Lew Parry ’48: He spent many good times at Pi Kappa Phi
Brother Alexander “Lew” Parry ’48 passed away in September of 2022, and his wife, Betty, and their children generously shared some photos and memories from his college life experiences during a tumultuous time for our nation and the world.
Lew enrolled at Penn State in Fall 1942 and was invited to pledge Pi Kappa Phi as a freshman. He was unable to live in the house at that time, as the government had taken over several fraternity houses for use by various training programs. With the second World War still raging, young men of college age were actively encouraged to enlist in the military, rather than wait to be drafted, for a better chance at choosing the branch in which they would serve. So Lew, who aspired to join the Air Force, interrupted his schooling to enlist.
Despite being initially assigned to the Army, he was persistent, continuing to take the necessary tests, and he ultimately qualified for duty in the USAF. There he was given the choice of being a pilot, a navigator, or a bombardier and chose to serve as a navigator, since it meant being assigned to the crew of larger aircraft. “He got air sick in smaller planes,” Betty explains.
While serving in the Air Force, Lew was on a training mission to Puerto Rico. During their return trip, foul weather in Galveston and New Orleans necessitated a refueling stop at Brookley Field in Mobile, AL. Mother Nature again intervened, with more bad weather grounding the flight in Mobile. Most of the crew spent the day at the Red Cross Canteen where Betty volunteered. She and Lew talked a lot during that time and agreed to write.
Lew flew a total of 32 missions over Japan during the War, and when it was over, he was discharged from the military and returned to Penn State and Pi Kappa Phi. On his Spring Break he traveled back to Mobile to see Betty. She explained that after that visit, they both knew they were meant to be together. Lew decided to get a Summer job in Mobile and by the end of the season, they were engaged.
Their original plan was to be married when Lew graduated from Penn State; however, two years was a long time to wait. The government had allotted 200 trailers to Penn State for expanded veterans housing. By moving their wedding up to Thanksgiving of 1946, Lew and Betty qualified to lease on the trailers, where they lived until he graduated in 1948. The young couple made shared many happy moments at the fraternity during those years, eating dinner there every Sunday and attending many parties. Betty says, “We have many fond memories of our time at Penn State, and many of those include times at Pi Kappa Phi.”
They would return to campus more than decade later to attend a football game in September 1962. Prior to kickoff, Lew and Betty visited the house where had made so many fond memories and enjoyed lunch before taking in Penn State’s 20-6 victory over Air Force.