, Sue, an alumna of Point Loma Nazarene.
Dave DeVol was a force of nature. However, unlike a hurricane, tornado, or a California earthquake, his actions and conversations were never forceful, explosive, or uncontrolled. Instead, they were thought provoking. Simple. Considerate. Well communicated. Earnest. He did not bend others to his will but simply and effectively communicated with others, regardless of age, and helped them on life's journey.
He took many under his wing and provided mentorship, words of wisdom, or a quick quip with a sly smile. He made it clear there was a time to be serious and a time to have fun as he provided guidance to Theta Chi’s leaders, both collegiate and alumni. Whether a brother served as Chapter President or as a volunteer at the local, regional, or International level, brothers knew they had a sounding board in Brother DeVol. Indeed, all of Theta Chi Fraternity’s living brothers who served as a current or past International President, Executive Director/CEO, President of the NBT/Norwich Housing Corporation, Presidents of the Foundation Chapter and Theta Chi Funds – all were mentored by Dave DeVol. For the past 50+ years, the Fraternity’s top leaders sought sound advice and counsel from Brother DeVol and were never led astray.
Undoubtedly, one of Brother DeVol’s biggest strengths was leadership. He clearly understood that to be an effective leader, one had to have followers. In order to gain the trust of the followers, a leader must provide an example and show the way. Most importantly, a leader is often called to go above and beyond what is required, and a true leader, a Resolute Man, will answer the call. Leaders must also build relationships with followers. Whether that’s through communication, invitations, or a friendly smile, it can make all the difference in the world. A leader who knows his followers – and is known by his followers – and maintains those relationships can complete any task. Finally, a good leader will challenge his followers to follow his example and to do more – and will be on the lookout for new and talented individuals to cultivate and mentor to become the next leader.
Thus is the essence of Dave DeVol, our Grand Old Man. A man who was always willing to give more. Do more. A man who was always on the lookout. Always helping us to see the best within us. Always helping us reach our true potential.
He was generational. He was our link to the titans of Theta Chi’s past and consistently forged the links for Theta Chi’s future. His amazing and beneficial Theta Chi experience at San Diego State led to a lifetime of volunteering and creating true friendships. His amazing and beneficial Theta Chi experience as an alumnus led to a lifetime of others volunteering and creating true friendships. Dave DeVol helped us all to keep faith with our past, make good decisions in the present, and become a force for good in the future.
His keen thinking and his sure counsel did much to build Theta Chi into the structure it is today. Just as then-Executive Secretary Al Aldridge so aptly said about Dr. Robert L. Irish, we say the same of David E. DeVol:. "Now that he is united with Freeman and Chase he can render to our Founders a report of his stewardship which any Theta Chi properly may envy."
And now he is at peace. But he lives in the hearts and in the lives of those who wear the Badge of the crossed swords and the serpent. He never can be forgotten. No organization such as ours possibly could have bestowed a more meaningful title than "The Grand Old Man of Theta Chi."
Never one to shy away from a celebration, we can only hope that Brother DeVol has entered the Chapter Eternal to lead the brothers in a raucous cheer. "Hip, Hip!"
Within The Rattle, Brother DeVol’s concluding remarks in his final letter as International President appropriately echo and remain timeless:
“On a personal note, and in closing, may I take this occasion, after 18 (62) years of regional and (Inter)national involvement with Theta Chi, to thank the thousands of undergraduate and alumni brothers who have provided a "Helping Hand" along the way. In retrospect, it can be stated without reservation that our Fraternity is stronger today than at any time in the past two (six) decades…The overall health and resurgent vitality of Theta Chi today is a direct result of the loyalty, dedication, and perseverance of nearly 100,000 (more than 200,000) men. Working together under the ideals established by Frederick Norton Freeman and Arthur Chase so long ago, our potential holds no limits. Theta Chi is well positioned to take advantage of new opportunities, and as the banner is passed once again, please be assured that the future of Theta Chi is in good hands indeed.”
Thank you Delta Delta, for your good Helping Hands to lead, guide, and mentor us on our way. May we resolutely follow your example of Theta Chi for Life and work toward our limitless potential.
The Fraternity will share information and details regarding Brother DeVol’s funeral arrangements on this article as they become available. Please hit refresh to update the page.
We are compiling stories and memories of Brother DeVol. Please send your messages, stories, and/or photos to Chief Communications Officer Ben Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. As they are compiled we will provide a link within this story to access them.
Click the image above to access our
DeVol memorial photo album!
The Resolution passed by the Grand Chapter in 2013 reads as follows:
“The Grand Old Man of Theta Chi”
WHEREAS, Brother David E. DeVol (Gamma Theta/San Diego State 1959) has been a member of Theta Chi Fraternity from 1956; and, since 1968 when he became a member of its Grand Chapter, has rendered conspicuous and distinguished service to the Fraternity and it membership, serving 12 years on that body including terms as International President, International Vice President, and International Counselor; and,
WHEREAS, Brother DeVol has served on the National Board of Trustees for ten years and on the board of the Foundation Chapter for six years; and,
WHEREAS, Brother DeVol has instilled into the hearts and minds of our members the spirit and ideals of our Fraternity such that Theta Chi’s award for superior volunteer service is named in his honor, and,
WHEREAS, Brother DeVol is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, the Fraternity’s highest award; and
WHEREAS, The Grand Chapter has only once before conferred a title of utmost respect and seniority, which was given to Dr. Robert L. Irish (Alpha/Norwich 1889) in 1932; now,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Grand Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity give due recognition of Brother David E. Devol’s idealistic and unselfish service by conferring upon him the title of “The Grand Old Man of Theta Chi,” and be it further,
RESOLVED, That the appreciation of the Theta Chi Fraternity be expressed to him at the reinstallation of the Gamma Theta Chapter at San Diego State University, and be it further
RESOLVED, That these resolutions be entered upon the minutes of the Grand Chapter and published in The Rattle of Theta Chi.