Nite Mirror (nitemirror) wrote,
Nite Mirror

Remembering Edward J. Kirchner (1912-2003)

I got my fraternity's magazine today. On the cover was a picture of the only National officer I ever respected along with the dates 1912-2003 under his name. Last October Edward Kirchner died.

There is no reason why anyone on my friends list should know him. However, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone one of you did. You see when I was an active brother of Phi Kappa Theta there was a standing joke based on the premise that Ed knew everyone alive on this planet and everyone knew him. He worked at the United Nations. He did meet many world leaders. He personally initiated two Popes into my fraternity.

I know he left a lasting impression on me. I remember sharing a sauna and hot tub with him, two other brothers of my fraternity, and the wife of one of those other brothers. He told a story about when he was in a hot tub in Alaska and how everyone jumped into the snow straight from the hot tub. Ed was able to mingle with the leaders of the world. He could also make the common person feel at home.

Without him Phi Kappa Theta may well have never been created. In 1954 (I hope I'm remembering the year correctly) he was one of the key figures in the merger of Theta Kappa Phi and Phi Kappa Fraternities to create Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity and in doing so saved two struggling fraternities at a time when many other fraternities did not survive.

He then was directly responsible for the creation of more local chapters of Phi Kappa Theta than anyone, ever.

In the early 1990s he was responsible for saving my local chapter from having its charter revoked. At a time when the very President of National told us we would cease to exist by the end of the year, and there would be no appeal. Ed visited my chapter and befriended us. We explained our problem to him, and told him of our plans to become a local, unaffiliated fraternity again if Phi Kappa Theta National pulled our charter.

He personally guaranteed that National would not shut us down. At the time his official title was "national adviser at large," a more or less honorary title. However, given all that he had done for the fraternity, he did have influence and he used it on our behalf saving my local chapter at a time when we were thinking we would have to become an unaffiliated local fraternity again.

Anyway, when he left, every brother of my local chapter felt he was a friend. You couldn't not like Ed. He knew and was friends with everyone.

Even though I just found out about his death today, and only meet him twice. He was a friend. He was everyone's friend. Last October 4th the world lost a friend.
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