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Riding the Wave of a '39 Zepher

Alumni Profile: Harold Marcus '56

This brief Q&A interview is part of an ongoing series designed to help us get to know our brothers better.

Why did you join Zeta Beta Tau?
I was a member of Phi Epsilon Pi (Phi Ep), and that organization merged with ZBT. Over the years, ZBT had merged with several different fraternities. The reasons I joined Phi Ep were very deep-seated with the strongest reason being that I was a legacy. My father, his only brother and many other family members were members of Phi Ep. As I remember, Phi Ep and ZBT did not compete in those days, and if there was a Phi Ep chapter at a school, most likely there was not a ZBT chapter. If I had attended a college where there had been a ZBT chapter and not a Phi Ep chapter, I would have been prone to join ZBT if asked.

Tell us about your favorite memory of the fraternity.
My favorite memory of the fraternity (and GT) was of the "Ramblin' Reck" parade at homecoming during my freshman year as a pledge. Since we were at an engineering school and mostly from the East, the brothers were not into junky cars. As an Atlantan, I had grown up around hot rods, knew where the "end of the road" car lots were located and could spot and negotiate with the locals for a choice junker. The brothers, probably to placate me for my excitement, elected to enter the Ramblin' Reck Parade that year and allowed me to select and buy the appropriate junker.

I found a 1939 Lincoln Zepher with its sleek, classic lines that the salesman reduced to $35. I knew I had found the right car! GT was playing Vanderbilt at homecoming, and I could see how, with the proper design changes, we could sink the Commodores with our land yacht. The hood and trunk were inverted among other design "improvements," and the Zepher took on the appearance of a boat.

Everyone at the fraternity house was excited and in the spirit for this parade. The brothers were insisting on active roles from "captain" on down to "chief engineer." The pledges, which included me, were allowed to walk at the rear of this beautiful ship as it prepared to sink the Commodores.

It was a few minutes before the parade began, and the motor, which I had started, stalled. From the "captain" on down, no brother could start the engine. After much cursing, I heard my name being called, and I went forward to check it out. Being asked, I climbed into the "engine room," started the car and managed to be the only one who could keep it running. So, I saved the day doing what I loved. At the end of the parade, my mother approached to take my picture, and my face was black with grease and soot. I remember saying to her, "I love this school!" And, I always have.

What kind of influence has the fraternity had on your life since graduation?
It has always been difficult for me to separate the fraternity from GT, especially regarding the influences they have had on my life. Taken together, both have had amazing effects on my self-confidence and my ability to work with others and with material objects. My favorite comment when successfully repairing something around my house is "Just ask a Georgia Tech graduate!"

Who from the fraternity has played a role your life?
The fraternity was always important to me, and this question also brings out that this importance was not always healthy. I had a pledge brother, Stanley "Gumps" Gumble '56, who became a very close friend and later my roommate (once initiated and allowed to move into the house). The unhealthy part was that Gumps and I decided, in our infinite wisdom, that the rest of our pledge brothers were not worthy of being Phi Eps and, over the course of a very short time, they all depledged. I cannot remember the details, only the overall result.

As a result of this action, Stanley and I were the whole class of '56. We were very lucky that the class of '57 adopted us. This class was a wonderful group of men, and we have stayed very close for all of these 45 years. Stanley passed away years ago and I am the sole-surviving member of the class of '56. The class of '57 has, however, always been there for my wife, Pat, and me. I attended their 45th reunion at homecoming last October.

Tell us about your family. Have you married? Do you have children?
I met Pat when I was stationed in Houston for the Air Force. I had received my commission in Georgia Tech's Air ROTC program. Pat and I married in October 1957 after earning my navigator's wings and before transferring to Biloxi, where I earned my ECM wings. I feel my three-year active duty term in the Air Force did even more to develop my character.

We have three children. Our oldest, David, is a radiologist and lives with his family on the West Coast. Jeff, our younger son, and Ellen, our daughter, are both married and live very close to us in Santa Rosa County, Fla. Jeff has two sons, and Ellen has three daughters; so, it's very easy to keep the guys and gals straight in our "grandparenty" minds.

What other activities or organizations were you involved with during your college days?
I have no idea where my yearbooks are to help me figure this out. Activities and organizations were very important to have in the yearbook because you wanted to have a respectfully long list. But I can't seem to remember what organizations in which I had involvement. I know I ran for senior class president and lost. I was elected president of the Southeastern Division of Phi Ep. That's all I remember.

What is your nickname, if applicable, and how did you get it?
My given name is Harold (Jr.), and I was always called Hal to avoid being confused with my father. My fraternity beer mug, which I am looking at now, says "Uncle Hal." I think that was because I was always giving others advice, whether they asked for or not.

Did you live in the house? If so, who were your roommates?
I lived in the house during my last three years, I think. My original roommate was Stanley "Gumps" Gumble, mentioned above. He got an apartment after two years, and my roommate as a senior was Bob "Wello" Wellins. Bob was also my "little brother" and an active class member of 1957.

What do you do for a living?
After the Air Force, I was in the linen supply and industrial uniform industry for many years. That job brought me to Northwest Florida to take over the management of a plant in Pensacola. To get Pat and myself to come to this "outpost," which is what the owners in Miami thought of the plant, I was told that if the business grew and prospered, I could join the industry's associations. By joining the associations, we could attend their conventions, get out of town, and Pat could shop.

The job went well, we became convention regulars and, as time went by, I was elected to the board of directors. I believed I could do a better job with conventions. An opening happened, and Pat and I suddenly found ourselves in the multiple association management business. We specialized in the textile management industry, but soon got involved with recreational associations including yachting and antique automobiles. That Zepher just kept coming back to haunt me!

In 1995, my mother's family business, established in 1876 and based in Pensacola, was sold. Even though I served on the company's board of directors, I never took an active role in the business but have three cousins who were involved. During the course of the sale, pressures were high and these cousins were hardly speaking to each other. I pointed out that a separate business needed to be created. This business would manage the warehouses that the buyers were renting as well as pay the bills and collect the monies created by notes spread out throughout this day. Because I was the only person these cousins would speak to, I was asked to set up and run this new business. For some reason that I'll never remember, I was honored and I am still running this "new" business. By the way, the cousins are all speaking to each other but no one is speaking to me!

What affiliations do you currently have and/or public service do you participate in?
Since selling our association management business and moving to Santa Rosa County, I became very active civically. I served as president of the Santa Rosa Historical Society and was a court mediator for many years. Unfortunately, now our business takes too much of my time to keep up with the civic work.

What hobbies do you enjoy?
I need as much time as possible to maintain my main hobby — BRIDGE! Bridge can take over your life, and we have to keep putting the brakes on. I also walk four miles (1 hour) each morning, rain or shine, and attend the gym three days a week for anaerobics. We have a boat docked on the river, which is in the front yard. The boat takes much love and care. And, there are our five grandchildren who are always ready to spend the night, thank goodness. If I knew grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first!

What are your goals for the next few years?
Over the next few years, I plan to sell the final, main warehouse and shut down the "new" business; improve at bridge; and watch my grandchildren grow up, hopefully getting married and letting me have a go at being a great-grandparent.

Brothers who want to contact Hal Marcus can e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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